Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Tim Burton
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Charlie (Freddie Highmore) is a poor kid who lives in a small house with his parents (Noah Taylor and Helena Bonham Carter) and his grandparents (David Kelly, David Morris, Eileen Essell and Liz Smith). He has always been intrigued by the huge chocolate factory at the end of the block, so when its owner, Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp), sends a message saying that the kids who find five golden tickets hidden in five different chocolates will have the opportunity to attend a tour inside the factory along with a guardian, he dreams of being one of them. Soon the winning kids start appearing all over the world: fatty Augustus Loop (Philip Wiegratz), spoiled Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), competitive Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb) and know-it-all Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry). But Charlie gets his wish granted, as he finds the fifth ticket. A day in the factory that would change it all...
The movie starts with a bang. I can honestly say that the first half hour is just perfect. If I had to rate that part I would give it four stars without thinking about it. The way we are introduced to Charlie and his family is priceless; the narration is spot-on; the scenes around the world show everything we need to know about each character in very little time; and the sheer lack of cynicism in the character of Charlie was enough to water my eyes more than once. In a nutshell, it is the perfect introduction.
And then comes WonkaÖ The movie shifts 180 degrees and becomes something else entirely: a bizarre tour-de-force inside a magical world. The rest of the movie is entirely disturbing, endlessly fascinating, and continuously enchanting, all at the same time. It is such a mixture of moods and set-pieces that you can just tell that Burton and Dahl were meant to join forces. I hear the movie is pretty faithful to the book it is based upon, and I can only say hooray for that, because both the source material and its adaptation are wondrous entertainment. Sure, the movie drags at times, but thereís always something around the corner to make up for it even if this or that set piece does not work that well (didnít much like the laboratory and TV room sequences).
The movie is aimed at all ages, but Dahl intended it as a childrenís story. Iím not quite sure if the movie is really that suitable for kids. It is too edgy and weird for them, but I guess that so much imagination must be wonderful for their minds, and that distressing bits might go over their heads. Then again, what do I know? I had a great time with it and thought the movie was fantastic.
While inside the factory, Wonka starts to get rid of each kid as they show some rather questionable behavior. The way he disposes of them is shocking to say the least (I was genuinely scared by the sequence involving Veruca), but the mood is always lightened by the Oompa Loompas (which are all played by Deep Roy), who manage the factory and burst into funny sing-and-dance numbers in which they cruelly describe the kid in question, with lyrics taken directly from the book and music composed by Danny Elfman. In that respect, even when delivered in strange ways, the movie has a positive message for kids, one that is highlighted even more as the movie approaches its end and Charlie, predictably, takes center stage.
And in the middle of all the mayhem and madness, thereís an intriguing character by the name of Willy Wonka that never ceases to surprise. People are too busy trying to find similarities between Johnny Deppís performance and certain real-life individuals that they forget to look closer and realize what a rich, fascinating character Wonka is. He grew up with a dentist father (Christopher Lee) who always limited him and didnít let him be. He then secluded himself inside the factory, which shows in the way he has zero abilities to treat people, to talk to children and to just plain be ďnormalĒ. He hates the concept of family and can only think about the genius of his creations. It is a sad characterÖ sad, sad, sad. Yet he has been able to find his place and never come out of his shell. Until now, that is, and that day is as strong a life-changing experience as it is for every kid.
Johnny Depp is superb. He embodies his character with pizzazz to the point where we forget itís him and only see the character in all its weirdness and peculiarities. Freddy Highmore is equally mesmerizing as Charlie. Iíd call it perfect casting. And I also got a kick out of David Kelly as Grandpa Joe. The whole cast is uniformly good. It will also be difficult to forget Missy Pileís Mrs. Beauregarde... whoa!
Thereís even a great 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) homage thrown in there for good measure!
Iíd say it is a fractured fairy tale... one that is created by genius minds and a team that works like wonders. The clever direction, the over-produced set designs, the haunting music, the excessive make-up, the imaginative costumes and the beautiful photography all blend together seamlessly, as it does only in dreams.
I love weirdness!
ďEverything in this room is eatable. In fact, I'm eatable. But that, my dear children, is called cannibalism, which is in fact frowned upon in most societies.Ē
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