The BFG Reviews: Critics Weigh In on Steve Spielberg’s Return to Family Feel-Good Fantasy
Expectations can be high when you make a Steven Spielberg-style film. Especially if you’re Steven Spielberg.
With “The BFG,” the stop-motion computer-animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book, the director found himself competing against his younger self — namely the self who directed “E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial,” one of the most beloved — and successful — family feel-good fantasy films of all time.
On that level, Spielberg circa-2016 fell short. Critics generally liked “The BFG” — some really liked it — but many said it lacked that certain magic audiences have come to expect from the director. All things weighed, “The BFG” got a respectable — if hardly Spielbergian — 71 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“There are moments of wonder and delight in ‘The BFG’ — Big Friendly Giant — but not nearly enough to make the movie a must-see” — Liz Braun, Toronto Sun
“A Spielberg movie framed as family entertainment raises the question of whether it’s up to the several classics, especially ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,’ that Mr. Spielberg has contributed to the genre. No, this one isn’t, but it wasn’t meant to be. … It will be fascinating to see whether young moviegoers, accustomed to the frenzied pace of today’s entertainments, will sit still for the intermittent languors of this one. I hope they will” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Mark Rylance’s Performance Shines Through All the CGI, Say The BFG Reviews
One area most critics agreed upon was the strong performance of Mark Rylance as the giant of the title; though his face and movements went through the computer blender and came out as something much more fantastic, his acting chops shined through.
“Rylance (who won an Oscar this year for his role in Spielberg’s ‘Bridge of Spies’) is a wonderful bundle of eccentricities. He’s not just a human voice coming from an animated character. The BFG bears Rylance’s face (albeit with oversized ears and a broadened brow) and the result is a true performance that mines all of the character’s subtleties” — Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
Still, for many critics, that just wasn’t enough. With the movie sagging in the middle act and the Spielberg touch missing in long stretches, it seemed from many reviews that “The BFG” could use a BFF.
“‘The BFG’ is mostly a big snooze” — Brian Lowry, CNN