The BFG film review: ‘Spielberg’s adaptation is no Wes Anderson’

In Disney's fantasy-adventure THE BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Roald Dahl's belove

In Disney's fantasy-adventure THE BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Roald Dahl's beloved classic, a precocious 10-year old named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) befriends the BFG (Oscar (TM) winner Mark Rylance), a Big Friendly Giant from Giant Country. - Credit: Archant

Full of charm and cheek, but just a bit lacking compared with Roald Dahl’s book

Among the sadder aspects of the 21st century, a century that has not been short of sad aspects, is Steven Spielberg’s slow slide into irrelevance.

Since Saving Private Ryan, it has felt as though he has consciously taken a step back, leaving others to duke it out for the big prizes.

But, particularly in the last decade, these smaller, personal projects have been largely underwhelming.

His loving adaptation of the Roald Dahl favourite is full of charm and cheek, but is more like a lovely boot sale curio than the shiny shiny today’s children are accustomed to.

Of course, being a bit old fashioned, but with cutting edge visuals, is likely to be very appealing to parents, especially those whose childhoods were shaped by Spielberg and Dahl.

The pair would seem a perfect match as they both specialised in tales of lonely, miserable children who are rescued by fantastical forces.

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Here the lonely child is an orphan, Sophie (Barnhill, like Matt Lucas in little girl form) who lives in a Victorian version of 80s London.

One night she is whisked away from the orphanage by the Big Friendly Giant, a wonderful motion capture performance by Rylance, and taken to Giant Land where he is bullied by the other, bigger, giants because he won’t eat children.

BFG, a muddle mouth wurzel who says things like “telly telly Bunkum Box” and “Hippo dumplings,” is a perfick mix of Stanley Unwin and Pop Larkins from the Darling Buds of May.

Dahl’s works usually flourish when adapted to the stage or screen.

Wes Anderson and Tim Burton are among those who have managed to put their mark on his work while staying true to his vision.

But Spielberg doesn’t quite gel with Dahl’s irreverence.

The film is scripted by the late Melissa Mathison, who wrote E.T. for him, and even if you were new to the story, you could see that it is completely faithful to the original, in a way that suggests they never quite got a grip on it.

They have conscientiously sat down and accurately copied out exactly what was on the page, yet this exact copy just isn’t the same.

For reviews of Star Trek Beyond and the 30th anniversary blu-ray/ Dvd re- release of Absolute Beginners go to

Rating: 3/5 stars