Charlie And The Chocolate Factory


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Liz Smith as Grandma Georgina with the cast of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
"The Nut Room scene, complete with squirrels, is unreservedly brilliant, a tour de force of electronic wizardry." | Photo: Warner Bros

And so the latest movie remake slides, sugar-frosted, off the production line and into the waiting hands of a viewing public ready to gobble up anything as long as it has a soft centre.

Tim Burton has monkeyed about in this territory before with The Planet Of The Apes, which divided audiences. This will probably do this same.

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Gene Wilder, as the wacky confectioner of the original Seventies adaptation, was the best thing about that particular film, which lacked pace and foundered on the shores of bad child acting. His position is in no danger from Johnny Depp.

You know the drill - or, if you've read the book, you probably think you do. Charlie Bucket is a poor lad, big in heart but low on funds, who lives with his family in the ramshackle part of town. Mind you, despite their abject poverty and unremitting diet of cabbage soup, they still manage to have a colour telly. Really, Tim?

Weird old Willy Wonka, who owns the nearby chocolate factory, hasn't been seen for years until, out of the blue, he announces that he's hidden five golden tickets in his choccie bars, so that five lucky little 'uns can pay him a visit.

Needless to say, in the way of good fairytales, four of the five are no-good brats, while Charlie's light shines out like a beacon in the night.

They head to the factory. And the fun begins.

There are quite a lot of good things about this production, in addition to a series of impressive industrial accidents. The set design, as you would expect from a Burton film, is superlative, with the streets where the Buckets live suitably atmospheric and cold.

The characterisation is good, too - Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry) beautifully evil as the computer game crazed kid, Charlie (Freddie Highmore) believable, yet not-too-sugary, and Grandpa Joe (David Kelly, fighting a little too hard to make sure his Irish accent doesn't escape) equally so as the oldster who never grew up.

Also, the Nut Room scene, complete with squirrels, is unreservedly brilliant, a tour de force of electronic wizardry.

The film falls down with the Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy). That isn't a bad idea, but the Busby Berkeley and rap take on their songs doesn't really work. Roald Dahl's lyrics are lost in a heady rush of candyfloss effects.

However, where the film fails most is with Wonka himself. Depp has passed over weird in favour of downright creepy. He really doesn't feel in keeping with the book at all, as he is quirky without being "fun". Also, the character lacks depth, compared to his previous manifestation, which is odd, because here he has been shackled with an unnecessary back-story that clumsily tries to make excuses for his weirdness. Dad was a dentist. Willie's teeth were wired and... oh, you really don't want to know.

If it weren't for the back-story and Hollywood's need to add that extra bit of sugar coating, this could have been a Fudgemallow Delight of a movie. Instead, its centre is just a bit too squishy.

Reviewed on: 31 Jul 2005
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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory packshot
Extravagant remake of the Roald Dahl story about a boy who wins a Golden Ticket visit to an eccentric millionaire's sweet factory.
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Read more Charlie And The Chocolate Factory reviews:

Kotleta ****
George Williamson ***1/2
Scott Macdonald ***

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: John August, based on the book by Roald Dahl

Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, Adam Godley, Franziska Troegner, Annasophia Robb, Julia Winter, Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz, Blair Dunlop

Year: 2005

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: USA

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