Steven Spielberg's big-screen adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl story is exactly what you'd want it to be - charming, big-hear...

Steven Spielberg's big-screen adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl story is exactly what you'd want it to be - charming, big-hearted and crafted with unmistakeable care. It also - and most crucially - boasts a magnificent central performance from Mark Rylance. Superb special effects mean the BFG looks the part, but nailing his lean, rangy presence and big-eared mug would amount to little if there was no life behind those CGI eyes.

Thankfully that's not the case. The motion capture work is exceptional and seeing Rylance's wonderfully expressive face on such a large scale is one of the film's great joys. The BFG is a complex character and the Oscar winner does him justice, capturing both his childlike glee and the deep sadness that lies beneath it. At a mere 24-feet tall he's the runt of the giant world, an outsider bullied and ostracised for refusing to munch on human "beans." He's lonely.

So too is Sophie (impressive newcomer Ruby Barnhill), the headstrong orphan whisked away when she spies him skulking through the London night. Having little to go back to perhaps explains why she takes the whole ordeal so well, quickly settling into her new surroundings and marvelling - as we do - at the BFG's world. His cave-like home contains a sailboat bed and mountains of trinkets collected from over the years, but it's the jars of dreams that really stir the imagination.

Spielberg gives glorious life to the BFG's dream-weaving ways. He's seen stumbling about trying to catch them with an enormous net, fastidiously labelling them and then - in one standout scene - using his trademark trumpet to allow a sleeping boy to take a call from the US President. It's also this unique skill that's called upon when the other giants (gargantuan, barrel-chested brutes voiced by the likes of Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader) sniff out Sophie.

In a faultless final act it's decided that only the Queen (Penelope Wilton underplaying things to perfection) can come to the rescue. Getting her attention - and making her believe in child-eating monsters - requires the BFG to act as an alchemist, shadows dancing and flickering on the wall as his nimble fingers work just the right elements into a specially concocted dream.

What follows is equally magical. As he and Sophie pay a visit to Buckingham Palace we’re treated to a brilliantly sustained set-piece, Rafe Spall's kindly butler trying to maintain his composure as a giant-sized breakfast is served and corgies skid across the floor after a little too much Frobscottle. The guest of honour reacts by grinning from ear to big, flappy ear and - unless you're a little broken inside - you'll be doing exactly the same. By the end you're likely to have a lump in your throat too.


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