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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(2005)
An eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka, long isolated from his own family, Wonka launches a worldwide contest to select an heir to his candy empire. Five lucky children, including Charlie, a good-hearted boy from a poor family who lives in the shadow of Wonka's extraordinary factory, draw golden tickets from Wonka chocolate bars and win a guided tour of the legendary candy-making facility that no outsider has seen in 15 years. Dazzled by one amazing sight after another, Charlie is drawn into Wonka's fantastic world in this astonishing and enduring story.
For more about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray release, see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on October 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Geoffrey Holder, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor
Director: Tim Burton
» See full cast & crew
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray Review
Tim Burton's chewy candy center
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, October 5, 2011
It was once a place for pure imagination. Now, under Tim Burton's care, it's a madhouse again.
Willy Wonka's (Johnny Depp) headline-seizing plan to spruce up his chocolate business is to plant five golden tickets randomly inside his signature bars, inviting the lucky winners to an exclusive tour of his vast candy factory. For poor Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore, "Finding Neverland"), chances of securing a ticket are slim, but luck is soon on his side; joining spoiled Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), competitive Violent Beauregard (Annasophia Robb), perpetually consuming Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), and violent Mike Teavee (Jordon Fry), Charlie meets Wonka, the reclusive, eccentric fellow behind the delicious, yet highly mysterious treats of the factory. As the tour commences, weird things start happening to the selfish, misbehaving children, leaving Charlie alone to deal with Wonka's bizarre behavior, eventually tasked to help the mad genius sort out his own father issues.
If not exactly a classic film, Mel Stuart's 1971 fantasy creation, "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," has stood the test of time with its tender realization of childhood sugar-high fantasies and morbid, goofball humor. With Gene Wilder at the helm of the considerable steerage of oddities, the loose Roald Dahl adaptation has aged as a major peculiarity from the generally peculiar 1970s, yet, at the same time, has remained wonderful. Over 30 years later, noted quirkmeister Tim Burton has taken up the challenge to bring the book (with the true "Charlie" title) to the screen again, and he's out to claim the definitive cinema version for himself.
Taking time to compare the two productions is a fruitless quest. The Stuart film was fashioned in a sincere era of musicals, practical effects, and gee-whiz kid acting. Burton's effort exists in a more cynical time, guided by a more sarcastic filmmaker. Opening with the familiar choral sounds of a Danny Elfman score backing the creation, by cold steel machines, of the Wonka bars, the tone is clearly set: this is no candy shop, and the candy man can't. Burton has more in store for his audience than simple sweets and soft-shoe.
With a rapturous and meticulous production design, a tongue firmly planted in cheek, and the appearance of Christopher Lee as Willy's disapproving dentist dad, this is a Burton film through and through. That being established, "Charlie" is a chilly affair, more concerned with technical prowess than a gushing heart or smoothly connected plot. For the most part, this change in focus is appetizing, for Burton's take on Willy's chocolate factory is a marvel, packed with infinite candy rooms, one staffed by nut-detecting squirrels; highlighting the singing, dancing, cocoa-bean worshiping Oompa Loompas (all played by movie MVP, Deep Roy, "The Neverending Story"); and offering a legitimate taste of danger as the kids test the boundaries of Wonka's patience. While a good portion of the movie is sweetened with colorful CGI, Burton still palms the primal magic of Wonka's wonderland with his broad, idiosyncratic visuals. The fantastical depth and semi-sinister verve he gives the factory is almost perfect.
Almost perfect can also be written of Johnny Depp, who steps out of the mile-long shadow of Gene Wilder to fashion his own twisted take on Willy. Since the tonal aim for "Charlie" isn't pointed at the heart, Depp's Wonka is rendered a strange, pale fellow who hates parents, is easily annoyed by children, and appears to be a germaphobe. Not exactly the winking teddy bear Wilder went after in his legendary performance, but Depp's oddball acting fits heavenly with Burton's vision, and the two team up yet again for another stimulating, wildly outrageous collaboration.
However, with Depp and the special effects taking the lead, poor little Charlie isn't left with much to do. Freddie Highmore is an inspired choice for the unlikely Golden Ticket winner, and his English puppy dog demeanor does the film a world of good in the emotion department. Nevertheless, Burton keeps Charlie at arm's length for the entire film, along with the other young actors (who aren't nearly as interesting or natural as Highmore), leaving unfair comparisons to the broad but endearing acting work from the original incarnation to linger in the senses.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Video Quality
The VC-1 encoded image (1.78:1 aspect ratio) presentation brings about some mild confusion. It's important to understand the picture's soft look and artificial touches, which leave many of the younger characters and Wonka himself with a decidedly smooth appearance, looking at times like a DNR botch job. The deliberate "waxiness" can be deceiving. Details are acceptable throughout the feature, with terrific depth to the image, also offering great goopy particulars on the candy encounters. Human textures also register adequately, at least those outside of the cartoony airbrushed look, with reactions easily read, along with differences in age (there's wonderful facial character with the older actors) and make-up intensity. The visual effects also sustain their impact, with fine hair detail on the squirrels, along with subtle design changes within the team of Oompa-Loompas. Skintones are accelerated and varied, but feel appropriate. Clarity is good, offering a full sense of the image, with colors holding strongly, turning explosive during the factory visit, with all sorts of bold hues selling the intensity of the fantasy and the sweets superbly, leading with striking reds and purples. There doesn't appear to be any radical reduction applied to the image, with Burton's usual visual mischief more detectable on Blu-ray.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 5.1 DolbyTrueHD sound mix carries the film's heavy fantasy workload quite well, starting with a natural, full feel for dialogue exchanges, which keep primarily frontal, opening up for group encounters, also gifted a nice echoed quality once inside various areas of the factory. Accents and verbal comedy are solid, without distortion. Directional activity is exceptional, from the chocolate-making robotics of opening titles to the frantic antics inside the factory rooms, offering a careful handle on supporting character movement and background bustle. Atmospherics are generous, with wintry exteriors supplying crunch and chill, while Oompa-Loompa interaction is offered some faint vigor while the tour commences. Speaking of the creatures, their musical numbers are the star of the show, widening the soundscape with a blast of crisp instruments and odd, but direct vocals, also triggering considerable low-end. The soundtrack sounds big, while scoring is more subdued, holding steady in the surrounds until directed to accentuate the moment.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" corrects many mistakes found in the Stuart film (the Oompas aren't creepily orange and green anymore, and the helmer has mercifully done away with the infamously bizarre, psychedelic boat trip sequence), along with raising the visual stakes for the more outlandish tangents of the story that needed it. Burton has created a genuinely amusing movie for the entire family, blessed with a zippy run time and extended narrative stay. Those tired of the Wilder warmth often associated with this ominous tale will rejoice over this icy stab at detailing Wonka's outrageous, mind-altering tour.
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray - June 27, 2011
From Tim Burton (Batman) and Warner Home Entertainment comes the Blu-ray of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this fall. Burton's 2005 reimagining of Roald Dahl's classic novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stars Freddie Highmore (August Rush) as Charlie ...
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