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15 reviews, 135 user ratings

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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by Marc Kandel

3 stars

In the end, chocolate is chocolate, and good by just about any standard. I happen to like Bittersweet chocolate. The sweetness is not overt. It can be quite chalky and raw to the palette at just a touch to the tongue, but if you roll it around and really investigate, the blend proves itself velvety and warm, interesting if not rich. Such a confection is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The enigmatic candy genius, Willy Wonka, sends out five golden tickets in his candy bars for an opportunity to tour his mysterious factory, closed off to the public for many years to prevent corporate espionage. Five children find the tickets. Five kids enter, one kid leaves. Wonkadome.

Differing from the 1971 version which prefers to leave Willy Wonka veiled in mystery, Tim Burton’s remake tightens the focus on the famous candy-maker so that the audience gets perspective on what ingredients have produced the eccentric Chocolateer, and then juxtaposes this upbringing with that of poverty stricken yet good-hearted Charlie Bucket and his family. Wonka’s childhood emerges through flashback as Willy’s interaction with the children stirs old memories of his own youth as the son of the town Dentist, stringently forbidden from any and all sweets, trapped in signature Tim Burton stylized headgear; what would be a simple retainer for most becomes a permanent smile-affixing, portable head dungeon for young Willy, and the beginnings of his obsessive pursuit to create the world’s greatest candies.

This choice of narrative gives the audience a new pathway to follow Roald Dahl’s original story, with just enough time spent on the wondrous and familiar imagery of the Chocolate Factory itself. And of course, one cannot omit the contingent of spoiled and wicked little brats accompanying the two protagonists; it’s too good an opportunity for Burton to pass up- reenacting the delightful sadism of Roald Dahl upon a fresh batch of punks ripe for torture, all done in the perfect arena- a colorful, cartoonish abattoir where Burton can give full vent to his time-honored assault on Whitebread America and explore individualism vs. herd mentality. But putting the Burton stamp on it also anchors the film in a specific style- one that we’ve seen many, many times before in his previous films: light becomes dark, weird becomes normal, nice people aren’t, odd people aren’t nice, but they aren’t bad either. Dahl’s story is told, but there is no mistaking the storyteller. It makes for a good watch, but in the end the film retains nothing of the stirring, timeless magic of its predecessor. This film is entertaining shock therapy for Willy Wonka, not for an audience come to feel the wonder of a world of pure imagination.

Burton’s film is much more interested in the before and after of the factory visit than the visit itself. This choice almost relies on the original film to fill in the blanks while taking great pains to differentiate itself at the same time- it’s a curiously mixed message. We are sped through the factory and the various ends devised for the unworthy (including updated Oompah Loompa songs by much less freaky Oomp-Loomps), but there is a marked difference due to the personality of Wonka himself- Gene Wilder portrayed a seemingly disinterested, reserved, almost heartless man, revealed to be a warm, caring, hopeful human being dedicated to preserving his exact methods. Depp’s Wonka is a self-involved, disconnected lunatic who cannot relate with anyone, remaining inscrutable and standoffish even to those who earn his trust. His methods, unlike Wilder’s Wonka, no longer work. His product is stagnant, and he must change himself to better his goods, not bring in an heir to maintain status quo. But the selection process is different- there’s no good deed shining through to be found here.

Charlie wins in this version not by proving himself to be a genuine person of honor and goodness, but by simply remaining alive and intact through the factory tour’s morality filtering system- a win by default, not by merit. Burton does possess a method to this madness- it turns out that this Wonka’s lackadaisical, stream of conscious management approach is no longer working due to his very monomaniac attitude, stifling originality, and allowing dullness and mediocrity to seep into his products (Wow, maybe this is a biography of Cameron Crowe). The heart of the movie, it turns out, is not to be found within the factory, or even within Charlie (though he is the spur for this realization), but outside the factory walls and within Willy, who re-discovers the magic that can be found in the love created by a family, which proves a better source of idea and imagination than living sequestered from the outside universe in an unfettered freakshow. There is no Slugworth here. Wonka is his own worst enemy. Well, ok, there is a Slugworth, but really, its not as big a part.

The casting is great, pitting Depp’s combo of Ed Wood and Pee Wee Herman (minus the boy-love slant thank God) against the moral compass of Freddie Highmore’s sweet natured Charlie Bucket. The two make every bit as great a team here as they did in “Finding Neverland”, though again, I miss the bond created between Wilder and Peter Ostrum in the 1971 version. The cast of brats and their parents are appropriately done, Mike Teevee for one, appears to have been snatched out of time straight from the original, though with a nice modern day X-box twist. David Kelly at first seemed a bit wan and frail to be the Grandpa Joe I remember from childhood, but quickly proved that he was up to the task with boundless energy and witty delivery.

