I am a little surprised Disney’s live-action film The BFG wasn’t a bigger hit. Looking at the release schedule I can see that it was up against some tough competition, including Finding Dory which had been released to theaters just a couple of weeks earlier, then the following week The Secret Life Of Pets. Directed by Steven Spielberg, I was surprised he was making a film to be released by Disney, mostly associating him with the studios Universal or Paramount, but then looking at his last couple of films they have been released by Disney, and with the Indiana Jones property now owned by Disney, it makes sense.
A fairly faithful adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, The BFG tells the story of Sophie, an orphan in London. During the “witching hour” she finds out there are such things as giants and in the same moment plucked out of her bed and taken. What follows is an adventure that involves dreams, giants, and culminates in a flock of military helicopters with a peaceful resolution.
There really is a muted sense of wonder present in The BFG, meaning it’s there and does not feel as if it is forced or overwhelming. While there are plenty of real-world set pieces, almost every frame of the film has at least some computer enhancements if not a massive amount of computer imagery. The giants are all motion captured and animated.
Well acted throughout, The BFG is a classic Roald Dahl story about a child that was cast to the side, finds an unlikely friend, they go through some adversity together, and the child (and friends) get some vindication. While being a little formulaic, it works. I would have liked a little more explanation as to why the title character has this job involving dreams, but like many of Dahl’s works, you’re meant to take things simply as they are presented.
A few special features are present on the Blu-ray, but the trailers are missing. This is a bit suspect. In one of the special features there was mention and a couple of brief clips from what were referred to as “Giant Confessions”, interviews with the cast members in character as the giants meant to help get cast and crew in the right frame of mind. Why weren’t these part of the special features?
We do get 3 special featurettes looking at the making of the film, artificially separated, one looking at bringing the giants to life, one focusing on screenwriter Melissa Mathesson, and one general making of. Another featurette focuses on the words, but doesn’t feel substantive. Finally there is an animatic “The BFG and Me” about a previous child companion to The BFG, taken from pictures found in the lair.
While the special features aren’t as good as they should be, the film is quite good and does not deserve to be lost in the shuffle of home video releases the way it was theatrically.