In 1982, director Steven Spielberg and the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison collaborated on the family-film classic E.T. and struck gold. Here, they tackle a work by beloved children’s novelist Roald Dahl, and while it seems like this should be a perfect fit, the filmmakers can never quite summon the requisite magic. A young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is taken from her orphanage by a big, friendly giant (a computer-generated creation voiced by Mark Rylance), and eventually helps him get rid of unfriendly giants. The characters are underdeveloped, leaving us with no affection for them or sense of their emotional stakes. The pace is glacial, and the overall tone aims for whimsy but labors too hard at this goal, and it shows. There are jokey scenes that will please the littlest ones, but older kids will be nonplussed, and parents will struggle to stay awake.
Rated PG. 117 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)