(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The BFG)
Doug (vo): Sorry, Doom fans. This is not the BFG you're thinking of. This is instead Steven Spielberg and Disney joining forces to bring the classic Roald Dahl book to life. It didn't do so well at the box office, and honestly, I'd be lying if I said I didn't see why. BFG is not a bad movie. There aren't any moments that were cringe-worthy or I was going nuts watching it. But, at the same time, it does exactly what you expect it to do with no surprises.
Doug (vo): Sophie is a girl in an orphanage who, one night, wakes up and swears she heard something. Sure enough, she sees it, too. A giant, played by Mark Rylance...well, motion-captured, but we'll get to that in a bit...sees that she sees him and decides to kidnap her, afraid she'll tell people of his existence. He takes her to the land of giants, not knowing exactly what to do with her, but overtime, as you'd imagine, they spawn a little bit of a friendship. She goes with him to mystical places and even helps him capture dreams. But it turns out he's actually a very tiny giant, and the other bigger giants pick on him all the time. One day, when he finally fights back, they discover that he's keeping Sophie and demand to see her. When he refuses to hand her over, they decide to go on a kidnapping spree, taking a bunch of children from their homes to the land of the giants. So it's up to Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant to not only stop them, but also alert the Queen and her army to do something about it.
Doug (vo): Growing up, I really loved the original book. It was slow-moving, but you really kind of felt this connection. It somehow felt mature, even though it was still written for kids. The movie very much tries to capture that as well as the whimsical side to it, but I feel like Spielberg has been putting too much emphasis on the whimsical side and not the realistic side. And I know. It's giants, it's catching dreams, it's fantasy, it's not realistic at all. But part of what made the book so special is that it felt real. There were a lot of times where they just stood around and talked or saw how he put things together and the different foods and elements that were all around this world. And again, to Spielberg's credit, he does show all that.
(An image of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is shown, before going back to showing various clips, mostly showing off the film's cinematography)
Doug (vo): But the problem is, unlike something like E.T., where the camera can stay still and you can really feel like you're in this home with an alien in it, here, the camera is always flying, always whizzing, music is always going, "Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do!" It never takes a break.
(Footage focusing on the two main characters, Sophie and the BFG, is shown)
Doug (vo): Because it's always trying to look so flashy and impress you, you never really feel like the girl and the giant are in the same scene. Even though both the leads are incredibly good actors, it always looks like the girl is talking to nobody and a motion capture person is put in later. While the CGI on him is not bad, it's not really convincing either. (Some images of Wun Wun in Game of Thrones are shown) I always think of Game of Thrones and how they did the giant in that show. That was just a guy in makeup, and they just used computers to put him in the same scene. (Back to The BFG) They didn't have to CG everything around him, they didn't have to give him the CG skin, they didn't have to make him look so flat and shiny. Doing that creates another wall of effects we have to look past. It's already one illusion. It's making a normal-size person look big. But now it's trying to convince you that the CG skin is really there, when clearly it's not. Half the time, when he's holding her, the effects don't look that great either. She never quite looks right. She looks like this awkward CG puppet, like something out of Polar Express that's not rendered.
(Several scenes focusing on the other giants featured in the film are shown)
Doug (vo): Speaking of which, with so much CG in this movie, you got to wonder, why the hell wasn't it just animated? I mean, these giants never move like they're really there. They either move too fast or, like, there's no weight to their actions. (A poster for Godzilla (2014) is shown) When you watch something like Godzilla or King Kong or the Lord of the Rings movies, there's this kind of movement that feels like they're really large. They slow it down and it gives the creatures such an immense size to them. (Back to The BFG) Here, they just kind of move like people, maybe a hint slower. I know that may seem like nitpicking, but it feels like what Spielberg is trying to do is make the moment of this little girl and this giant talking to each other feel really special, but when you don't feel like they're really there in the same scene, it doesn't work. And it doesn't help that the cinematography and the effects are constantly trying to show off. You can have a lot of fancy movement, you can have a lot of fancy music, but when all of them are like that and you don't pace it out, it gets tiring. It's like every scene is trying to be the glowing finger scene from E.T.. Separately, these scenes are fine, but when you put them all together, it just kind of becomes bland and generic.
(Scenes focusing on Sophie and the BFG visiting London and meeting the Queen, played by Penelope Wilton, are shown)
Doug (vo): The only scene that actually kind of intrigued me comes from this one actress. She plays the Queen, and you might recognize her from Downton Abbey. She has to say the most ridiculous dialogue, she has to say that she had a dream that kids were being kidnapped by giants and she believes it's real, and if you look out the window, you'll see a girl and a giant. That's ridiculous, but, by God, she sells it! And you want to know why? Because it's not a fancy scene. It's just a person acting and doing a really great job. No special effects, no zooming around, no loud music, just a really good actress acting.
Doug (vo): Had this movie focused more on that, it could've been something really great like the book. As is, it's just kind of standard. I feel like Spielberg is kind of behind at what makes special family films magical. Pixar films have a lot of movement, too, but it also takes a lot of chances. They know how to space it out. On top of that, they have a really good sense of humor that connects with both children and adults. Here, we have violent green farting. (A scene showing various characters farting green smoke around the Queen's palace is shown) Yep. There's a whole scene in the royal dining room of people rocket-farting into the air. There's no punchline, no character-driven joke, just...farting. It's so pedestrian, I can't even get insulted by it. It's just dumb. Overall, though, like I said, the movie really isn't that bad, just nothing really stands out about it that we haven't seen in a million other films. It's tired, it's boring, it could be magical, but it's trying to be too showy and inspiring. If you saw the trailer and think you might like it, you'll get exactly what it promised. But if you're looking for something deeper, rocket-fart away far, far from this.
(The film's final scene, showing the BFG smiling upon hearing Sophie greeting him from far away, is shown)