Sophie yang berumur 10 tahun diculik oleh raksasa. Takut pada awalnya, ternyata Big Friendly Giant atau BFG adalah raksasa yang baik hati. Pekerjaannya adalah mengumpulkan mimpi, sekaligus membagikan mimpi kepada anak-anak. Namun raksasa lain yang lebih besar daripada BFG terus mengganggu mereka. Sophie dan BFG harus ke London untuk meminta bantuan pada Ratu Elizabeth.
When confronted with the work of author Roald Dahl, there’s always going to be some degree of weirdness. Cinematic adaptations of his work tend the celebrate oddity, inspiring pictures such as “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The Witches.” “The BFG” isn’t particularly fascinated with darkness in the same manner as other Dahl-branded productions, finding director Steven Spielberg employing his traditional sentimentality to cut through strange happenings involving giants and little kids. “The BFG” means well enough with its sweet side and explorer spirit, but it’s a surprisingly plodding movie, taking its sweet time with introductions, almost forgetting it has a story to tell. Spielberg and fantasy is usually a promising combination, but the feature never gets out of first gear.
In a London orphanage, young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is an insomniac who’s fed up with authority. During one early morning, Sophie spies a giant running around the city, eventually picked up by the invader and brought to Giant Country, where she finally gets a look at The BFG (Mark Rylance), a towering but kind guardian of dreams. Offered comfort in The BFG’s workspace, Sophie is stunned to find a room filled with jars, each one containing a special dreamscape cocktail the behemoth blends and shares with local children. As Sophie and The BFG establish a friendship built on mutual kindness, peace is interrupted by The Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement), a larger giant who has an appetite for human “beans,” trying to locate the tiny visitor while her guardian frantically works to keep attention away from her presence.
Sadly, “The BFG” is the final film for screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who passed away last year. The creative mind behind “The Black Stallion,” Mathison is best known as the co-architect of “E.T.,” the 1982 blockbuster that turned Spielberg into a divine being, at least in Hollywood. Their first collaboration since that raging success, there’s some pressure on “The BFG” to perform, especially when it mirrors the “E.T.” formula, inspecting the relationship between an inquisitive child and an alien creature, tracking their burgeoning friendship as it’s challenged by outsiders. Only here, Dahl’s influence is more defined, largely doing away with a broad sweep of wonder to keep the picture more observational than participatory, studying Sophie’s entrance into Giant Country with an extended opening scene.
Indeed, “The BFG” is mostly about this first encounter between the child and the friendly giant, with substantial screentime devoted to their interplay inside The BFG’s home, a waterfall-guarded dwelling stocked with glowing jars containing captured dreams, which zip around inside the glass like panicked insects. Exposition isn’t laborious, but the moment goes on and on, gifting Spielberg time to toy with cinematography, which floats around the area, emphasizing differences in scale. And there’s attention to detail, especially with food, finding The BFG preparing dinner while Sophie watches, hypnotized by the gooey innards of snozzcumbers. We learn about the child’s unhappy existence in the orphanage, and begin to understand the giant’s broken language, mangling even the simplest of words. The bond is set, but it feels like an eternity before “The BFG” manages to unearth a plot, and even then, there’s really nothing for the characters to do. Instead of establishing a mission for the pair, Spielberg and Mathison remain fixated on a special fizzy green drink the giants consume, which, if gulped, activates explosive flatulence.
Fart jokes are treasured in “The BFG,” returning periodically to jolt the audience with bodily function humor. Threat is supplied by Fleshlumpeater, the leader of the giants, who pushes The BFG around. He’s a Baby Huey character, hungry to feast on Sophie, which opens the feature up to several evasion sequences where the child zips around the house, keeping just out of sight as she tries to disguise her scent. The giants are created with motion capture technology, making them highly detailed but thoroughly digital creations, which may be a turn-off for some audience members looking for more touchable surfaces in a Spielberg film.
Performances come through clearly, with Rylance kind and daffy as The BFG, while Clement is winningly grotesque as the bulky antagonist, giving Fleshlumpeater some menace to go along with the character’s intense stupidity. However, it’s young Barnhill who walks away with the movie, showing bright life as Sophie, following the material’s lead as the child showcases her intelligence and independence while finding a companion in her giant protector. She’s the wide-eyed energy “The BFG” needs more of.
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