The character in the end that impressed me the most is Willy’s father, Wilbur Wonka, played with relish and an amazing softness by Christopher Lee, providing the core emotion in the film I had heretofore not witnessed to my satisfaction. I won’t say more, but this performance is enough to enrage me that Lee, who can bring inspired, stimulating villainy, even to the dullest of projects (cough…Episode II & III…cough) isn’t offered as many roles giving him the opportunity to do the opposite, as he proves here he can portray love as easily as cruelty. It’s a side of the actor I have never seen before and I was amazed at this man’s capacity to play a father. Were Vincent Price still alive, I am sure he would be Burton’s Wilbur Wonka, but I am happy to see that Burton has a new revered actor for the job. I have never been more saddened by typecasting as now when I see that this man could have been doing other roles such as this for the past three or four decades.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is not the everlasting gobstopper of the original- more a piece of chocolate which tastes just fine, gone once it is consumed, leaving one in need of the next piece of chocolate.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12582&reviewer=358
originally posted: 11/25/05 13:39:35
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User Comments

1/29/17 stephen a giant pos 1 stars
6/21/15 David Hollingsworth gives remakes a bad name 2 stars
1/02/15 Catherine H zzzzz ... worthless remake, stick to Wilder version 1 stars
12/23/13 Michelle O any excuse for Depp to don COPIOUS amounts of makeup= he's no Wilder! 3 stars
9/08/11 Robin Awful adaptation that bastardizes the book while wrapping itself in a flag of faithfulness 1 stars
7/14/11 art an Adequate remake of the 1971 classic. 3 stars
6/05/11 Jeff Wilder Good for what it is. The Gene Wilder one is still the best though. 4 stars
1/29/11 Linda J A great remake of Willy Wonka. But then, what movie isn't great with Johnny Depp? 5 stars
6/30/09 orion Good for kids but overall farily blah 2 stars
6/06/09 Pokejedservo Not bad but I admit I too preferred the first film. 3 stars
3/27/09 Stevo Um... why, in England, are people paying in American dollars? 1 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. another freakish performance by depp :D 4 stars
8/14/08 Shaun Wallner Depp is so funny!! 5 stars
5/10/08 drydock54321 why does johnny depp always play such strange dark characters 4 stars
4/23/08 art A GRIM REHASH OF THE 1971 VERISON 3 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP the 1st time it was creepy and the 2nd time i loved it! sooo funny! 4 stars
6/08/07 Danielle Ophelia Lets the sugar speak for itself and concentrates on the tale's underlying menace. 4 stars
6/04/07 katy great filim 4 stars
5/03/07 johnnyfog The first one sucked ass, and so does this one. Why do people like either? 2 stars
4/17/07 Stevo UK ''Willy Wanker and the sack of shit''. Is that a better title? 1 stars
4/02/07 jo sing it boring for some part 4 stars
3/16/07 cleofus jones can't stand the songs..but love burton//depp//movie 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Burton is the Willy Wonka of Hollywood. 4 stars
12/04/06 Stanley Thai A feast for the eyes, this film is filled with great sets and visuals! Great film! 4 stars
11/09/06 becky very good the chocolate was so yummy 5 stars
9/03/06 David Pollastrini Darker than original. 4 stars
8/31/06 kate tasker it sucked 1 stars
7/25/06 Mrs. Robinson sorry, but it just cant compare to the old one 1 stars
7/17/06 David Cohen Who would have thought Burton and Depp could make an unappealing combo 3 stars
7/05/06 Tom Groholski Sticks closely to the book and entertaining 4 stars
6/14/06 Poopsy Fartworthy I love the new Charlie and the chocolate Fcatory film! 5 stars
5/14/06 Diane P love johnny depp but unfortunately for me this remake didn't compare to the first. 3 stars
4/30/06 dinesh kumar Dahl, Depp and Burton, all my favorites and what an amazing movie. 5 stars
4/26/06 lala depp looked freay, hated the songs, but it was ok but the original was WAY WAY better 3 stars
4/16/06 JoJo betta than da original, but I agree w/ emily, he looked like Michael Jackson. 2 stars
4/02/06 Quigley better the 2nd time. Johnny Depp was great, and the look of the movie is visually stunning 5 stars
