Ah, the remake. It’s standard operating procedure in Hollywood these days. That’s not to say that Tinsel Town can’t churn out a few decent movies a year, but it seems that they’re looking backwards to proceed forwards. That aside, Tim Burton has once again teamed with frequent star Johnny Depp to remake a family classic – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Obviously the title has been changed from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” but the story and characters are all the same. Burton’s dark cinematic view is shown and with the story being just a bit off (and on the dark side), it gave Depp plenty of room to have fun with the eccentric Willy Wonka character. The movie is among the more popular to come around, I’m speaking of the predecessor naturally and with Burton’s own “Batman” being re-made; it was his turn to flip through the Warner catalog and remake something. As it turns out, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was it. Did it work? But better yet, is it entertaining?
The answer to two of the above questions is “Yes” and I highly doubt that Depp will win an Oscar for playing Willy Wonka. Yes, he’s good but he wasn’t that good. For those that are familiar with the story, it hasn’t changed much. Willy Wonka (Depp) has decided to look for an heir to his throne and has placed five golden tickets randomly in his chocolate bars. It’s the biggest news in the world (which begs the question: what world are they living in?) and as the tickets are discovered, they make headlines. The five children are various levels on the “Brat” scale. There’s Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz) whose gluttony is his way of life. Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) is the daughter of a wealthy businessman; she found her ticket because her father bought hundreds of thousands of bars. Mike TeaVee (Jordan Fry) cracked the code in the system and “only needed to buy one bar”. Violet (Annasophia Robb) is a champion gum-chewer and a self-proclaimed winner. This leaves us with Charlie (Freddie Highmore), the poor kid who found some money in the street and used it to buy a chocolate bar thus gaining him entry into the contest. Ok, that aside we know what to expect. Plenty of Burton’s imagination, wacky Oompa Lumpa songs and the search for the next Willy Wonka.
Fans of the original will be very familiar with the storyline; it’s nearly identical to the original, but updated with a more unique flair. I found myself comparing the two versions and though I liked this remake, I think I still prefer the original. Gene Wilder brought certain chemistry to the Wonka role and Depp does as well, though in a different way. Depp is just peculiar enough to pull off a role like this and I’m pleased to say that it does work. I find that I’m running out of things to say here – the Oompas don’t look exactly what they looked like in the original, instead they appear to be clones of one man who portrays several roles in the movie. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will no doubt entertain.
Video: How does it look?
I’m somewhat amazed at the arrival of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Blu-ray. Well, let me rephrase that to mean that I’m amazed that it’s arriving now. The movie was literally one of the first films on the then new HD-DVD format and it’s now nearly six years later before we finally get it on Blu-ray. That said, the movie looked good on HD-DVD and it looks just a better on Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD image utilizes every inch of your HDTV with colors that use every bit of the spectrum. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a visual delight and this movie was well worth the wait. Although the colors abound, there are some scenes that are a bit drab then again they were meant to be. Depp’s character, as depicted on the cover, has a very pale look to him, but the detail is such that you can see the creases in the makeup. Amazing. Why it’s taken this film so long to emerge on Blu-ray is beyond me, but the wait is over and it looks every bit as good as an everlasting gobstopper.
Audio: How does it sound?
As mentioned earlier, the HD-DVD was one of the initial titles on the format and it contained a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. This Blu-ray has been upgraded with a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that Warner doesn’t seem to use any longer. I’m sure it was the more cost effective method rather than opting for a DTS HD Master Audio mix. Still, the improvement is noticeable during the course of the film. There are plenty of songs that make use of all the speakers, Depp’s voice is somewhat unique though his dialogue is crisp and clear throughout. Surrounds are very active during the course of the film and Danny Elfman’s score once again resonates. While not the most robust soundtrack out there, it’s an improvement over the previous offerings (HD-DVD and DVD) and does not disappoint.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In-Movie Experience – I wish Warner still had this feature on some of their discs. It allows the user to watch the movie and the supplements can be viewed as stand-alone titles or intertwined within the film itself. Below is what to expect.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Dreams – Tim Burton’s vision for the film – plus the process of adapting the story with Screenwriter John August.
Different Faces: Different Flavors – Learn about the actors who played each of the movie’s principal characters – from Willy Wonka to Augustus Gloop.
Designer Chocolate – Explore the movie’s ambitious and colorful production design.
Under the Wrapper – Discover the fascinating array of special and visual effaces used to bring Wonka’s factory to the screen.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Sweet Sounds – Learn how Composer Danny Elfman created at of the Oompa-Loompa songs.
Becoming Oompa-Loompa – How did they ever turn one man into hundreds of Oompa-Loompas?
Attack of the Squirrels – A look at how the squirrels were trained.
Fantastic Mr. Dahl – Learn more about the life of the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Pre-Vis Augustus Gloop Dance – Previsulization of the Augustus Gloop dance.
Pre-Vis Mike Teavee Dance – Previsulization of the Mike Teavee dance.
Audio Commentary – Director Tim Burton does offer up a pretty interesting commentary track, though if watched in the “In-Movie Experience” you can watch Burton on screen as he remarks about his film.
Collectible Booklet – The only new addition to this 10th Anniversary Edition is a booklet with some colorful production photos. Oh there’s also a one sheet “A Personal Message from Tim Burton” complete with him sitting by a squirrel.
The Bottom Line
There’s no substitute for the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Tim Burton’s adaptation with Depp is good, no doubt, but the disc was pretty good before. It’s now 2015 and we’ve got the exact same disc touted as an Anniversary Edition. If you don’t own this disc, I’m willing to bet that the addition of a collectible booklet won’t change your mind. This is blatant attempt by Warner to sell what’s already been sold.