By JEFF FARANCE
''The BFG'' rated PG; critic's rating 3 out of 5 stars
Magical doesn't guarantee greatness any more than bigger means better. ''The BFG'' is a visual symphony for the eyes and heart. But the 117-minute live-action marvel of makeup and special effects never delivers on the promise of the tremendous talents involved.
Director/producer Steven Spielberg lets his capacious imagination run, yet the film never takes flight.
The tale derives from the toddler-terrorizing Roald Dahl, late of ''Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'' and ''James and the Giant Peach'' fame.
It's the final screenplay from Melissa Matheson, legendary for penning the ''E.T.'' script, among many others, and for having been married to Harrison Ford. She succombed last November to cancer at age 65, and is the subject of the film's dedication, ''For our Melissa.''
''BFG'' stands for Big Friendly Giant (played by Mark Rylance, who just won his Best Actor Oscar for co-starring in Spielberg's ''Bridge of Spies''), not for some X--rated acronym that's probably going through your mind. It could just as easily have meant Big Farting Giant, given some of the film's gags.
Actually, BFG is something of a runt compared to the other giants. So he lives alone, way off by himself, doing magical stuff like collecting people's dreams in bottles.
One night, while harvesting nightmares, he plucks young Sophie (fairly adorable and spunky Ruby Barnhill) from an orphanage, then goes on to protect her from the bigger, bad giants -- Big Unfriendly Giants?
And they visit the Queen of England to marshall Her Majesty's minions for a fight to vanquish the BUGs. In a tall tale, it's a small world after all.
''The BFG'' may star one cinematic giant and be the product of another, but it definitely doesn't tower over the competition.