3/23/06 jesika wtf? total ripoff of the original- i almost shot someone after i cn this pos movie 1 stars
3/20/06 Rebecca I loved the movie, it's great for kids and enjoyable for everyone. 5 stars
3/18/06 Elizabeth An entertaining movie but it can't beat the original. 3 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Too short. Songs irritating rather than entertaining. 2 stars
2/04/06 Shawn Gadberry Interesting, different, but the original is the better movie by FAR! 3 stars
2/03/06 Michele why do people like this story? 2 stars
1/29/06 the laughing man Not better than the original, but it is a more faithful adapation of Dahl's classic. 4 stars
1/19/06 emily thought Depp looked like a creepy version of Michael Jackson, but overall it was very good 4 stars
1/18/06 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Just when you thought Johnny Depp couldn't get any gayer 3 stars
1/16/06 terry Liked johnny depp - didnt like the movie over all - I was disappointed with this movie 3 stars
1/15/06 Alexis Edgy, dark and closer to the original story than the Wilder version. Depp is wonderful. 4 stars
1/12/06 sammy BIG PIECE OF UGLY, BORING CRAP 1 stars
1/09/06 Indrid Cold Depp tries to command the screen a la Jim Carrey, but he just isn't that great of an actor. 4 stars
12/23/05 Quigley the movie has great acting and incredible visuals, computer and set design. hail, Burton! 4 stars
12/23/05 S Gray Freddie Highmore is excellent but this movie was garbage. 1 stars
12/21/05 Ethan M. A classical film remade, but Depp could not live up to the standards of Wilder. 3 stars
12/21/05 tina mateer first won was better,yet this was good and did you see all the chocolate? heaven 4 stars
12/18/05 Bree Can't be compared to original. So dont! Excellent film. Good fun. Very close to the book! 5 stars
12/05/05 Sean D. Sheridan Not as good as original with Gene Wilder!! The Oompa-Loompas in current movie disappoint! 3 stars
12/04/05 stickman Silly movie, avoid it. 3 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. Very enjoyable remake of a classic. 4 stars
12/01/05 George Depp was great as usual,but I hated this remake. 2 stars
11/26/05 ods Funny and weird 5 stars
11/24/05 Idiot_for_LMP pass on this film. ruined a great classic 2 stars
11/23/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Deep Roy should have won best supporting actor. 3 stars
11/13/05 Del Pretty crappy remake of an all-time classic, the oompa-loompas just sucked ass 1 stars
11/12/05 Quigley johnny depp looks gay and pale, but his performance was as superb as the set design and CG 4 stars
11/10/05 Steve A great disappointment. Both from Burton and Depp 2 stars
11/09/05 natalie one of the best movies that tim burton has directed and johnny depp was awsome in it 5 stars
10/31/05 missjie86 Endearing, annoying, creepy and bizarre, but a Depp portrayal is always interesting. 4 stars
10/13/05 BoB A bit wierd and strange- but its meant 2 b, right? 3 stars
10/07/05 brittany boring and had no differences than the original movie 1 stars
9/22/05 Sugar Depp's performance, outstanding. Elfman's music, inpiring. Overall movie, I am in awe of. 5 stars
9/04/05 Green Gremlin Makes the original version look like an episode of "HR Puf'stuff" !!! 5 stars
9/04/05 Daryl Walker This flim was very funny at times. Johnny Depp was fantastic and it was just a fun time. 5 stars
9/03/05 littlefishy pretty good (not!) suked shit.......... 2 stars
9/01/05 Danielle I thought it was funny and I like the charecters in the movie 5 stars
8/31/05 WWW.FALLOUTWEAR.TRIPOD.COM/ great skate t-shirts and funny t-shirts. 5 stars
8/27/05 Tom Burns I loved this movie. Johnny Depp is hilarious. 5 stars
8/25/05 Nick Better then the original. REAL lessons to learn here. 5 stars
8/24/05 Eden Suffers from crap musical numbers and a tacked-on back story 3 stars
8/17/05 Littlepurch Not a patch on the original but still great.Music was great, kids were funny. Depp just ok. 4 stars
8/14/05 Snickerdoodle Really good, Johnny Depp is a riot and the songs are catchy 5 stars
8/12/05 Lynn Taylor cracking film loved it so much went bk to see it. Johnny depp is just brill 5 stars
8/09/05 bigfish reviewed by a cultural moron 1 stars
8/08/05 joy best movie ever! 5 stars
8/08/05 jada ok family movie 3 stars
8/08/05 joeysquids the original rrules-this is the best "remake" of all time 5 stars
