..

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Deluxe Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee
Director: Tim Burton
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 116 Minutes
Release Date: November 8, 2005

“Where does that pipe go?”

“That pipe happens to go to the room where I make the most delicious kind of strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge.”

“Then he will be turned into strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge? They'll be selling him by the pound all over the world?”

“No, I wouldn't allow it. The taste would be terrible. Can you imagine Augustus-flavored chocolate-coated Gloop? Eww. No one would buy it.”

Film ***

I don’t think there’s a kid alive who hasn’t grown up with 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Lord knows I saw it many times in my years of youth. To many, it remains a cherished classic, but the unbeatable pairing of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp have succeeded in making perhaps the truest screen version of Roald Dahl’s classic story, appropriately renamed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Much has been said about Depp’s ultra eccentric take on the role that Gene Wilder made famous in the original movie. About every review commented on Depp’s supposed channeling of Michael Jackson. Whether he was going for the MJ touch or not, the strange performance definitely fits in with Burton’s approach to the material, and therefore is something of a success.

The central story is the same. It involves young Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore, of Finding Neverland), a high-spirited kid despite living in underprivileged circumstances. As a worldwide contest involving the finding of five golden tickets in Wonka Bars gets underway, even Charlie knows that the possibility of retrieving one is simply one in a million. After all, his family can only afford to give him one candy bar a year for his birthday.

But then the unthinkable happens. With four golden tickets already discovered, Charlie manages to obtain the fifth and final ticket that will allow him to take tour of the most successful factory in the world. Charlie will be accompanied by his wily Grandpa Joe (David Kelly), who used to work in the factory. When he worked at the factory, times were happier, until all the employees were laid off for reasons unexplained.

Before long, Charlie is at the gates of Wonka’s factory awaiting the precious tour. And everybody remembers the other mongrels...I mean, children, who also won the prize. There’s Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), the biggest fan of Wonka Bars there is; Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) the snottiest child that ever existed who demands everything out her sucker father (James Fox); Violet Beauregarde (AnnaSophia Robb), who deems herself the best at everything; and finally, Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry), whose last name should indicate his primary obsession.

Now, if you thought that the bratty children came across surprising booby traps in the original, just wait till you see how they're dealt with in the new version. Augustus falls into a river of chocolate and sucked up a pipe. Veruca crosses paths with a clan of nutty squirrels. Mike becomes tempted to travel into a television set, and Violet gets quite a colorful makeover which you’ll have to see for yourself.

With Burton at the helm, you simply know what to expect in terms of production design. This is by far one of the director’s most glorious looking films to date. Once we’re inside the factory, we’re inside a whole new world, the likes of which only Burton’s production team can make possible. When the doors open, each frame is alive with color and wonderful detail.

Another popular element retooled for this version are the Oompa Loompas, who are all played by the same actor (Deep Roy). Watching the movie, I felt that Mr. Roy must be the most exhausted performer for a single movie. Each scene where one of the children fall into a trap is followed by terrifically over-the-top music number courtesy of the Oompas themselves.

And this version's biggest strength is the addition of a back story for Willy Wonka. While the original movie had its moments, you never really learned too much about the candy man himself. The new version touches up quite nicely by explaining why and how Wonka became the man he is. And the final scene is indeed most touching.

There’s no question that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a definite improvement over the original movie. Without Tim Burton, this new take could simply have not been possible. His vision mixed with Johnny Depp’s perfect eccentric performance make this a superb piece of entertainment.

Video ****

Since it carries one of the most outstanding production designs you will ever see, this movie deserves to be seen on DVD. We’ve had many fantastic looking discs this year, but I certainly think that this Warner release will be earning high points for video quality at this year’s DMC Awards. The anamorphic picture is everything one could ask for in a presentation. Image quality is consistent, while colors and image detail take the performance to a whole new level. You feel like you’re actually there in the factory. Amazing job all the way through!

Audio ****

The 5.1 EX mix brings this adventure to life in such a grand way, making it a strong match for the video quality. With such a monumental production design at hand, Tim Burton and his team made sure to make sound a key element. The sound mix does this element absolute justice. From opening scene, the sound factor is at a pure high, but once we enter the factory, it gets even better. Each set piece brings with it its own distinct sounding significance. Those music numbers sound fantastic too. High marks all around.

Features ****

You’d be doing yourself a favor by choosing this two disc Deluxe Edition over the single disc release, since there’s clearly more to go around. Disc One includes the theatrical trailer.

Disc Two includes a handful of tasty goodies. Of course, I mean featurettes, and they all do a fantastic job of illustrating what went into making the more fascinating features of the movie. There’s “Becoming Oompa-Loompa”, which shows how one actor was turned into hundreds of Oopma-Loompas! “Attack Of The Squirrels”, which looks at the hilarious squirrel sequence, The Fantastic Mr. Dahl” takes a look at the real Roald Dahl, “Oompa-Loompa Dance” looks into the musical numbers. There are also two interactive games; The Inventing Machine and Search For The Golden Ticket: “Can You Find The Golden Ticket?”.

Summary:

No matter how many times you’ve seen the first movie, Tim Burton's take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a pure must-see for fans of the original novel. It’s a visually engaging and superbly entertaining film, and one of the best DVD transfers of the year, hands down!

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com