Published Aug 01, 2005Tim Burton's remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is really fun, showcasing the director's wonderful visual style and featuring Johnny Depp at his bizarro best as Willy Wonka.
Starting off faithful to Roald Dahl's book, the film introduces us to the Bucket family, who are poor but happy living in the shadow of Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory. When Wonka announces a contest to allow five children access to the factory, little Charlie Bucket is determined to win, despite his allowance of one chocolate bar per year. Against all odds, Charlie manages to find himself a coveted Gold Ticket and joins the other winners (all greedy, spoiled, nasty kids) for the tour of the incredible factory.
This film strays from the book in its addition of a back story for Wonka, fleshing out his character and removing some of the mystery surrounding him. Depp plays him as tortured and occasionally hostile, with the right amount of social awkwardness for someone who's been away from human contact for years. We find out through a series of flashbacks about Wonka's dysfunctional childhood with his dentist father (Christopher Lee), an unnecessary addition but it's handled well enough to be entertaining.
Tim Burton is at his best when blending the creepy and the fantastical, particularly shining during the musical sequences of the film. The acting is great across the board, with Depp stealing the show as always and all the child actors holding their own, especially Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) as Charlie.
It's a wonderful story, and the film's creative team tells it well, though I question the decision to alter the ending to give it more of a palatable message of family values. The message of the source material is clear enough - nasty children get punished - and way more fun to watch. (Warner)