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Stick to the Book Next Time, Tim

  • Sep 24, 2010

The first third of this movie, where you meet poor little Charlie Bucket and his family in their dilipidated home, where they are so poor that his grandparents sleep in one bed by the fire, head to toe, is so nearly perfect and straight from the novel by Roald Dahl that I actually got tense as Charlie opens each candy bar and still does not find that golden ticket. The disgusting children around the world finding those tickets were spot-on as well, including the best update whatsover in the movie, where Mike Teavee, who in the book dresses as a cowboy and shoots his toy gun at the TV screen, is translated into an expert videogamer playing a Quake-like game while being interviewed.

Of course, perfection when it comes to translating a movie from book to screen is something rarely achieved, and I should be grateful for even that first third. Because as soon as Willy Wonka greets the children, the flaw in this movie becomes all-too-readily apparent: Tim Burton repeats the mistake he made in the first Batman film by putting a famous actor in the lead role who doesn't so much play the role as he plays himself playing the role. In Batman, it was Jack Nicholson who couldn't see the movie because of his own greasepaint; here, it's Johnny Depp, who looks the part, but plays it with more ticks than Big Ben. Sometimes, as in Nicholson's Joker, it's funny--but the problem is that it is distracting from the story, and the story should be king.

After the introduction of Wonka, and starting the actual tour of the factory where the children show their true colors, we get back to the story, but every once and awhile Burton highlights Wonka again, with the addition of flashbacks to Wonka's own childhood that are not from the book and were totally unnecessary to the plot.

On the plus side, Burton uses Dahl's lyrics for the songs that the Oompa Loompas sing about the bad children. Unfortunately, the songs are so overproduced in both sound (a typically Danny Elfman-type error with movie music--it was fine when he was in a rock band, but in a movie, you only get one chance to hear the lyrics and having the music overwhelm them defeats the purpose of having lyrics) and visuals (the Oompa Loompas are one man, digitally reproduced, and in the dance numbers this becomes so apparant that instead of enjoying the visuals, you are distracted by noticing the filmmaking).

All in all, I liked the movie, for when Burton gets it right, such as when the squirrels decide the Veruca Salt is a very bad nut, it captures the book perfectly. I'm just saddened that Burton (or the studio?) felt that they had to insert differences from the book. Danny deVito's Matilda remains the best adaptation of Dahl from book to screen, and that's because he didn't waver from the book, in large part due to his children threatening him that doing so would make them very, very mad. I guess Burton didn't have that type of editor.

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September 24, 2010
Excellent review, very excellent. However, I think this film is far better than your making it out to  be.
September 24, 2010
Perhaps I am being too harsh, but that book is a real favorite of my childhood, and I had a hard time dealing with the addition of Wonka's unnecessary backstory. If I hadn't been so familiar with the book, I probably would have liked the movie much more.
September 24, 2010
I agree that reading book makes all the difference in how you view a film adaptation seeing as I have never read the book I think my opinion is a little one-sided. However, I think that the back story of Willy Wonka was fascinating and intriguing you get to know the character more and some of the mystery of why he makes chocolate for a living is revealed and I think that adds more depth to the films story and makes it more grounded and less whimsical.
More Charlie and the Chocolate Fact... reviews
review by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    Advertised to audiences both young and old alike, the universe that Roald Dahl created in his 1964 novel "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" has always been one of dark but affectionate humor. So far, there have been two noteworthy adaptations; one in 1971 starring a memorably apathetic Gene Wilder, and another in 2005 directed by Tim Burton. And guess who plays the leading role in the latter. You know the story, you know the characters, you know the music …
review by . January 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's no secret that the 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory became a cult classic hit after it's strange flop in theaters.  What people don't know right off hand, is that Roald Dahl absolutely hated it because it deviated from his book a little too much.  In fact, Dahl hated it so much he refused to sell the rights to any of his books for years.  When he finally did sell the rights to another book, it would be just before he died (and from that you received the movie: James …
review by . March 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tim Burton takesone of the most beloved stories of all time and turns it on it's heels....
Tim Burton is a master at constructing brilliant and unique films that boggle the mind and defy all beliefs there films that deliver a bold new twist each time but what makes Burton a master is his attention and devotion to his story. The detail and meticulous design of the sets, the costumes, the atmosphere of his films and how they all in some  strange way  impart a certain message of sorts   that  has a  bizarre connection to real life.  Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation …
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Definitely a die-hard fan of the original; Johnny Depp played a failing Wonka. Not my cup of tea.
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
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a twisted tim burton take on a classic story...i will say i liked it better than the origional.
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was ok I was hoping it to be as good as the orginal I think it could have been better!
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
I like the story, but Johnny Depp creeped me out and so did the same actor who played the umpa lumpa- just down right disturbing.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Definitely better than Alice. I thought this was good, but nothing compares to the original.
review by . November 17, 2008
Chorus:   Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka   The song sticks in my brain   Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka,   This chocolatier's insane     A magician and a chocolate wiz   His creations are incredible   He's the best darn guy that ever lived   Too bad that he's inedible     When they stole his secret brews   He sealed the factory tight   He lost another dozen screws   But …
review by . July 27, 2006
Making a remake of 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' could easily be redundant and unnecessary. Fortunately, with the high-tech wizardry and Johnny Depp's key performance, 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' is a rich, but darker ride. Some of the same elements are there, and the development of the story is the same, but this time the atmosphere and the ending are much different. Both versions have musical numbers, and the story is still basically Dante's 'Inferno' for children (with modern …
About the reviewer
Glen Engel-Cox ()
Glen is a forty-something communications professional living near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He grew up in Texas and has also lived inLos Angeles, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Glen also … more
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005  film adaptation of the 1964 book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Directed by Tim Burton, the film stars Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket and Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. The storyline concerns a young boy (Highmore) winning a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by an eccentric candy maker (Depp).

Development for another adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory began in 1991, which resulted in Warner Bros. providing the Dahl estate with total artistic control. Prior to Burton's involvement, directors such as Gary Ross, Rob Minkoff, Martin Scorsese and Tom Shadyac had been involved, while Warner Bros. either considered or discussed the role of Willy Wonka with Nicolas Cage and Jim Carrey.

Burton immediately brought regular collaborators Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman aboard. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory represents the first time since The Nightmare Before Christmas that Elfman contributed to the film score using written songs and his vocals. Filming lasted from June to December 2004 at Pinewood Studios in England, where Burton avoided using digital effects as much as possible. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released to critical praise and was a box office success, grossing approximately $475 million worldwide.
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Movies, Comedy Movies, Family Movies, Kids Movies, Johnny Depp Movies, Tim Burton Movies, Book Adaptation, Roald Dahl Movies, Willy Wonka, Helena Bonham Carter Movies
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