"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
Directed by Tim Burton.
Written by John August. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl.
Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter and
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 7/25/05
Tim Burton really has been hit-or-miss for
me ever since I saw "Batman" more than 15 years ago; sometimes I
really love his stuff, like "Ed Wood" or
sometimes, I don't know what is happening or what he was thinking
when he signed on, most famously with
"Planet of the Apes" but also with films like "Mars Attacks!",
featuring such a great cast you almost can't believe it's dogshit.
One thing is certain, though--every time he
has worked with Johnny Depp, Burton has come up aces. "Ed
Hollow" and "Edward Scissorhands" are all, to some degree, great
movies, and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" fits comfortably
amongst those films in terms of style, substance and full-on
In this adaptation of the Roald Dahl
book--and re-imagining of the Gene Wilder classic "Willy Wonka and
the Chocolate Factory"--a deprived kid named Charlie (Freddie
Highmore, who just appeared with Depp in
Neverland") wins the chance to tour the world-renowned Wonka
Chocolate Factory, conveniently located in his hometown.
Charlie wins this opportunity by buying a Wonka chocolate bar that
has one of five Golden Tickets scattered throughout the world...and,
along with his grandfather and four other kids plus guardians, is
allowed to see all that the world's biggest mass production plant
has to offer.
The factory, run by one Willy Wonka (Depp),
has been closed to the public for 15 years, ever since employees
began giving away secrets of the Wonka production success to rival
firms. Wonka has allowed these five special guests to come
tour his factory because he will select one of the five kids to
receive a special prize...which only reveals itself after the other
four kids are...well...
Here is where "Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory" is so great, much as the Wilder film was so great: it
really is quite sinister at times, be it Wonka's clear hatred or
misunderstanding or whatever it might be about his interest in
children, or later, when the kids begin to disappear at the hands of
traps that Wonka has clearly meant to force certain children out of
the picture. This behavior, combined by the strange appearance
of everyone's favorite midgets The Oompa Loompas, makes this film a
bit scary at times for the young'uns, as evidenced by the number of
scared children sitting near me in the theater whenever one of the
onscreen kids was swiftly removed from the action. I was
loving this; little Bobby sitting next to me was frightened when the
bubble-gum champ (Annasophia Robb, from
"Because of Winn-Dixie") started to take on the physical
tendencies of a blueberry pie. The song-and-dance routines
only make this worse in some cases; again, I was howling, but this
might not be for everyone.
Depp seems to be channeling many of the
things that made his Ed Wood rendition so great; the small man with
big dreams that doesn't have the greatest sense of the world around
him. Even though it was a familiar role to me, I still enjoyed
many of the quips as delivered by Depp and his look is (naturally) a
little spooky. Highmore was better in "Finding Neverland" but
he isn't asked to do much more than react to the hijinks taking
place around him ; other Burton regulars surface, like Helena Bonham
Carter, Christopher Lee (as Willy's dentist daddy) and Missi Pyle,
and all do their best play on the word "weird" to marvelous effect.
But the sets are really cool; creating that
big chocolate world must have been quite a task, because the end
result is what makes "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" so great.
Once the kids get into Wonka's shop, the visuals really take
over...and, the kids in my theater were in hog heaven right along
with me. The oohs and aahs that came from just the big opener
when everyone walks into the big chocolate garden (complete with
edible everything) was cool to listen to; from Willy's magic
elevator to the Nut Cracking Room to those spacey sunglasses
required in the TV Room late in the film, Burton once again has a
visual masterpiece in his grasp.
Good times. The running time was not
too long; love that the Oompa Loompas are all played by one man
(Deep Roy, soon to be the Verne Troyer of mini-stars) and that a
number of times, you are just kind of freaked out by watching him
dance. Good ending; another great score by Danny Elfman...what
can I say? It's not a classic in the sense that I want to see
it over and over again, but while I was there I was pretty pumped.
Why can't all Burton films be this way?
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard