CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: 10th ANNIVERSARY
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Johnny Depp as WILLY WONKA
Freddie Highmore as CHARLIE BUCKET
David Kelly as GRANDPA JOE
Helena Bonham Carter as MRS. BUCKET
Noah Taylor as MR. BUCKET
Missi Pyle as MRS. BEAUREGARDE
James Fox as MR. SALT
Deep Roy as OOMPA-LOOMPA
Christopher Lee as DR. WONKA
Adam Godley as MR. TEAVEE
Franziska Troegner as MRS. GLOOP
Annasophia Robb as VIOLET BEAUREGARDE
Julia Winter as VERUCA SALT
Jordan Fry as MIKE TEAVEE
Philip Wiegratz as AUGUSTUS GLOOP
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Tim Burton
BY KEVIN CARR
For as much grief as Tim Burton has gotten over the years from directing remakes starring Tim Burton as a bizarre character, he pretty much nails the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Like for the original starring Gene Wilder almost 35 years before it, the test of this remake is how the film holds up after a decade or more.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was released in the midst of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp frenzy. Both were high profile stars in their own right, and they were in the midst of some of their biggest hits every (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies for Depp and the upcoming “Alice in Wonderland” for Burton). “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” managed to be a film that captured the child-like-yet-dark nature of the book and the original film while differentiating it as its own work of art.
Looking back on the movie ten years after it was made, it does have some artifacts that don’t hold up completely. In particular, many of the computer generated effects still look a bit cartoonish compared to today’s work. In the context of the film, it is forgivable because the movie itself is like a live-action cartoon. Even without that excuse, the effects seem to prop up the characters rather than take center stage.
I know people have gotten tired of Tim Burton’s delivery over the past few years, considering the low box office of films as diverse as “Dark Shadows,” “Frankenweenie” and “Big Eyes.” However, like “Mars Attacks!,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is one of his adaptations that should continue to live on.
What I liked the most about this film – especially when viewed in the context of being ten years farther down the road than when I first saw it – was that it did not set out to simply re-shoot the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Of course, it has many of the same characters, lines and plot elements. However, it feels more adapted from the book than remade from the previous film.
Taking center stage in this is Depp as Wonka. His portrayal is very different from that of Gene Wilder, and we are given a look into his life and how he became the man he is. More over, we see his true social awkwardness and a cry for help rather than the way Wilder played him, as a sort of madman puppeteer pulling the strings throughout the story.
I love “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” but I also fully appreciate “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for what it is, what it strives to be and what it succeeds on doing. They are vastly different movies cut from the same tissue, and both have strong merits on their own. They serve as perfect companion pieces for each other and make the newly issued 10th anniversary Blu-ray a good bet.
Many of the special features on this 10th Anniversary Blu-ray are ported over from the original DVD release from 2005. These include the Behind-the-Story elements: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Dreams,” “Different Faces, Different Flavors,” “Designer Chocolate,” “Under the Wrapper,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Sweet Sounds,” “Becoming Oompa-Loompa,” “Attack of the Squirrels,” “Fantastic Mr. Dahl” and the pre-vis versions of the Augustus Gloop and Mike Teavee dances.
Additional features include a commentary track by director Tim Burton and a music-only track featuring Danny Elfman’s score and songs. There’s also a short “Club Reel” shown in dance clubs in Europe, the theatrical trailer and an online credits link. Also included in the pack new for this release is a photo booklet with slick, full-color photos from the film.
The cool new Blu-ray feature is the “In Movie Experience.” This includes embedded interviews, pop-up trivia and in-character jokes, and behind-the-scenes features that plays along with the movie. Dubbed “Television Chocolate” by the narrator, this feature is common to many higher-profile Warner Bros. releases. While it takes the entirety of movie to watch, it is a nice way to experience a slate of filmmaking information that plays along with the movie.
This in-movie feature is not a commentary as much as it is a way to get through the special features without hopping around a menu of bonus features. I’ve always enjoyed these Warner Bros. in-movie experiences simply because it takes full advantage of Blu-ray branching technology and plays seamlessly. If you’ve seen the film a couple times already, it’s a nice bonus to watch without adding much running time to the film itself.