Friday, June 30, 2017


Year 9, Day 181 - 6/30/17 - Movie #2,675

BEFORE: Ha ha, remember a couple of days ago, when I worked out a plan to stay on Netflix for a week?  Oh, I was so naive back then - two days later, I'm already questioning the wisdom of that plan, not because of any Netflix problems (it's not you, Netflix, it's me...) but because I knew that my chain of animated films, as good as it was, had two problems.  The chain was still one day too short, and I had no properly-themed film to watch on July 4.  But I realized yesterday that with all of the actors that are in more than one of these animated films, and I realized this by dropping in "Moana" at the last minute, that I could flip around an 17-film section of the chain, connect from tonight's film "The BFG" to the film that I was going to watch right before Comic-Con, and I could also drop in one more film that would be (sort of, I think) related to American Colonial history.  (No, it's not "The Birth of a Nation", it's the other one...)

Now, a couple of things - do I really want to flip this part of the chain? It means I'll lose my obvious connection to Comic-Con - but I don't HAVE to watch a superhero film right before going to San Diego, so maybe I'm fretting over nothing, I'm so good at that.  Essentially I've got two paths that both get me to my week-long July break - and they both use the same films, just in a different order.  Either way I fill the space allotted, and oddly enough, both get me to "Spider-Man: Homecoming" on July 10, which is the Monday after the film opens.  I really can't go wrong here, I just have to pick one over the other, so I guess I should pick the path that gives me a historical film on July 3 or 4.

The only other difference between the two paths is where they leave me after the San Diego trip - which has better linking opportunities for when I get back?  I can't even think about that right now - tomorrow I'll just have to pick one of the two films that "The BFG" will link to, and go from there.
For today, Jemaine Clement carries over from "Moana" - but will he be here tomorrow, also?  Hmmm....

THE PLOT: An orphan girl befriends a benevolent giant who takes her to Giant Country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.

AFTER: This is an odd film, even for an animated fairy-tale type of story.  I'm not that familiar with the Roald Dahl story it's based on, so I don't know exactly where it's coming from, or what to do with the story that it brings me.  How does it help me, or kids, to think that there are giants reaching into windows at night and snatching kids away, presumably to eat them?  I mean, kids do go missing sometimes, and there's not always an explanation for what happened to them, but if this is the answer, then I'm not sure that I want to know about it.  Then again, the real reason kids go missing is possibly even worse.

More girl power this week in animated films - I know, technically this is only half-animated, it's a combination of live-action and CGI.  But the Hollywood marketing people don't seem to know what to do with a film that's only part animated.  What's the problem?  Who cares how a film is made, as long as it gets made and tells a story?  Why do we have to get so hung up on labels?  Anyway, the technology has come a long way since "The Polar Express", they've really improved the process so that's it's maybe 99% photo-real.  You could see that in "Rogue One" also, the way that Grand Moff Tarkin and the young Princess Leia were motion-capture/CGI and the average viewer probably couldn't tell.  It's an exciting time to be an animation fan, I think. 

The actress they cast to play the Queen doesn't look very much like Queen Elizabeth, though, but clearly it's supposed to be her.  Helen Mirren probably wasn't available, so I guess they had to do the best they could, but I'm guessing they could have done better.  Heck, if they had put Eric Idle in a wig and a dress they might have done better.

Now, as for the story problems here, I'm a little unsure exactly what the BFG's function is, roaming the streets of London at night, collecting and cataloguing dreams.  For what purpose, to what end?  He stores them in jars, but then goes out again to give the dreams back to people - but why take them in the first place, if he's only going to give them back?  Why not just leave them where they are, and cut out the middle-man?

I think a lot of the language is clever, not the words that someone apparently carried over from Dahl's other story "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", but the ones that end up being plays on words, or that add extra meanings to words, like calling vegetables "vege-terribles".  That's a clever portmanteau that also expresses an opinion about the subject matter, so I approve.  But does anyone else have a problem with the name "Big Friendly Giant"?  I mean, the concept of "Big" is implied by "Giant", right?  All giants are big, therefore you don't need the extra word in there.

And in fact, he's not that big - he's the smallest of all the giants that we see in the film, so why isn't he just called "The Friendly Giant"?  The other giants bully him and throw him around like a football, so I suppose there is a teachable moment here for the kids about how bullies need to be stopped - but stopping them with more violence shouldn't necessarily be the answer.  I wish that Sophie and the BFG could have found a way to outsmart them, and not just get a bigger bully (the British military) to step in and solve the problem.  Oh well, whatever keeps more kids from getting eaten, I guess.

NITPICK POINT: When they give the dream about the evil giants to the Queen, why didn't we get to see that?  It would have been so much more interesting than just hearing the Queen talk about it - "Show, don't tell".  It should have been possible to make an animated sequence with the bigger giants tearing up London and causing mayhem - was this deemed too traumatic for kids?

I did have some screening troubles with the Netflix - about every 10 minutes the sound dropped out for about a minute.  I could have fixed it while it was playing by rewinding a bit, but since I'm watching Netflix through a Sony Playstation, the controller was close to the TV, and since I was on the recliner on the other side of the living room (we have a very large-screen TV) with a cat on my lap, I couldn't reach the controller to rewind and fix the problem.  So it was easier just to let the silent minute go by and miss some dialogue.  I hope this won't be a constant problem over the next two weeks, as I watch more films this way.

Also starring Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton (last seen in "Calendar Girls"), Rafe Spall (last seen in "The Big Short"), Rebecca Hall (last seen in "Transcendence"), and the voices of Mark Rylance, Bill Hader (last heard in "Sausage Party"), Adam Godley (last seen in "Around the World in 80 Days"), Daniel Bacon, Jonathan Holmes, Chris Gibbs, Michael Adamthwaite, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Paul Moniz de Sa, with a cameo from Matt Frewer (last seen in "Ishtar").

RATING: 5 out of 10 Corgi farts

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