Film review: The BFG | Star Trek Beyond | Chevalier

Mark Rylance is mostly terrific as the BFG and Ruby Barnhill is sweet as ten-year-old orphan Sophie, but Steven Spielbergs film never really takes flight the way it should. Picture: Storyteller Distribution
Mark Rylance is mostly terrific as the BFG and Ruby Barnhill is sweet as ten-year-old orphan Sophie, but Steven Spielbergs film never really takes flight the way it should. Picture: Storyteller Distribution
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The last film reviews from The Scotsman.

The BFG (PG)

***

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader

Steven Spielberg should be the ideal candidate to bring Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book about a big friendly giant to the big screen, but there’s something about the author’s idiosyncratic, plot-light tale that resists the Spielberg touch. Despite the sincerity with which it has been made, it’s cumbersome in a way that its eponymous behemoth never is.

The good news is that the BFG himself, played by a motion-captured Mark Rylance, is mostly terrific, and newcomer Ruby Barnhill is sweet as Sophie, the ten-year-old orphan he befriends after snatching her from her bed. But the film lacks that magical intimacy Spielberg and his late screenwriter, Melissa Mathison, captured with E.T. and its excessively long middle section meanders too much to really hold interest. Things pick up when the BFG and Sophie enlist the help of the Queen (a wonderful Penelope Wilton) to fight the man-eating giants that push the BFG around and threaten to consume Sophie, but the film never really takes flight the way it should.

Star Trek Beyond (12A)

****

Directed by Justin Lin

Starring John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba

Although loaded with poignancy after the tragic death last month of Anton Yelchin and the passing last year of original Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy, this third outing in the rebooted franchise is focused squarely on being a breezily entertaining summer blockbuster, one that’s light on its feet and not quite as annoyingly pleased with itself as its immediate predecessor. Co-written by Simon Pegg (who returns as Scotty), it sees the crew of the Starship Enterprise forced to contend with a crustacean-faced tyrant called Krall (Idris Elba), whose early destruction of the Enterprise is symbolic of a greater desire to wreak havoc on the galactic peace the Federation has spent decades trying to maintain. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto return as Kirk and Spock, while Fast & Furious director Justin Lin, taking the reins from JJ Abrams, keeps everything moving at an entertainingly fast clip. It’s also hard to argue with a movie that elevates The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage to the status of classical music.

Chevalier (15)

***

Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari

Starring Vangelis Mourikis, Nikos Orphanos, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos

Modern masculinity gets an oddball skewering in this latest film from Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari. One of the leading lights of the Greek Weird Wave, she takes a dog-whistle approach to satire with a film about group of six men who engage in a series of status-testing games while aboard a luxury yacht on an octopus-fishing trip in the Aegean. Bolstered by an underlying allegory about the financial crisis, the film is abstract to the point of absurdity, but that may just be the point.

Ghostbusters (12A)

***

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

The misogynistic trolling of Paul Feig’s all-female reboot of the beloved 1984 original is sent up in sly fashion by the plot, but the cast itself provides the main justification for this new iteration of Ghostbusters. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Saturday Night Live stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones bring a definite freshness to proceedings and Chris Hemsworth is pretty funny too as their objectified dumb blond secretary. Too bad, then, that the film repeatedly attempts to placate the makers and fans of the original by shoehorning in groaning call-backs in the form of rubbish cameos (yes, you, Bill Murray).

The Neon Demon (18)

****

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Taking the modelling world’s narcissistic need to worship and devour youth to gruesomely literal extremes, Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn’s LA fashion satire is designed as an abstract fairytale in which Elle Fanning’s ripe-for-corruption babe-in-the-wood is abandoned in a morally deficient city where turning 21 is career suicide and the outwardly gorgeous are riven with insecurity-laden urges that run to the vampiric, the necrophilic and even the cannibalistic.

Alistair Harkness