Monday, July 18, 2016

The movie review you weren't waiting for

Saw Spielberg's "The BFG" yesterday.

Positives:  looks terrific; the female lead is charming, as is Mark Rylance as the BFG;  well directed with all of Spielberg's talent with framing gorgeous shots and terrific (but not jarring) camera movement; makes allusions in various ways to his previous films, which keeps someone like me happy.

Negative:  it does lack narrative "push" in the middle section.  I read some reviewer saying the first 20 minutes were not that good - in fact, I would say they are great, but it slows down after that.  It then gains momentum and becomes pleasingly silly again in the last section when the Queen gets involved.

Overall I found it pretty charming, and felt it quite true to Roald Dahl (even though I haven't read the book).   But I do understand why it hasn't been a big commercial success - it is too long for the real young kids (although, it must be said, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was narratively languid in the same way and still seen as a success), and too kid fantasy-centric for broad success with teenagers and young adults.  (My own teenagers did see it with me, and grumbled afterwards about various aspects; but I don't doubt they were engaged and enjoyed much of it - it is a film of some depth that gives you much to talk about afterwards.  They just won't admit at school today that they saw it.  Especially my son...)

Speaking of CCBB - perhaps that is how the movie could have been improved - as the 1960's taught us, the addition of a handful of pleasing songs can help a long movie. 

I should add - although I don't consider it a complete success for the reason I explained, I did find it actually more interesting that the overly simplistic "Bridge of Spies".   I still say that while there was nothing really wrong with that movie, its narrative needed more complexity to be a great movie.   

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