THE BFG (PG, 117 mins)

Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall. Director: Steven Spielberg.

THE final collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison, director and screenwriter of ET, is a gloriumptious rendering of Roald Dahl’s fantasy, peppered with the author’s gobblefunk lexicon of jumbly words.

“Quite often, I is left instead of right,” comments the title character to explain his muddled vocabulary, which rechristens two animals hippodumplings and jiggyraffes.

Sweetness and childish wonder glister in every frame, including a towering motion-capture performance from Mark Rylance as the eponymous hulk, who blows bottled dreams into bedrooms using his phizz-whizzing metal trumpet.

On-screen rapport between the Oscar-winning actor and young co-star Ruby Barnhill galvanises the picture, building to a rousing crescendo at Buckingham Palace, where a swig of frobscottle, the BFG’s effervescent green brew, induces rip-roaring bouts of whizzpopping that prove you cannot beat a well-delivered breaking-wind gag.

The heroine is a precocious orphan called Sophie (Barnhill), who is snatched from her bed at the witching hour by a hooded 24ft figure.

The behemoth spirits the girl over verdant valleys and crashing seas to the rolling landscapes of Giant Country.

“No such place,” Sophie defiantly informs her host, who introduces himself as the Big Friendly Giant (Rylance).

The BFG would not normally kidnap a chiddler but he explains that he was fearful Sophie might cause a great rumpledumpus by yodelling the news that she had seen a giant.

“No-one would listen to me,” she pleads, “I am an untrustworthy child.”

A tender and deeply touching friendship is forged between Sophie and her kind-hearted abductor, who exists on a diet of disgusterous snozzcumbers and is bullied by filthsome fellow giants including Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler, Maidmasher and Manhugger.

In order to rid Giant Country of these man-gobblers, Sophie hatches a hare-brained scheme to visit the Queen (Penelope Wilton) at Buckingham Palace.

The BFG joins her on this madcap quest, and his presence smacks the gobs of the assembled staff including the Queen’s dutiful maid Mary (Rebecca Hall) and head butler Mr Tibbs (Rafe Spall).

Directed with verve by Spielberg, The BFG is a visually arresting ride that gently tugs heartstrings in between rollicking set-pieces.

Rylance’s digitally conjured character has a twinkle of believability in his eyes, and Barnhill is a suitably spunky and spirited heroine in the midst of the eye-popping mayhem.

Some of the darker elements of Dahl’s source text have been excised entirely so young audiences will not endure sleepless nights after the end credits roll.