Blu-ray Combo Pack | DVD | Digital HD
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay By Melissa Mathison, Based On The Book By Roald Dahl
Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | 118 Minutes
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Roald Dahl is one of the greatest children’s book authors of all time, and the films made of his stories are usually very good to all-time classics. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was written by Dahl himself back in 1971, and before the bizarre Tim Burton big screen adaptation starring Johnny Depp, there was the beloved Gene Wilder version, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Since then we’ve gotten excellent work in films like The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. Take the finest child author and combine him with the greatest living director, Steven Spielberg, and you get a the potential for a classic in the making: Disney’s The BFG“¦ Big Friendly Giant.
The film was written by long-time Spielberg collaborator Melissa Mathison (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), who passed away in 2015 from cancer. She captured Dahl’s vision and her screenplay along with the incredible motion-capture performance by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance as the titular giant help bring this magical world to light. See, most giants are foul creatures who eat children, but the BFG refuses, instead becoming friends with a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and protecting her from the much bigger and meaner giants with names like Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater. The film is, and this is not a slight, typical Spielberg: an adventure film for children where young actors interact with marvelous worlds and memorable characters.
The Blu-ray Edition features a beautiful transfer of the film in 1080p hi-def widescreen. The special features include a near half-hour documentary, “Bringing The BFG To Life,” hosted by 12-year-old star Ruby Barnhill and featuring commentaries by Lucy Dahl (Roald’s daughter), and the Spielberg crew, executive producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Everyone, including Spielberg, discusses their first times reading The BFG to their kids. There are amazing pictures of Roald Dahl meeting Walt Disney back in the 1940s! Just think about Disney, Dahl, and Spielberg and the role they’ve played in the lives of children. Of course there is a focus on the special effects, and the motion-capture technology used to create the giants. Ruby Barnhill is hilarious and adorable leading us through the journey of making this film.
In “The Big Friendly Giant and Me,” Ruby Barnhill reads her story alongside a wonderful animated tale of the BFG mixing dreams. My near 6-year-old daughter sat hypnotized to the screen and asked for it “again” after the 2-minute video played.
For any Roald Dahl fan, one of the greatest parts of reading his works is discovering the crazy made up words and phrases. Think of Willy Wonka’s inventions and tasty treats. Well the BFG is no different. In the 3+ minute feature entitled “Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of the BFG,” we get a taste of some one gloriumptious words of the film. Bad dreams are “trogglehumpers.” While giants love to eat chidders (kids), they hate snozzcumbers. And after drinking some soda, you may pull a whizzpopper!
In “Giants 101,” we learn the different types of giants in giant country. These include Bonecruncher, Manhugger, and Fleshlumpeater. We see the motion capture at play with actors Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, and others.
Finally and sadly there is a tribute to Melissa Mathison. Spielberg, Kennedy, Marshall, and the cast and crew come together to pay tribute to a Hollywood icon and the screenwriter of The BFG. It was very sad. Spielberg in particular said he hasn’t properly mourned her yet since he’s felt her presence all throughout post production of the film. She worked with him for over 30 years, penning the script for the classic E.T.
Disney’s The BFG is tremendous family entertainment from the best minds in children’s entertainment.