Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Warner Home Entertainment -
2005 - 115
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the 2005 Tim Burton interpretation of the Roald Dahl book of the same title and a remake of the popular 1971 version of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Once again, our protagonist is Charlie Bucket, a young boy from a poor family who dreams of visiting the alluring Wonka chocolate factory. Maker of the worldï¿½s finest and most sought after chocolate, Wonka has shut down his factory to all outsiders for fear of competitors making off with his best candy-making secrets. The whole world is taken by surprise when the reclusive chocolate maker announces that he will give five lucky children a full tour of his factory, a lifetime supply of chocolate, and a special prize will be given to one of the fortunate five. All they need to do is find one of the golden tickets he has placed inside the wrappers of his candy bars.
Worldwide pandemonium breaks out as everyone frantically searches for the illusive golden tickets. The first to strike gold is the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, followed in turn by Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teevee, and finally the humble Charlie Bucket. They all bring their allowed guest to the eagerly anticipated opening of the Wonka gates on the day indicated on their tickets. Fans of the first movie installment of Wonka may notice that Burton and company elected to go for a Mrs. Beauregarde and a Mr. Teevee in contrast to the 1971 version, but neither are high contributors, so most may not even pick up on this bit of trivia.
Wonkaï¿½s chocolate factory lacked some of the mystery for me this time around, and even the children involved didnï¿½t have the same sense of awe as in the Mel Stuart/Gene Wilder version. The completely edible wonderland has a very Dr. Seuss feel, and is a good updated version of the 1971 set that took our breath away over thirty years prior. Candy still grows on trees here, and the river of chocolate, which quickly claims Augustus Gloop as the first victim of the film, is still mixed by waterfall. One down, four to go. As the group weaves their way through Wonkaï¿½s mystical wonderland of Oompa Loompas and everlasting gobstoppers, the kids slowly start to drop off, one by one.
Violetï¿½s gum-chewing habit turns her into a giant blueberry, Verucaï¿½s terrible attitude gets her sent down a garbage chute, and Mike Teevee gets beamed across the room in millions of tiny pieces and reassembled as a pint-sized version of himself. Only Charlie and Grandpa Joe survive the entirety of the tour. Though the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and the ï¿½Slugworth Conspiracyï¿½ arenï¿½t part of the 2005 version, the nut-sorting squirrels and the Wonkaï¿½s father back story are replacement tidbits. All in all, the two versions are fairly comparable considering the time they were made, though my fond memories of the 1971 version probably still have that one in the lead. As to the Wilder versus Depp debate, both do a fantastic job in their own right. Depp bring his usual talents for character acting to the table, and Wilderï¿½s musical Wonka still has its appeal.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is packed full of colorful goodies. The drab grays of the town dominate the early going, but they are quickly replaced by the fantastic colors of Wonka and his creations. The ï¿½Wonka redï¿½ of his jacket, the Wonka company bikes, the Wonka logos; everything Wonka pops. At the Wonka factory welcome, the colors green, blue, orange, pink, red, and gold all fill the eye with wonder. The lush greens of the main candy room, the pinkish/purple of the Wonka boat, and the wild colors of the inventing room are a site as well. The reflective leather Oompa Loompa outfits are likewise notable, as are the stark whites of the Wonkavision chamber. There is no shortage of eye-candy in this one.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround is equally impressive. The front channel is most noticeable in the Wonkavator scenes and with some of the audio ricochets throughout. The filmï¿½s vocals come through loud and clear on the center channel. The subwoofer doesnï¿½t do a whole lot, but the rear channels make up for it. There is an almost constant musical presence in virtually every scene of this movie thanks to Elfman. There are good reverb effects, great separation, and noteworthy transition effects. From steam and buzzers to nut sorting squirrels, there are audio goodies for everyone.
The audio and video are solid, but this one-disc offering sorely lacks in the supplements department. Though the menu--complete with a chocolate factory assembly line theme--is engaging, there isnï¿½t much substance. The scene selection menu is clean, and the Oompa Loompa ï¿½gooï¿½ transitions are cute, but other than that, you wonï¿½t find much. ï¿½Becoming Oompa Loompaï¿½ (7:17) showcases the many talents of Mr. Deep Roy, but is really just filler. The Oompa Loompa dance is a waste; donï¿½t bother. If youï¿½re really looking for supplements, youï¿½d better spring for the two-disc deluxe edition. There youï¿½ll find the featurettes and other extras you might expect from a release of this caliber.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isnï¿½t quite as charming as its 1971 predecessor. Johnny Depp is good (no surprise), but his performance is just markedly different from Gene Wilderï¿½s. Fans of both actors likely wonï¿½t be able to pick a favorite. Burtonï¿½s eye for the odd make this movie engaging, and the audio and video make it wholly enjoyable. If you just came to see the movie, youï¿½ll be fine. If you like extras, get the deluxe edition. Either way, this is an easy rental recommendation for casual fans, and a purchase option for big fans or fans with kids.
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