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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

  Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John August, Roald Dahl
Starring: Johnny Depp, James Fox, Jordan Fry, Adam Godley, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Missi Pyle, Annasophia Robb, Deep Roy, Franziska Troegner, Philip Wiegratz, Julia Winter
Links: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the IMDb, Buy the Book, Buy on DVD
Genre: Children's

This movie gets: 8.50 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 35th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Finding Neverland (2004), pearly's review of Howl's Moving Castle (2004) and pearly's review of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

"Whipplesumptuous." - a review by mino

Like pretty much everyone in the English-speaking world who grew up in the 1970s and '80s, I am a huge fan (and I mean a huuuge fan) of the classic Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). Like everyone my age, I've seen it a trillion times, and never get tired of it.

Therefore, you'd think the prospect of a remake, reimagining, or any other word starting with ‘re-’ to describe a different version of a particular film of this classic would have me worried. Well, sure, it did. And, to be honest, the key details of this version should have had me even more worried. Sure, I'm a huge Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory fan. But this version was touted as being more accurate to Roald Dahl's original book, and if there's one thing I love more than Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka it's Roald Dahl. I've read nearly all his books, except for Fantastic Mr Fox which I somehow never got into, multiple times and not just when I was a kid either. In fact, I re-read The BFG not three months ago. And nearly as much as Dahl, I love Tim Burton. A lot of people would describe Burton's career as ‘patchy’ at best; not me. Apart from the one stinker (and I won't name it; suffice to say it rhymes with Blanet of the Mapes), Burton's career is full of great films, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing his imaginative and wonderful visions. Then throw Johnny Depp into the mix and — well, my thoughts on Johnny Depp can't really be repeated in this forum, not the least because I am a married heterosexual male so it might prove unwise on a purely personal level.

So, all that — and I should have been really worried. After all: great plot, great author, great director, great lead actor: isn't that a recipe for disaster?

Luckily, it turns out not to be a recipe for disaster at all. No, it's a recipe for a big sweet yummy gooey chewy whipplescrumptious treat of a film.

The plot itself is well-worn, and I don't think I need to go into it too much. Finding Neverland (2004) star Freddie Highmore is Charlie Bucket, a young lad living well below the poverty line who has his biggest dream come true with the finding of a golden ticket which gives him admission to Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. Four other little monsters go in with him, and of course everyone who has comeuppance due gets it in an entirely appropriate fashion by film's end.

Casting Johnny Depp in the lead role, that of crazed chocolatier Wonka, is absolute genius. It's hardly surprising, given that Tim Burton is the director and Tim Burton casts Johnny Depp in pretty much everything — hell, Burton would cast Depp as one of the leads in bloody Thelma & Louise (1991) if he was remaking that — but that doesn't make it any less of an act of genius. Depp is absolutely perfect. A lot of people are saying he's much creepier than Gene Wilder's Wonka, but I don't think that's true — he's creepy in a different way. Wilder's Wonka was almost frightening in his innocence — obviously a great intellect whose aloofness just made him rather more frightening, in a robotic kind of way (a la The Stepford Wives (2004), maybe, except both funny and scary, when that film was neither). Depp's Wonka, on the other hand, doesn't come across as a genius at all: he comes across as a manic, if anything slightly dimwitted but rather more actively malicious malcontent, albeit in a childlike way — as if he's never really adjusted to the life of being an adult and is still a cheeky, often mean-spirited child.

In fact, the acting as a whole is marvellous, not just Depp. Highmore is great with what is actually a rather limited role, and his family (in particular David Kelly as a fine Grandpa Joe and Noah Taylor in a surprisingly entertaining role as Charlie's father, though Liz Smith's Grandma Georgina certainly steals the show) are very good, with the exception of Helena Bonham Carter as Charlie's mum — frankly I thought she was more than a little crap. The ‘bad’ kids and their families were very good too, particularly Annasophia Robb as gum-chewing over-achieving Violet Beauregarde and Missi Pyle as her pushy mother.

The other star, it's almost needless to say, isn't a person at all — it's Burton's filmmaking. Like all his films, it's a visual treat, and more than once I actually gasped out loud at some particularly sumptuous, delicious, colourful, or otherwise impressive sight on the screen. The film looks amazing, and I'm pretty sure I caught myself salivating a couple of times. The famous Oompa Loompas are all played by Indian actor Deep Roy, and I think their sameness is actually quite a good gimmick and reinforces how alien they are. Their songs are very good — the bits I could hear, anyway, the sound was terribly muddy — though only time will tell if they're as ‘timeless’ as the 1971 songs — or song, let's face it, they only had one.

The script is very entertaining (though I'd say a little less gag-heavy than the earlier film; it's more wryly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny in most places) and while they've made quite a few changes, it's still largely faithful to Dahl's story (there is one subplot that's a notable exception, though unlike some I thought it very well-executed and enjoyed it a great deal). For all the hype about how different it was from the earlier film, I have to say that… well, it's not. It focuses on different parts of the book, but I don't think it's necessarily that much more faithful. It is in parts, but it deviates in parts too, some of them quite substantial. And you know what? Both films are so well-done I don't care.

