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Sweets and dark chocolate.

  • May 23, 2012
*** 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 ("come with me, and you'll see, a world of pure imagination"), and you know the quirkiest of scenes. If you have deeply fond memories of the Gene Wilder version of the narrative, then you'll either welcome the Burton take on the story with open arms, or you'll close the gates to your heart (the proverbial "factory") on sight. A complicated case, this film; we are tempted to compare it with the so-called "original", although at the same time Burton makes it very clear that it's supposed to be evaluated on its own terms. Instead of letting my nostalgia take over, I embraced the situations and images that Burton re-created, re-arranged, and rightfully made his own. He's not looking to ruin your childhood. He's simply assaulting the senses in a colorful variety of ways, like he always does; fashionably, and not without his fair share of charm and wit.

Let's see. This is the story of a poor boy named Charlie Bucker (Freddy Highmore) who lives in a broken down house with his mom (Helena Bonham Carter), father (Noah Taylor), and an abundance of grandfathers and grandmothers; his favorite of which is Grandpa Joe (David Kelly). The Bucket family practically lives right next to an old chocolate factory owned by the mysterious and unseen Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp), who is just now - for the first time in many years, so we're told - opening the doors to the factory yet again, but only to a limited party of five lucky people. You see, Wonka has cleverly placed a fantastical "golden ticket" inside five random Wonka Chocolate Bars; and it doesn't take long before each one of them is found. The lucky five include: sporty Violet Beuregarde (AnnaSophia Robb), electronic addict Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), bratty Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), chubby German boy Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), and Charlie himself after he finds a ten dollar bill lodged in the snow by chance and - also by chance - happens upon a chocolate bar that contains the golden slip of shining paper.

The kids must attend with a parent. Charlie chooses Grandpa Joe, since he used to work for Wonka and would like to see how the factory and the man alike have changed over the years that followed the day that many were laid off from their jobs. And with that, they're off; Wonka gives them a personal tour around the factory, and as expected, the children cannot resist temptation. Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river, Violet turns violet and blows up into a big blueberry, Veruca is attacked by highly intellectual squirrels (an element not present in the previous adaptation, instead there were golden eggs), and Mike Teavee's dream comes true when the crew visits a room in which a cool gadget can teleport chocolate bars (and eventually Mike) into a television. It's all fairly predictable and routine, if only because we know the story so well thanks to the Gene Wilder version and the source novel; but Burton finds a way to put his big old noggin to good use in just about every scene.

While it's yet another effectively strange whimsy comedy from one of Hollywood's most imaginative minds; this "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is not without its hard candy. It's mostly a sugar-coated delight with a few bittersweet and touching moments as well as a plethora of darkly amusing comic scenarios; although at times, Burton seems as if he'll do anything for a laugh. There are many things in this world that Burton seems to find humorous, and sometimes when he puts these things on film, they work; and other times they fall flat. Depp plays the Willy Wonka role convincingly, but it's hard to ignore the creepiness factor that is present throughout (he reminds a lot of people, including myself, of Michael Jackson). Sometimes, his on-screen attitude garners laughs that are earned, and then there are brief but often painful moments in which it feels as if he's lost too much charm, and that's where jokes like the one where Wonka makes a weird noise with his tongue to send a verbal signal to his trusty Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy) fall terribly flat.

But...I cannot ignore the craft that went into this picture. All-in-all, it's more of an experience than a story; although the script is nice and polished. The only problem with the screenplay really is the fact that Burton attempts to expand a bit too much on the ambiguous mystery that is Wonka's past. The good news that comes with the bad news in this case is that we get to meet Wonka's father, played by the legendary Christopher Lee. Case in point though, this character and subplot wasn't needed. Nevertheless, as far as experiences go, this is a stimulating one. Danny Elfman's musical score is spectacularly rhythmic and the Oompa Loompa songs that come up after every child is offed are great, the special effects are genuinely dazzling (even if the practical effects count for a lot more in the end), and the tone is a nice mix of the macabre and the sentimental. It might not be the best emotional sucker punch to the soul that Burton has to offer, but the after-taste is suitably glorious, making it a rather recommended viewing.

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May 26, 2012
this gave me the impression that I wasn't going to like this movie and yet--surprise! I had a good time with it.
More Charlie and the Chocolate Fact... reviews
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 . September 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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, …
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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