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15 reviews, 135 user ratings

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Burton's finest and most consistent film since 'Mars Attacks!'"
5 stars

The 1971 film version of Roald Dahl’s beloved story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is one of those movies that a kid sees and adores, only to watch it as an adult and wonder what the hell they were thinking of back then. Sure, it had a number of nifty special effects and a scarily effective performance from Gene Wilder in the role of candymaker Willy Wonka–the things that everyone remembers–but it also contains far too many songs for its own good, a relatively drab narrative style and a cast that, with the exception of Wilder and Jack Albertson (as the wily Grandpa Joe), was uniformly dull and unmemorable. (This probably explains why the title was changed to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”) The problem was that the film was essentially designed as a vehicle by Quaker Oats, who financed the project, to sell candy bars and whatever artistic merits it might have were secondary. Don’t get me wrong–I have a soft spot in my heart for it but you never get the sense while watching it that journeyman director Mel Stuart had any real feel or connection with the material

What makes the new adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” such an amazing film–and yes, I would put it right up there with the likes of the “Harry Potter” films and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” as an instant family classic–is that it is obvious from the opening frames that director Tim Burton has a perfect connection to Dahl’s original story. No doubt Burton was hired both for his visual skills and for the fact that this particular combination of director and property sounds like a match made in heaven. (Of course, we all said that about the idea of Burton doing “Planet of the Apes” and look how that turned out.) However, what really makes the film succeed is that Burton shares Dahl’s unique method of blending sentimentality and sadism into a creepy, funny and always tasty confection that will elate children of all ages and horrify those parents without a sense of macabre humor. As a result, this is both the best screen version of one of Dahl’s works to date and Burton’s most consistent work since the sadly underrated “Mars Attacks!”

A brief recap for those who have never read the story or seen the original film. Reclusive candy tycoon Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) decides to hold a worldwide contest in which the children who find the five golden tickets hidden inside Wonka Bar packages will be given a tour of his top-secret factory. One of the zillions of children dreaming of winning that ticket is Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a young lad who lives in wretched poverty with his loving parents (Noah Taylor and Helena Bonham Carter) and all four grandparents in a tiny ramshackle shack. Because of sheer luck, and perhaps because he is, after all, the best little boy in the world, Charlie wins a ticket and finds himself, along with Grandpa Joe (David Kelley) outside the Wonka Factory gates with the other winners–gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), overachiever Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), spoiled rotten Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) and know-it-all wise-ass Mike Teevee(Jordon Fry)–waiting for the signal to enter. When it comes–in the shape of a group of singing puppets that inadvertently catch on fire–they decide not to take it as a warning and, with the seemingly demented Wonka as their guide, they begin the decidedly non-OSHA-approved tour.

Those familiar with the story will know that the bad children begin to misbehave in various ways and wind up paying a terrible price for their transgressions–one is attacked by squirrels while another winds up requiring an emergency juicing–as the queer little people known as Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy) sing malevolent ditties about the perils of misbehaving. However, it turns out that Burton and screenwriter John August have a few tricks up their sleeve in order to flesh out the character of Wonka. Specifically, we get flashbacks so that we can see the kind of strange childhood that would form an adult as loopy as Wonka. The first clue is that his fearsome father, almost inevitably, was a dentist. The second clue is that Dad, just as inevitably (considering that this is a Tim Burton film) is played by none other than Christopher Lee, a man who could put a warp or two in anyone’s record.

Visually, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a wonder to behold–how could it be anything else with a visual stylist like Burton at the helm, an army of technicians at his disposal and an ace cinematographer like Philippe Rousselot capturing the images? The opening scenes, in which we see the details of Charlie’s hard-knock life, maintain an effective blend of reality and fairy-tale imagery that is quietly effective. Once we get inside the factory, all bets are off and Burton keeps throwing one spectacular image or idea after another and the amazing thing is how many of them stick. Among the treats are a series of wild musical performances from the Oompa Loompas (one is done in the style of N’Sync while another finds them donning Sgt. Pepper-era outfits), weirdo bits of humor (such as the moment when we learn how Wonka makes his whipped cream) and a scene which manages to cover one of the key plot points of the book while also working as both a sly dig at how genuine art can be reduced to just another advertisement (like the odious Pepsi ads that manipulate scenes from “Spartacus”) and a hilarious homage to one of the most famous moments in film history.

What makes the film more than just a piece of especially attractive eye candy is that Burton has lavished just as much time and attention on the characters and the story as he has on the visuals. While Charlie in the first film was clean and well-scrubbed and kind of boring, Freddie Highmore (who previously appeared opposite Depp in “Finding Neverland”) comes across as a real little boy while still retaining the essential goodness of Dahl’s original creation. The brattier kids are just as good as being little snots–so good, in fact, that everyone in the audience will cheer as they get their vicious comeuppance one by one without ever feeling guilty about the sight of them getting their just desserts–also retaining Dahl’s original intentions. (Here, even though we are told that the kids are going to be all right, the final shot we get of them deliciously suggests otherwise.) Even the additions to the story work uncommonly well here because they seem to have been developed out of a love for the material and not just from a desire from someone to put their own stamp on someone else’s material.

Of course, the real jaw-dropper here is the performance from Johnny Depp–a turn so flamboyant that it makes his work in “Pirates of the Caribbean” seem positively staid by comparison. Although some have suggest that he has based his character on Michael Jackson (in much the way that he was said to have based Capt. Jack Sparrow on Keith Richards), his performance is the kind of one-of-a-kind work that doesn’t seem to have been influenced by anything on this planet. However, while this could have easily to a grotesque scenery-chewing farce, Depp’s performance works wonders because of two things. The first is that every freaky move he makes–and believe me, they get pretty freaky–manages to simultaneously seem both utterly unthinkable and utterly right in every single scene; you can’t imagine anyone else coming up with such stuff but once you see it, you can’t possibly think of another way to do it. The second is that he is such a finely-tuned actor at this point that he can be completely weird and yet still generate a genuine rapport with his fellow actors even while his character is keeping them at arms length–he has a nice on-screen chemistry with Highmore and his scene with Lee is quite possibly the most sincerely touching that either one has ever performed.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a real winner–the kind of family film that kids will adore (and perhaps even become inspired to check out Dahl’s other literary works) and that will make adults wonder why they didn’t have films that good when they were younger. It is funny, creepy, touching and throughly enchanting work that will satisfy the cinematic sweet tooth of anyone looking for genuine enchantment in their multiplexes this summer. There have been a few great films–“Land of the Dead” and “Batman Begins” come to mind–but those have been largely dark and grim experiences. This film, on the other hand, is the kind of experience that will send everyone out into the street with a smile–one that doesn’t come simply from the absence of “The Candy Man” on the soundtrack.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12582&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/15/05 00:17:56
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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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