So, the big question: how does it stack up to Willy Wonka? Well, I don't know I can answer that. I've seen this film once, and the 1971 version probably more times than I've done number twos, so it's a near-impossible question to answer. On a first pass, though, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great piece of work, and I look forward to the next 999,999 times I see it. I'll report back.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 12 Sep 2005

"Love the original, but enjoy this one for a change" - a review by pearly

It would be surprising to me to find someone out there that I know that doesn't know of my legendary love of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). It should be a part of my greeting to people when I am first introduced to them: "Hi, my name's Nic and I'm totally in love with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was more than a little dubious about the announcement of a remake (though, they're apparently doing the rounds saying that it's not a remake at all, but is, in fact, an adaptation of the book - to which I say "whatever"). If I had to think of the two people with which this collaboration was most likely to succeed, then Tim Burton and Johnny Depp would be pretty high up on the list (possibly even at number one), so I had to simultaneously pull out my frowny worried forehead, as well as my curious lifted up eyebrows.

After having spent the better part of a year with that face on, I am pleased to be able to say that I greatly enjoyed this new version of the book / movie / whatever. Burton, along with screen writer John August, have put a bit of their own spin on the tale, and for the most part, they've kept the good bits good, and added in some additional top stuff too (and no Cheer up, Charlie).

The master stroke was, of course, casting Depp in the lead role of Mr Willy Wonka himself. Depp has a little of the Gene Wilder about him, but it's only the faintest hint, as Depp takes the character to new places, and wickedly so. I'm fond of Freddie Highmore too (who couldn't have loved him after Finding Neverland (2004)), and though I found him to be a little too cutesy in parts, and also the fact that he really didn't have the hugest of parts (especially considering the film is named after his character), he did an admirable job with the role.

My favourite parts of the film would have to have been the kids' entry into the factory, with the barely functioning metal puppet show (quite hilarious), the first few moments of the chocolate room including the chocolate river which actually looked real (the boat looked pretty awesome too), and any scene involving Grandma Georgina (Liz Smith) who is clearly the new Grandpa George.

On a more overall level, I liked the fact that the consequences of the children's actions were further explored (especially with the scenes towards the end of the film), and that Willy Wonka too was shown as a more three dimensional character, with his very own back story that gave us a great new character in his father (Christopher Lee).

As far as the kids and their families are concerned, here's my thoughts (again, in ticket finding order):

  1. The Gloops. Augustus (Philip Wiegratz) was one of my favourite kids in this version. He shined in his brief time on screen (sometimes literally - take it easy there with the makeup!)
  2. The Salts. I wasn't sold on the Salts, I'm afraid. I found Veruca (Julia Winter) to be too prim and proper, with not nearly enough parts spoilt brat. Correspondingly, Mr Salt (James Fox) seemed to play the part with a little too much hesitancy for my liking.
  3. The Beauregardes. I liked the playing up of the Beauregarde family as a stereotyped competitive mother and daughter combination. The switch of Violet (Annasophia Robb) taking her mother (Missi Pyle - who was great) into the factory instead of her father was a nice touch.
  4. The Teavees. Similarly, I liked that the Teavees had a bit of a different angle on them, though I found Mike (Jordan Fry) to be one of the more annoying actors to watch, and his father (Adam Godley) didn't really offer much either.
  5. The Buckets. Still a top family, especially the aforementioned Georgina. It was nice to see Mrs Bucket (Helena Bonham Carter - a Burton favourite) had her Mr Bucket (Noah Taylor) here, though whilst I though Taylor did well with his part, Bonham-Carter's fake teeth annoyed the hell out of me. Interesting that Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) was so in the background here - he didn't do much of note that I can remember.

So, I have to have criticisms, right? Right. Firstly, I'm not sure how I felt about the Oompa Loompa(s) (all played by Deep Roy). I thought that the idea of just having one person play them all was kinda clever, but I wasn't sold on the execution. Firstly, it didn't seem as professionally done as, say, the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). In some scenes, it looked too fake. Also, I found Roy's acting to be sub-par in many instances, and the Oompa Loompas were responsible for two of the other things I didn't care for in the film: the Oompa Loompas songs, and the female Oompa Loompas. The first song, about Augustus, was pretty decent, though I did have trouble understanding some of the words, but they got progressively worse throughout, and the words unfortunately took a back seat, which was annoying. As for the female Oompa Loompas, they are relegated to working in the factory's offices, which I thought was an unnecessarily sexist portion of the film.

There's bound to be other bits that I enjoyed / disliked, but for a first viewing, I've said more than enough. I'm never going to have a special place in my heart for this film like I do with the 1971 version, but I think that it was done about as well as it could have been. It had me enthralled throughout, and my level of excitement was not for naught. I'll be back for more.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 12 Sep 2005

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.50
Lowest rating: 8 (by mino)
Highest rating: 9 (by pearly)
 
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Reader comments

  1. personally i enjoyed charlie and the chocolate factory and i think that it was an excellent movie.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from random on Sat 10 Jun 2006 03:52 #

  2. by the way pearly you suck

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from loser on Sat 10 Jun 2006 03:53 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (2 ratings)

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