Back in the 80s two things were certain: you were going to be wearing bad clothes and a kid’s fantasy movie was creepy as hell. Creepy and filled with puppets. The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were supposed to be made for kids, but instead seem like they were made from nightmares.
Flash forward 30 years and not much has changed. Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book the trailers for all them make it appear these films are going down that same dark road. Only now the bad sets and puppets have been replaced by CGI and occasionally Johnny Depp in makeup. So when I saw the new trailer for The BFG had arrived… I expected more of the same and unfortunately that’s exactly what I got.
This is the latest trailer for Steve Spielberg’s tale of a big, friendly giant (BFG) based of the Roald Dahl book of the same name. I have never read the book, nor am I familiar with this story so everything I know about the movie I learned from this trailer. From what I can gather BFG kidnaps an orphan in the middle of the night because he “hears her lonely heart”. He then takes the girl to his home called “giant country”. Some other giants (who are gigantic compared to the first giant) appear to be none too happy about his tiny guest. Kind of feels like the plot of Monsters Inc.
Unfortunately, nothing here feels original. It starts with some exposition from the little girl to set it up, a slow build up to the giant’s reveal and some out of context action shots. If you go back and watch the Pete’s Dragon trailer, it basically follows the same blue print.
Look & Feel
This one is dark. Not necessarily in tone (though that’s debatable) but certainly in terms of color. Does BFG only come out at night? Is giant country in perpetual darkness? In that entire trailer there is one daylight shot. Still, the imagery is beautifully done and definitely gives you a great sense of this fantasy world.
The motion capturing of actor Mark Rylance is amazing and yet leaves me scratching my head. The attention to detail is astounding. The wrinkles, the hair, the way his clothes hang, that’s all amazing stuff. But at the same time, there’s just something about his face that I can’t get past. It’s like when the lip sync is off ever-so-slightly. It just doesn’t feel right.
I think I’m more confused than anything. There appears to be so much CGI here that it makes me wonder why it isn’t just an animated movie. It also makes me sort of miss bad sets and puppets. The trailer also appears to rely on you knowing the story, which obviously I do not.
Here’s why I’ll still see it, it’s Spielberg and the screenplay was written by the late Melissa Mathison who also co-wrote E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Those are two working together is a good reason to give this one a chance.