Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Starring:
Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed By:
Tim Burton
Grade
A

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the second movie based on Roald Dahl's novel of a candy maker and his magical candy factory. Before you think that Tim Burton's film is a remake of the original (which starred Gene Wilder as Wonka), Charlie is actually more faithful to the original book in terms of tone. Of course, it does take some liberties, but in the end the final product has is own way to tell the story.

Charlie begins with a contest: five golden tickets have been hidden in Wonka's chocolate bars. While we see the other four tickets being won, the contest is shown through the eyes of the young Charlie, who lives in a run-down shack with his parents and grandparents. After some drama and a bit of luck, Charlie finds his own entrance into the factory that his own grandfather had been employed in before it was closed off to people.

Make no mistake, while the movie is about an eccentric candy maker and his magical candy factory, a lot of the core of the tale is about the inequality of riches and the many ways children become bad. Though Charlie is a sweet and giving child, his counterparts are all representative of the many kinds of spoiled children. And, because these children are such uncontrollable hellions, their own actions prove to be their undoing.

It's really hard to say which makes this movie more special: Tim Burton's morbid artistic eye or Johnny Depp's oddball take on Willy Wonka. Burton's history of cinematography has proven he's one of the few directors with an artistic eye and a certain preferred style in which he tells his stories. This film is no different. While there are some dark moments and locations, there are equally some brilliant and colorful spots to contrast the morbidity. The whole surreal landscape really draws one out of the real world and into Wonka's dysfunctional existence.

Johnny Deep is a laugh riot as the oddball Wonka, who obviously has certain plans during the events of the tour of the factory. Even as his plans play out, he has moments where he's obviously uncomfortable with being around other people, conflict and even the mention of his own past, which sends him into flashbacks with his dentist father (played by Christopher Lee). There are moments where Johnny's actions, reactions and just the little comments he makes are just laugh-out-loud funny. But, to appreciate them, one needs to have a bit of darkness in their sense of humor.

Danny Elfman once again shows up in a Tim Burton with the same musical chops that made A Nightmare Before Christmas so wonderful. Each of the Oompa Loompa songs are wonderful to listen to and show a good sense of variety as they are aimed, theme-wise, at the target of the events. Johnny's Wonka doesn't sing this time around. Personally, I'm glad that he didn't as it would have taken away from the goofy persona created and made the character unnecessarily sappy. The only drawback is that we don't get the boat ride song ("There's no earthly way of knowing... "), which is a shame as it was in the actual book and would have fit the oddball character well (That and the fact that Johnny's good friend Marilyn Manson did a disturbing rendition of it on his first album).

Anyone who dislikes this movie based on the fact that they're fans of the original film should have their eyes gouged out. Seriously. Get over your bias and go see a movie that as much a piece of humorous art as it is a social statement on spoiled children. If you don't like this film because it's different than the original film, than know this much: Roald Dahl HATED the original movie because it took liberties with his story.

- - Vane

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