Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 5 making of featurettes. Attack
of the Squirrels. Fantastic Mr Dahl. Becoming an Oompa-Loompa.
DVD Menu Challenges - Oompa-Loompa Dance, The Inventing Machine,
The Bad Nut, Search For the Golden Ticket. DVD-ROM - Charlie and
the Chocolate Factory PC game demo and web links.
THERE are times when Tim Burton's take on Roald Dahl's classic
children's tale resembles one of Willy Wonka's over-sized chocolate
bars a little too closely - in that too much can leave you feeling
But for the most part, the film is a bittersweet crowd-pleaser,
one that stays largely faithful to Dahl's original text, while
containing all the visual flourishes and dark humour we have come
to expect from Burton.
What's more, it features another terrific performance from Johnny
Depp that comes dripping in the actor's own distinct style.
Dahl's story remains timeless, having first appeared as a novel
in 1964 and then inspiring the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory, in 1971.
Part fantasy adventure, part morality tale, the story focuses
on a poor but kind-hearted child named Charlie ( Freddie Highmore,
of Finding Neverland fame), whose family struggles to make ends
meet just a stone's throw from Charlie's chocolate factory.
The family may be down on their luck but they seldom dwell on
their misfortune, with Charlie's loving mum (Helena Bonham Carter)
and recently unemployed dad (Noah Taylor) always there to encourage
him, while both sets of grandparents offer light-hearted bickering
and quirky anecdotes from the communal bed they all share.
Charlie's fortunes change, however, when he wins a world-wide
competition offering five children a guided tour of Willy Wonka's
chocolate factory by the recluse himself if they find a golden
ticket in one of his bars.
Each child is accompanied by one adult, so Charlie agrees to
take his excited grandfather, Joe (David Kelly), since he used
to work in the Wonka factory before it was closed to the public.
Yet while Charlie and Joe eschew good values and decency, the
remaining four children do not - and all remain intent on winning
the grand mystery prize that is also being offered by Wonka at
the end of the tour.
Joining this magical mystery tour, therefore, are Augustus Gloop
(Philip Wiegratz), an overwight German with an insatiable lust
for sweets; Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), a spoiled little rich
girl prone to temper tantrums whenever her father (James Fox)
fails to obey her; Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb) a fiercely
competitive chewing gum record-holder; and Mike Teavee (Jordan
Fry), a destructive computer games freak who thinks he knows more
All meet their comeuppance in some
way, by refusing to abide by the rules of the chocolate factory,
or respect the genius of Charlie's creative energy.
It is during such moments, however, that the film becomes repetitive
before piling on the sentiment for the sugar-coated finale.
Each time a child over-steps the mark, his 'demise' is marked
by a song and dance routine from the Oompa Loompas (all played
by the same actor, Deep Roy), which threatens to disrupt the flow.
While the extended resolution, which comes courtesy of John August's
script, expands on Willy Wonka's back story to reiterate the message
about the importance of family and finds him seeking a reunion
with his candy-hating dentist father (Christopher Lee).
It's almost as though Burton and co wanted to have their chocolate
cake and eat it without a care in the world for the overdose of
A more slim-line Charlie might have worked better, although that's
not to say the film falters badly.
In look and design alone, Charlie resembles the best of Burton's
work and is a visual treat from start to finish (recalling the
Gothic look of Batman and taking in modern pop-art references).
While several of the set pieces - including a section involving
squirrels - are brilliantly quirky and wildly inventive.
The performances, too, are pretty much spot-on, with Highmore
as sensitive and sweet as they come (his chemistry with Depp picking
up where it left off in Neverland), and the likes of Winter, Kelly
and Lee all making the most of their support.
But it is Depp who provides that extra layer of chocolate to
make things so finger-licking good, presenting us with a wonderfully
off-kilter Wonka whose obvious distaste for precocious children
is wonderfully observed and wryly delivered.
Even during the film's most sickly-sweet moments, he manages
to rise above the sentiment to sprinkle his own form of magic
over proceedings, thereby ensuring that Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory provides the golden ticket for families this summer.
Related stories: Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory special feature
Johnny Depp: Read the
Tim Burton: Read the
David Kelly interview
Charlie savours sweet
success at US box office