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tim buron

From the moment Charlie and the Chocolate Factory begins you can see Tim Burton’s influence in both direction and visual style. The sly humor he manages to portray in the opening credits is only a prelude to what is to come as Charlie becomes his finest work since the original Batman in 1989.

That’s not to say every Burton movie since then hasn’t been good, but none have been this good.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the story of Charlie Bucket, a simple minded youngster living with his parents and grandparents in a sideways tilted house in the center of a town featuring the smokestacks of Willy Wonka’s candy factory. After the factory closed down years earlier because of greedy competitors stealing Wonka’s ideas, many are surprised to see smoke once again rising from those chimneys and Wonka virtually disappear. Now, the candy aficionado announces that five children will be invited to visit the factory with a grand prize awaiting one of them. The children, along with one adult, arrive at the factory, and the fun begins.

The story itself is based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. With some creative licensing here and there, from the parts I’m familiar with, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains true to the source material, with some added modernism thrown in for good measure.

What really stands out is Johnny Depp’s performance as Willy Wonka, a truly disturbed, almost homicidal character who presents himself, and his factory, in a visual style we could only contribute to Burton.

Upon first laying eyes on the factory, with is chocolate cascading waterfall and edible grass, you’re left with a sense of awe. Whereas the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, didn’t have the aid of computer generated effects, Burton’s take almost over uses in some cases. Most of the time, however, the CGI is a great compliment to the story.

Aside from the CG, the film itself is masterfully put together and edited into a fast paced, eye-candy laced joy ride featuring an inventive story and great music. Unlike the original 1971 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not a musical. Aside from the Oompa Loompas (Deep Roy) singing after each child has his or her mishap, the entire film is dialog dependant thankfully sparing us from the Disney influenced subculture we’ve brought upon ourselves.

Getting back to Depp as Wonka, the performance is among his best, especially with the added subplot relating to his candy-forbidding father (Christopher Lee). The arrogance displayed by the character, makes him all the more convincing and funny. In one scene Veruca Salt’s father hands Wonka a business card to which he flings over his shoulder without skipping a beat. It is definitely one of the funniest parts of the film.

On the humor front, there are several scenes where you could hear cricket’s chirp aside from out small group laughing. Being a PG movie, there were quite a few children, therefore it was assumed many of the younger patrons wouldn’t get the jokes, but most of the parents didn’t get them either. I guess they were meant for that early-twentysomething sweet spot we seem to fall into.

Having never read the book or seen the original film completely through I can honestly say that Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is by far the best adaptation, and the most fun. The tremendous boost given to the film with Burton’s unique style and the star power of Depp and up-and-comer Freddie Highmore certainly come together to create a memorable children’s movie that can be equally enjoyed by adults.