Review by: Matt Brighton
Posted on: January 28th, 2012
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Plot: What’s it about?

It’s not hard to associate things with Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory when you hear such things as “Umpa, umpa, umpadee oom…” (There’s probably a spelling error in there), but one thing that this campy movie did do was make our imaginations run wild. The movie was a little before my time, but I can vividly remember seeing it and having it make a lasting impression on me. I mean, how many movies have people drinking cola and flying up to the ceiling, girls turning into giant blueberries and people getting sucked into the undertoe of a chocolate river? Not many that I can think of…Based on Roald Dahl’s book of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, this is the movie adaptation of his work of art. It goes a bit like this…

Wonka brand products have been the leading seller for some time. Their candy bars are favorites among kids and almost everything with the Wonka name means that it’s good to eat. But Wonka (Gene Wilder) has started a promotion. Wrapped inside five of the Wonka bars are five “Golden Tickets”. A golden ticket gets you and a loved one inside the Wonka plant for a tour by the man himself. Naturally, there is a high demand for such a thing and the story concentrates on how five kids get their tickets and what happens to them inside the factory. The kids couldn’t be more diverse, one is a spoiled brat who gets her ticket by literally buying all the bars she can and hires a group of people to unwrap chocolate bars until they uncover a golden ticket. But the story really revolves around Charlie. Charlie is the boy who we like. He’s nice, generous and caring. So we all naturally root for him when he uncovers the last golden ticket. The other kids have all received their tickets, so it’s off to the factory they go.

The rest of the movie deals with the kids and their “guests” as they tour the factory, encountering “treasures” which actually masquerade as “dangers” and what is it that Wonka is actually up to? Why would he give such a tour after all of this time? Is he seeking a replacement for the CEO of Wonkaville? That’s part of the fun of watching Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. While the movie is dated physically, it’s been a classic for years and will most likely be a classic for years to come. Tim Burton, a long-time fan of author Dahl, remade this movie in 2005 entitled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with ever present actor Johnny Depp taking the helm. While good in its own right, there’s really no substitute for this classic.

Video: How does it look?

There was some controversy back in 2001 when this film came to DVD as a “Special Edition” in a full-frame format. Well, time has healed all wounds and we now have a Blu-ray version that looks about as good as it can. Colors seem to leap off the screen in Wonkaville with vibrant reds and oranges, emerald greens and even Violet’s dress seems a bit more lively. This 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer really brings out the best this film has to offer and though not perfect, it’s pretty close. This is obviously a mainstay in Warner’s catalog and to their credit, they’ve delivered. I caught just the slightest bit of dirt on the print, but considering this film is coming up on 40 years old – I’ll let it slide. Suffice it to say that if you want to see “Willy Wonka” in all its HD glory, you’ve come to the right place.

Audio: How does it sound?

Warner has given “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” a brand new uncompressed HD audio track as well. This Dolby TrueHD soundtrack won’t exactly shake the room, but it does have enough “oomph” (or maybe I should have said “Oompa”) to warrant some attention. This film came out on HD DVD and sported a Dolby Digital Plus track, but there’s a lot more presence with this track. The songs sound a bit more rich and full and even the surrounds seem a bit more active as well. Again, this isn’t a movie that will be used for demonstration material, but it’s hard to imagine the film sounding much better than this.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As previously mentioned, this is the 40th Anniversary of this movie and Warner has given it the “Digi Book” experience. The same supplements are still intact. Most of the talking is done by Veruca Salt and as the kids meet their “fates” throughout the movie, we hear less and less of those others. I mean who would want to talk if they’re not on screen? Still, it’s interesting to hear the experiences and I just wish they would stop making fun of Gene Wilder’s hair. The guy is a comic genius for cryin’ out loud! Some sing along songs are also included, but if you watched the movie, then odds are that you’re already sick of the “Oompa Loompa” song, so I made my stop there brief. Finally “Pure Imagination: The making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is your rather standard EPK with some archived footage and some behind the scenes stills as well as the jump from book to screen. The original 1971 featurette of a behind the scenes is also included as is the original theatrical trailer. There’s also a 38 page book with some production stills, cast and crew bios and plenty of tidbits about the production of the movie. If you’re a fan of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” there’s no reason for this not to be in your collection.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Blu-ray)
Mel Stuart
100 min.

  • (1.85:1)
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Audio: Dolby TrueHD
  • 1 Disc Set
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy