Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Given his work in "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman,"
and "Sleepy Hollow," Burton has a visual acuity
for mythic proportions. This is even more apparent
when his movies are projected on the 60-foot IMAX
screen. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" opened
to good box office during a non holiday weekend, but
to really absorb Roald Dahl's world, the best seat in
the house to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
is at an IMAX Theatre.
Frank L. Baum, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl
(and recently J.K. Rowling) have been successful with
the literate youth market for many reasons. These
authors develop narratives, interesting characters and
creative ideas that comment on the nature of humanity.
These stories endure year after year because these
authors write directly to the individual, and not talk
down to their respective audience as rubes. Each one
of these authors are frequently categorized for being
subversive by critics who frequently do not read books
like "The Wizard of Oz," "The Hobbit," "The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Charlie and
the Chocolate Factory."
Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) lives in poverty
with his loving parents (Helena Bonham Carter and Noah
Taylor) and four bedridden grandparents. Elusive
chocolate mogul Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp) announces a
contest in which five lucky individuals can take a
tour of his chocolate factory and win a mysterious
The contest takes the world by storm and the five
lucky winners are Violet Beaugarde (Annasophia Robb),
Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz ), Veruca Salt (Julia
Winter), Mike Teevee (Jordan Fry) and, of course,
Charlie Bucket. Suffice to say, four out of five of
these children are brats. Little do these winners
know, Willie Wonka is an emotionally handicapped
individual with a secret agenda.
While not in Roald Dahl's book, Tim Burton and
screenwriter John August have added a subplot
explaining the origin of Willie Wonka’s weirdness. We
learn that Willie Wonka's passion for chocolate grew
from his conflict with his father, the dentist, Dr.
Wilbur Wonka (Christopher Lee). This additional
storyline provides the superficial story a satisfying
Tim Burton does a remarkable job with the film's
shifts of tone. As the bratty children receive their
comeuppance, the violence is diabolical and macabre.
Shortly after each nightmarish action, Burton manages
to create moments of pure joy as the Ooompa Loompas
(Thousands of little people who are all played by one
actor, Deep Roy) burst into song. With lyrics by
Roald Dahl and orchestrated by Danny Elfman, these
songs sound both new and retro. Unlike the original
motion picture, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory," which left the fate of the children open
ended; this movie humorously reveals the fate of the
four bratty children.
Given his fifth collaboration with Tim Burton, Johnny
Depp makes Willie Wonka a composite of Gene Wilder and
Michael Jackson. Depp's costar from "Finding
Neverland," (Freddie Highmore) underplays the role
and speaks with conviction during the film's corny
family scenes. As Charlie's most active Grandpa Joe
(David Kelly) proves that fairy tales can come true if
you remain young at heart.
Last, but not least, there is 83 year old Christopher
Lee as Willie Wonka's father. This veteran of over
250 motion pictures, the actor utilizes his baritone
voice to make words like "Caramel" and "Chocolate"
both seductive and disgusting at the same time. This
actor has a role in the last **Star Wars** movie, but
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is Christopher
Lee's best motion picture this cinematic summer of