Burton and Depp's Chocolate Factory Less Dream, More Nightmare in 10th Anniversary Blu-Ray

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
StumbleUpon icon
Del.icio.us icon
Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Tim Burton Johnny Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tenth Anniversary Blu-ray

I'm a Tim Burton fan. Flat out, I've loved everything of his I've seen, from the Michael Keaton BATMAN film through the black and white FRANKENWEENIE short. Even SWEENEY TODD is on my list of Burton masterpieces.

But until recently, I had not seen CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, which puts a slight dent in what I considered a perfect record.

If you've read the Roald Dahl book, or seen the slightly renamed Gene Wilder film WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, then you may be somewhat taken aback by the deviations made in this version of the film. Oh, for the most part, it's the same story: Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is a good kid from a poor family; Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp) agrees to open his mysterious factory to those who find hidden Golden Tickets; rotten kids from around the world make the cut; cue the Oompa-Loompas for every lesson learned as the rotten kids become victims of their own flaws.

And there's so very much to like in this film. The dystopian outside world contrasted against the candy-colored LSD fever of the interior of the Wonka factory were simply brilliant set designs. Having Deep Roy digi-cloned into being nearly 200 Oompa-Loompas, with the songs performed representing multiple genres of music. Freddie Highmore was born for the role of Charlie Bucket, and all the kids did great in representing their over-the-top personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins.

What detracts from the film is the character of Willie Wonka, as portrayed by Depp. Perhaps it was because the film's original release was so very close to all the hubbub surrounding the Michael Jackson scandals, but Depp's Wonka isn't just weird, it's creepy. Add to this the script changes that give Wonka "daddy issues" with his dentist father (played to the hilt by Christopher Lee) who denied him candy as a child, and the resulting isolation from family ties this engendered in the Wonka character, and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY goes from something darkly humorous to, at times, plain out nightmarish.

This 10th anniversary Blu-ray release includes a number of bonus features, including commentary by Tim Burton, a featurette on turning Deep Ray into all those Oompa-Loompas, a dissection of the scene involving the trained nut-sorting squirrels, an exploration of Roald Dahl, and a music-only soundtrack version of the film. The cardboard slipcover also contains a note from Burton and a photo booklet offering promotional shots of all the stars.

Heavy on style, uncomfortable on story, I'm not ready to introduce this version to my children who love the Gene Wilder version.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0