Although I considered it sacrilege to make another Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, it seemed like a better antidote to a rough day's stress than eating a chocolate bar.
Then why did the movie keep me thinking so darn much?
Admittedly, all systems were going higher speed after gulping 20 ounces of diet coke, but seeing this film as an adult, being able to grasp the subtleties and constant comparison to the original kept me wondering why there was a need to make another movie based on the popular Ronald Dahl classic with the same name.
Director Tim Burton recreates the story of tender-hearted Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a poor boy living with a family down on their luck but with the best intentions. When Charlie's father (Noah Taylor) is laid off from work, times become even tougher and meals downgrade from cabbage soup to watery cabbage soup.
Life for the Buckets holds one glimmer of hope, which comes from Willy Wonka's incredible chocolate factory, closed down to the world for years. Wonka announced that he would open up the factory to 5 lucky people who found a golden ticket inside one of his Wonka bars. Without the resources to buy a load of them, Charlie's chances seem doubtful, but where there is a child's dream, captured by Charlie and his Grandpa Joe, there is a way. And sure enough, Charlie gets one.
The other four children with golden tickets are spoiled brats, each with their own vices leading them to become ensnared in Wonka's crazy candy contraptions once the tour begins. Augustus Gloop's (Philip Wiegratz) gluttony leads him to fall in the chocolate river and get sucked up into a tube. Violet Beauregarde's (Annasophia Robb) penchant for gum and zeal to be a "success" in any form, keeps her chewing unsafe chewing gum that morphs her into a giant blueberry. Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) is such a brat, she always wants what she can't have. When that something is a squirrel trained to separate good nuts from bad nuts, and they find her to be a "bad nut," she, and her father, (James Fox) end up in the garbage shoot. Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry) is such a video game and television fanatic that he hops into a device to send him into a television in miniature form. When plucked off the screen, he's the size of a ken doll.
When Charlie is the only child left, Wonka rewards him with the unimaginable-- his factory, with the stipulation that Charlie leave his family behind. You see, Wonka had issues with his own family. His father was a dentist denying Wonka all forms of chocolate, sugar, and seemingly, fun.
The special effects were no more impressive than in the original and in fact were less so given the advances made in computer animation since the 1971 film debut (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). Generally new movie versions have better special effects or are dramatically different. This was neither, and hardly any updates were for the better.
The acting was certainly not as impressive as the first movie. Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) bares a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson, which was a constant distraction, but his gagging every time he was about to say "family" was perhaps the most convincing part of his character. I always expected him to barf. In an effort to capture the "dark" side of Dahl's writing, his character was creepier and more vindictive than in the first film. Gene Wilder was Willy Wonka with flair. Johnny Depp is Willy Wonka with an attitude. This Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) was not as lovable, and Veruca Salt was not as grating to the nerves.
And all of the oompa loompas were the same darn guy! (Deep Roy)
I honest to goodness feel bad for the generation of children who will grow up having this as their Willy Wonka memory.
The story plot changes, which I won't get into here because some readers may still want to see the movie after this negative review, only confused me. The search for the golden ticket felt rushed, singing and dancing was reserved only for the oompa loompas, and the ending made no sense to me.
The scenery was a bit flashier and more fluid, and it's missing the characteristic psychadelic feel of the original, but the factory didn't seem to have the same level of detail-- not as magical of an edible forest, no edible wallpaper, less whizzing and whirring and machinery.
If there is one thing I got out of this film, it was another reminder, and thankfully portrayed in a way much less hokey than in most children's films-- that you could have everything in the world, be a veritable child in a candy store if you will, but if you don't have loved ones to share your wealth and wonderment with, it's not worth anything.
Recommend this product?
While this flick may have slightly fancier wrapping than the first one, even the first bite lets on that it was not made from quality ingredients.
Runtime: 115 minutes
Rating: PG for quirky situations, action and mild language
Original Release Date: July 15, 2005
Also available in IMAX
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