8/06/05 tammi i is worth taking the family out 4 stars
8/06/05 ellziopscilly super! 5 stars
8/06/05 G Rosenberg Inventive, non-pandering fun 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack A million times better than the SHITTY Mel Stuart film from 1971! 5 stars
8/04/05 ron abrams just okay. looked great. not wild about deep. 3 stars
8/03/05 Christian The original was darker, and the "musical' features were just horrible. Still, enjoyable. 4 stars
8/03/05 Me Better than the original! 5 stars
8/01/05 C Vega More Loyal to the Book than Gene Wilders version and Perhaps dare I say it..... even better 5 stars
8/01/05 Wolfwhisper I seen it 4 times, Johnny Depp put a new edge on Willy Wonka! 5 stars
8/01/05 michaelb14 Depp was great as usual but Wilder still has the #1 in my book 4 stars
7/31/05 Beth Kerrick Good for kids; it wasn't as sinister as the original and obviously had better effects. 4 stars
7/31/05 R maybe sometimes taking liberties with a story is okay.. 2 stars
7/31/05 Matt Weak on nearly every single level. A failure for Burton and Depp. 2 stars
7/29/05 PK Charlie and the Chocolate Fatory proves what a genious Gene Wilder was in Willie Wonka... 3 stars
7/28/05 StuBot Burton lays a fools' golden egg. This movie, like his other recent attempts, fall far short 2 stars
7/28/05 sbpat21 very funny and exhilarating (***** 1/2 stars ) 5 stars
7/26/05 pym excellent movie, great adaptation of Dahl's book, very fine acting . I'll see it again 5 stars
7/26/05 John Our kids loved the movie!! 4 stars
7/26/05 Mike Olson Somewhat tedious. 2 stars
7/26/05 Mahogany Dear Hollywood, Stop remaking movies and just let them rest in peace! PLEASE!! 1 stars
7/26/05 Ty Spiceland Great movie, one of the best I've seen this summer 5 stars
7/24/05 Farrah I love Tim Burton films and Johnny Depp. This film was great and I can't wait to buy th DVD 5 stars
7/22/05 sully oompa loompa creepy,creepy,creepy,creepy, creepy 4 stars
7/22/05 Dan Just doesn't capture the essence of the original. 2 stars
7/21/05 Kankasaur if you're a teenager with headgear, this entire movie will make you want to kill yourself 5 stars
7/21/05 WilderFan71 Will not be remebered for decades! Depp's "Wonka" = "WackoJacko" 1 stars
7/21/05 Artic i loved this movie, but i love any movie with johnny depp in it 5 stars
7/21/05 TROGDOR the entire movie made me want to fucking kill myself 1 stars
7/21/05 RockyS Depp's performance is perfectly smart and creepy 4 stars
7/21/05 Nessus More fun than I thought it would be, fantastic visuals, quirky 5 stars
7/20/05 Ken Great update (the original is one of my all-time favorites). Depp is perfectly creepy. 5 stars
7/20/05 William Vollmer not quite as good as '71 version 4 stars
7/19/05 Danny Burton-esque through and through, but missing the "magic" or the '71 film adaptation. 4 stars
7/19/05 Ole Man Bourbon Lots of good stuff 4 stars
7/19/05 orpament weirdly enjoyable except for the oompah loompahs 4 stars
7/19/05 jcjs easily as wow as the original, better even...Depp great, clever, fun, wonderful 5 stars
7/19/05 SmackDown Depp was terrible as Wonka, Jim Carry please! It felt rushed out, painfull to watch. Sorry! 3 stars
7/18/05 darkone silly makes no real sense 3 stars
7/18/05 Rick Burton creates a GREAT world...however, justifying Willy's candy obsession...odd 4 stars
7/17/05 Jeff Wilder Great film with a weak ending 4 stars
7/17/05 Charlie Not as good as the original. Watch Big Fish, directed by Burton as well, and is better. 3 stars
7/17/05 Nicole Creepier/darker feel than the 70's version and slightly altered story 4 stars
7/17/05 cpbjr extremely interesting. lagged in parts, with some poor execution. 4 stars
7/16/05 ReboValence This is how the last adaptation of the book should have gone. 5 stars
7/16/05 KingNeutron 3 1/2 *s; good in-jokes and music. Depp's Wonka doesnt compare to Wilder tho 3 stars
7/16/05 Jim The Movie Freak The boat ride was scarier in the original. Oompa Loompa songs lame! Still very entertainin 3 stars
7/16/05 Titus Soo o . . . cool. 5 stars
7/15/05 Body odor. Finally a guy in makeup,who has a kid styled home, that doesn't molest children. Brillant. 5 stars
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  15-Jul-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



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