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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome: 23.11%
Worth A Look37.33%
Just Average: 22.67%
Pretty Crappy: 9.33%
Sucks: 7.56%

15 reviews, 135 user ratings


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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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by Mel Valentin

"Weirdness for weirdness' sake. Don't believe the hype."
2 stars

Cheerless, hermetic, dreary, garish, and featuring one of the most misjudged performances in recent film history, Tim Burton’s adaptation of the late Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (filmed in 1971 as "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"), with Gene Wilder in the lead role), is and ultimately too flawed to recommend. Burton’s adaptation also signals the decline of a talented visual stylist that began with the remake of "Planet of the Apes" and accelerated with "Big Fish" (the forthcoming "Corpse Bride" may, hopefully, challenge that assertion).

Fans of Roald Dahl’s novel or the 1971 film directed by Mel Stuart (later disavowed despite being based on Dahl’s screenplay) will be immediately familiar with the storyline. Willie Wonka, the world’s foremost chocolatier lives inside a fantastical candy factory. As the first of many flashbacks informs us, Wonka closed his factory to the public and to local employees due to industrial espionage. The surrounding post-industrial town has suffered terribly from Wonka’s withdrawal into his self-made fantasy world (and as the town's major employer).

Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), our protagonist, lives in dire, if surprisingly conflict-free, surroundings with his parents and two sets of grandparents (as in the source material and the 1971 adaptation, Charlie’s four grandparents share a single bed). Charlie’s life is not quite Dickensonian, but it’s close. His father (Noah Tyler) works at the local toothpaste company, but faces redundancy (thanks to high-tech machinery). Charlie apparently spends his days dreaming of visiting Wonka’s factory. He, along with four other children, gets his chance, when Willie Wonka sends out news of five golden tickets, placed randomly inside Wonka’s chocolate bars. Each ticket gives its holder (and a family member) the opportunity to tour Wonka’s factory. Charlie, of course, obtains a golden ticket, inviting his Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) along for the guided tour.

The other four children, as spoiled as Charlie is poor and humble, include Augustus Gloop (Philip Weigratz), an obese boy, Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), a spoiled little rich girl, Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), as ultra-competitive as her mother (Missi Pyle), and Mike Teevee (Jordan Fry), an obnoxious know-it-all obsessed with violent video games. At the appointed time, they meet their enormously eccentric host, Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp), whose tour of his factory hides an ulterior motive, described vaguely as an additional prize given to just one child at the end of the tour.

The haphazard tour leads, of course, to a series of misadventures, each one crowned by a Danny Elfman-penned song sung by the Oompa Loompas (Deep Roy, cloned via CGI technology). Elfman’s songs are as unmemorable as they are uninspired, and the dance numbers, meant to reference musicals (for example, Esther Williams aquatic-dance routines) that older adults would be hard pressed to recall, let alone care about it, even if the reference came immediately to mind. Burton and his screenwriter, John August (Big Fish), also tip their hand with several lazy film references, from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the 1958 version of The Fly, and on through to a gratuitous reference to a character from the 1960s television series, The Addams Family.

The dance numbers are just one indication, among many, as to why Stuart’s 1971 adaptation remains, at least for the time being, the definitive version. Burton, given a free hand, spares no expense in overdesigning enormous, garishly colorful sets. Burton’s penchant for production design over traditional narrative, what, in another context, might be called “gigantism,” was already evident in his first foray into big-budget filmmaking, the neo-baroque Batman and the sequel, Batman Returns. Here, Burton’s visual style fails to compensate for an unfocused storyline, a storyline that gives the ostensible lead character, Charlie, little to do except exchange platitudes with his family and Willie Wonka, and which transfers a recognizable character and dramatic arc from Charlie to Willie Wonka, who is given a risible, reductive childhood trauma he needs to overcome before the end credits roll.

The switch in focus from Charlie to Wonka leads to a larger, insurmountable problem, Johnny Depp’s performance as Willie Wonka. Decked out oversized sunglasses, a natty greatcoat, top hat and cane (not to mention the Prince Valiant/pageboy haircut and pale skin), Depp plays up Wonka’s popstar-like eccentricities, sometimes to comic effect, but rarely to elicit audience sympathy. Depp’s stylized, mannered performance, accentuated by oddball line deliveries (apparently meant to emphasis Wonka’s poor social skills), creates a distancing effect between his character and the audience. Later, as the audience begins to grasp that Wonka has become the central figure in the film (thanks to multiple flashbacks to a childhood haunted by a domineering parent), it becomes nearly impossible to shift sympathies from Charlie to Wonka. Instead, the audience is forced to accept (or reject) Wonka’s singularly underwritten transformation, from willful, isolated eccentric to family man.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a pro-family message (after all, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is marketed as a “family film”), ultimately the success of that message, where we, as audience members, buy into that message, depends on a fair approximation of verisimilitude, identifiable, believable characters whose stories and dramatic arcs compel us to care about their emotional lives. Depp’s Wonka, sadly, wasn’t intended as such a character (Gene Wilder’s interpretation of the character comes closer, however). Deep's nervous tics, twitters, and (occasionally) blank stares are just one more indication of Burton’s inability to step outside his carefully constructed, hermetically sealed universe and into our own.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12582&reviewer=402
originally posted: 07/22/05 01:50:31
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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
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT FINE ART DIRECTION, NICE SPECIAL EFFECTS, GOOD PERFORMANCES AND OVERALL A DECENT FILM 3 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 LittlePenguin FUCKING BLOWS, AND BURTON/ DEPP ARE MY ALL TIME FAVES, SORRY 1 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
7/22/05 Lily TERRIBLE TERRIBLE ACTING 3 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Jul-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Sep-2005




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