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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory(1971)
The story of Charlie Bucket, a little boy with no money and a good heart, who dreams wistfully of being able to buy the candy that other children enjoy. Charlie enters into a magical world when he wins one of five "Golden Tickets" to visit the mysterious chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka and run by his capable crew of Oompa-Loompas. Once behind the gates, a cast of characters join Charlie and Grandpa Joe on a journey to discover that a kind heart is a far finer possession than a sweet tooth.
For more about Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray release, see Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 9, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Gene Wilder, Peter Ostrum, Jack Albertson, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone
Director: Mel Stuart
» See full cast & crew
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray Review
"Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 9, 2011
Gene Wilder's indelible Willy Wonka is back, this time in a tempting 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition box set. Fortunately, it isn't a barebones double dip packed with a shiny golden ticket and a few Wonka-themed trinkets. Yes, it repackages the same BD-25 Feature Film disc many fans already own (originally released in Digibook packaging in 2009 and re-released in a standard Blu-ray case in 2010). And yes, there are a few trinkets tucked in the box that will get little to no use. But a bonus disc of additional special features (among them a new interview with director Mel Stuart and an archive featurette with an interview with author Roald Dahl) and a terrific 144-page book makes this one a more enticing re-issue than most. Enticing enough to justify the box set's higher price point? Read on...
For a review of the film, its 1080p/VC-1 encoded video transfer and its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track, see Jeffrey Kauffman's review of the 2009 Digibook release.
Wonka's 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (limited to 100,000 numbered copies) comes packaged in a hefty, oversized purple box (8 h x 11¾ w x 2 d). Inside, a carefully organized three-tier inner box houses the following items, held in place by small, plastic dividers:
All in all, the "Pure Imagination" book and the production correspondence make the 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition as tasty as it is. Of course, not every filmfan is going to pore over a 144-page book, and it's clearly the driving force behind the box set's price point. Don't get me wrong, the additional extras are welcome, but "Pure Imagination" is the one element that should dictate how high the 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition set should be on your Wish List.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Video Quality
From Jeffrey Kauffman's 2009 review: There's no getting around it, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has always been a spectacularly ugly film. It was when it was originally released, something that has continued unabated in its successively "upgraded" home video releases. Full of garish colors, with rather odd looking Technicolor (reds verging on oranges a lot of the time), and an almost videotaped look to what may have been very cheap film stock considering the film's rather paltry budget, my sense is there has never been a lot to work with in Willy's source elements. This new Blu-ray release, encoded via VC-1, does offer some spectacular sharpness, a sharpness that is (no pun intended) a two edged sword. The superior clarity makes the weird patterned black and white room Willy first leads his charges into on their tour of the chocolate factory superbly detailed for the first time, for example, with no hint of moire patterns or aliasing. On the other hand some of the opticals look pretty shoddy, notably the close up of Mrs. Teevee behind her newly shrunk son, as well as the closing green screen shots of Willy's magical elevator (the right side of the elevator virtually disappears in the final shot of it floating into the sky). Color is as odd as it has always looked in this film, with flesh tones all over the map (and that's not including the Oompa Loompas), but saturation is quite pleasing in this transfer. This is certainly the best Willy Wonka has ever looked in any home video format, but it's still not very good. A cheap looking film somehow only looks cheaper in 1080p, sadly.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From Jeffrey Kauffman's 2009 review: I make no bones about loving Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's song score for Willy Wonka. Who could have foreseen Sammy Davis would have a completely unexpected Top 10 hit with "Candy Man" at a time when his career was pretty much Vegas camp? The rest of the score is similarly imaginative and melodic, and it's therefore a shame that the Dolby True HD 5.1 mix reveals some damage in the mid to low range which is especially egregious in the sung moments. You'll hear something akin to low level distortion in these frequencies, more obvious in "Candy Man" than "Pure Imagination," for example, but noticeable nonetheless throughout the sung segments. I almost wonder if the vocal stems were archived separately from the orchestral, because the orchestral music per se sounds excellent, with the True HD track revealing lots of color I hadn't heard before in Walter Scharf's fun orchestrations. Fun little things like the glockenspiel in the opening credits sequence pop now with a clarity that they simply didn't have in previous home video incarnations. The rest of the 5.1 mix has several fun immersive moments, mostly in the over the top sound effects that accompany Willy's crazy contraptions. Directionality in dialogue is not especially overwhelming, but is subtly present. If you're in the mood for some unusual fun, toggle through the foreign language soundtracks (and there are several). I was surprised to hear that some of them kept the original English language singing, but others had the songs in their respective languages.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Four down, one to go, and somewhere out there a lucky person is moving closer and closer to the most sought after prize in history. Though we cannot help but envy whoever he is, and we may feel bitter, we must remember there are more important things. Many more important things. Though offhand I cannot think of what they are. But I'm sure there must be something!
Unfortunately, the box set's exclusive bonus content amounts to a pair of special features that clock in at less than thirty minutes: a newly produced interview with Mel Stuart (and other surprise guests) and a rediscovered archival featurette. The bulk of the extras -- a cast audio commentary, a production documentary, four sing-along songs and a vintage featurette from 1971 -- already appeared on the 2009 Blu-ray release and its 2010 re-issue. The only other disappointment worth noting? All of the supplements are presented in standard definition. Obviously, those who don't own a Blu-ray copy of Willy Wonka will have far more to explore than those who purchased one of the previous single-disc editions, while those who do own a copy may find the 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition box set doesn't boast enough new content to justify the cost of admission. Again, it really comes down to how much you're willing to pay for the set's 144-page book; the one addition that will make this box set delectable to diehard Willy Wonka fans.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A box set's pricepoint is crucial. Whether or not the 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition release of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory justifies consideration comes down to just one question: how much is an excellent 144-page production book, the previous Blu-ray release of the film, a bonus DVD with two exclusive featurettes, and several other pack-ins worth in your mind? If you're a diehard Wonka zealot with disposable income to spare, the choice will be simple. If, however, you have affection for the film but don't really care about a book, a few box set goodies and two featurettes you won't find anywhere else, you'd be better served by the 2009 Digibook release or the 2010 standard-case re-issue. Ultimately, those armed with appropriate expectations will enjoy everything Warner's box set has in store.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Other Editions
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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Fact... - January 8, 2012
Amazon's Blu-ray Deal of the Week affects the 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. This deluxe boxset features the beloved adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory alongside a wide assortment ...
• Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary Ultimate Col... - August 6, 2011
Warner's upcoming October release of the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com. The Box Set loaded with goodies has a price of $45.49
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