The BFG Blu-ray Review
It may make you reach for Doom's BFG
Despite a continued mastery of films for grown ups, Steven Spielberg's magic may have worn off when it comes to handling kid's fare.The BFG, as with most all of author Roald Dahl's work, is still something of an acquired taste, even for kids. Sure, these are popular stories which are practically part of the curriculum, but their quirks are still rather plentiful and certainly not to everybody's tastes. So in tackling the classic tale, Spielberg was already facing something of an uphill struggle - a struggle to please the fans of the book who would go in with certain pre-conceptions; and a struggle to entice newcomers or, in particular, those less enamoured with Dahl's distinctive style. And, given both the box office results and public reaction its fair to say things didn't quite work out as planned.In embarking on this adaptation, Spielberg, as one would only expect, attempts to make the film his own, reveling in the visual opulence that some of the material lends itself to (the dream catching is a striking component, and the BFG has tremendous scale), adding further sugar to the syrupy heart at the core of the narrative, and padding the film out to an almost epic length. As a result it feels like a film which could have done with some judicious editing, tempering tension to such an extent that it invokes tedium, and delivering a more compelling third act long after audiences would have abandoned all hope. Well meaning, this is far from a Spielberg classic.
Picture QualityUnsurprisingly The BFG looks tremendous on Blu-ray, delivered with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
Unsurprisingly The BFG looks tremendous in high definition
Detail is impressive, lapping up the imaginative CG visuals on hand, with the live action elements blended wonderfully into the landscape. The BFG himself is staggering in terms of sheer scale, and powerfully realised in visual terms, with Rylance's mannerisms and expressions evident on the creature's weathered, wrinkly face. The colour scheme is broad and warm, rich and vibrant, and things are never more visually opulent than in the dream catching sequence, which is certainly a stand out moment. Perhaps not quite a reference title, with a smattering of banding, and with Spielberg's warm but soft haze sometimes taking the edge of the more precise elements, it's still a frequently demo title that impresses.
Sound QualityThe BFG's headlining Dolby Atmos track is privy to an impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core which benefits from an equally imaginative array of special effects and a suitably engaging backing score. Dialogue remains precisely delivered across the frontal array, although The BFG's own voice is given added gravitas due to his stature and almost takes on an ethereal place in the array, somewhere above the normal vocal placement. Effects are myriad, from the whizzpops to the thunderous steps, again reflecting the sheer scale of the piece on the aural front almost as much as was so cleverly captured visually. The score offers a warm backing, attempting to maintain a pace even when the narrative cannot provide any peril, and with some well-rounded LFE usage it makes for a demo track even without Atmos enhancement.
The BFG benefits from an impressive audio soundtrack
ExtrasWhilst not exactly popping with extras, a quintet of light offerings provides some added material, with the half hour Bringing the BFG to Life offering an overview in the production and the only real meat, whilst The Big Friendly Giant & Me tells a 2-minute child's-view vision of the story. Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of the BFG looks at the giant's language, whilst Giants 101 is a brief look at the characters and Melissa Mathison: A Tribute takes an affectionate look at the late screenwriter's work.
Blu-ray VerdictThe BFG will likely continue to be highly appreciated by the under-10s - even smaller souls may appreciate Bing's vocal actor Mark Rylance lending his distinctive tones to this character - and the visual majesty is undeniable, but for many this will be a cumbersome beast which even Spielberg himself doesn't appear to be in control of.
For many this adaptation will be a cumbersome beast
At least the UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release boasts spectacular video and audio - the latter of the Atmos variery - as well as a light selection of extras to please fans. Likely better for the younger generation, this will never be regarded as a high point in Spielberg's career.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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