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“The BFG” marks Steven Spielberg’s first collaboration with Disney

Believe it or not, legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg has yet to make a movie over at Disney. He finally has though, with the release this week of The BFG, based on the classic book of the same name by Roald Dahl. As I’ll get into below, Spielberg and Disney have long been a good potential fit, so this was always a matter of when, not if, but the pairing has occurred and we now have another children’s film of his to discuss. Is it anything to go nuts over? Could it be an awards player in any major way? Read on to find out…

The film is, again, an adaptation of Dahl’s classic children’s book. It centers on a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who comes in contact with a BFG, or Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). Despite his imposing stature, he’s one giant who poses no threat to Sophie, a he doesn’t eat children. Quickly, a friendship develops between them, which is essential to keeping her safe once other giants find out about this. Spielberg directs, obviously, from a script by the late Melissa Mathison (with Christopher Abbott serving as a story editor). Other cast members besides Barnhill and Rylance include Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Penelope Wilton, and more. Cinematography is by the legendary DP Janusz Kaminski, while the score comes from the just as legendary composer John Williams.

By and large (no pun intended), the praise being heaped upon this flick is centered on the visual effects and motion capture performance by Rylance. The reviews overall have been solid but unspectacular, continuing the trend that began when the title debuted recently at the Cannes Film Festival. Pundits stateside as well as those in the south of France can’ deny Spielberg’s skills as a director, but many seem to think the story is a little thin and could use more life. That being said, the effects used to bring the giant to life and Rylance’s work combine to give them one thing to really praise. The two of them combined to Academy Award winning effect last year with Bridge of Spies, so while Oscar might not be calling in the same way, a fruitful partnership is at hand. Essentially, it seems like middle of the road Spielberg, by and large, which is still better than the average movie for sure.

Steven Spielberg
In terms of awards, I suspect Disney will launch a campaign for The BFG across the board, but that only a select few categories will truly be in play. That being said, if it’s a financial success, look for a run to be made in Best Picture, Best Director (for Spielberg), Best Supporting Actor (for Rylance), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Mathison and Abbott, if he’s given a credit), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography (for Kaminsky), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score (for Williams), and Best Visual Effects. My best guess is that Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Score, and Visual Effects are the realistic category goals, with one or two of them potentially being fits. Time will tell though, obviously.

On Friday, audiences can see The BFG for themselves and hopefully fall under its spell like Spielberg did. Dahl has a legion of fans, as does Spielberg, so there’s a chance this could be a solid sized hit, and perhaps even a…giant one? Regardless, it’s a new outing from one of our absolute icons of cinema, so if you love supporting the best filmmakers of our generation, this is something to heavily considering seeing. It may not be edgy, but it sure seems like a crowd pleaser, fit for the early summer movie season. Give it a look and see what you think…

Be sure to check out The BFG, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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