Burton's Chocolate Feast
When the name Tim Burton is attached to any movie the first expectation is for a visual extravaganza, the second is the slightly abstract viewpoint, the dark yet quirky world which many of Burton's movies resides in. His interpretation of Roald Dahl's classic tale "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" from 2005 is no exception delivering that extremely quirky and visual delight you would expect. But before we get into how good or bad "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is, it has to be said that firstly it's not a remake of the ever popular Gene Wilder movie "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" but a different take on the novel and so whilst sharing the same storyline they are vastly different although making comparisons is hard to resist.
After years of being a complete recluse, Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland) shocks the world when he decides to let 5 children, who discover his golden tickets concealed in his chocolate bars, into his factory for a personal tour. Pandemonium ensues as the clamour for Wonka bars reaches fever pitch as everyone wants to find one of the elusive tickets. But as the tickets are slowly discovered, one is discovered by Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore - A Good Year) who along with his Grandpa Joe (David Kelly - Waking Ned) join the rest of the lucky winners to enter Wonka's wonderful chocolate factory, but not everything is as it seems.
The first thing to hit you is that "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is an extremely visual movie, with the wonderful opening credits taking you on a journey of chocolate making, CGI yes but still wonderfully creative. It has to be said that Tim Burton has a wonderful, even child like imagination and it is that which makes "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" such a wonderful visual journey. It is relentless in delivering something which catches your eye, be it Willy Wonka's striking red hair against his pale complexion, or the vibrant scenes inside the chocolate factory.
But then you have the story and whilst the familiar storyline is still apparent, Burton has taken it off on tangents delving in to Willy Wonka's back story such as his childhood, his discovery off the Oompa Loompas and so on. At times it has a rather strange darkness to it with not so much sinister back stories but ones which border on the grim, but these are counter balanced by various lighter moments even inspired fantasy moments such as chocolate birds hatching from eggs. There is certainly a lot of cleverness to all this and because I've never read the book it maybe that Burton has followed the original tale more closely than the ever popular predecessor. Which ever it makes for a very different movie to the original, more interested in creating story snippets that combine into one glorious tale.
One of the big differences between Tim Burton's version and the original that this time round it's not a musical. There are some musical pieces but they are minimal and actually help to make it feel less of a remake rather than a new version attempting to stand out rather than just a copycat remake.
But whilst Tom Burton's version is quirky, occasionally sinister yet often visually vibrant tale it suffers for one reason, the pivotal characters are not memorable. Okay, that statement is a bit wrong as Johnny Depp's take on Willy Wonka is very memorable, partly because he looks slightly strange with his big goggles, red hair, burgundy ensemble and his pasty complexion. But it's not just the way Depp looks but the strange mixed up character he creates is memorable covering the quirky, the humorous and the sinister all in one character.
But take Depp out of the equation and the rest of the characters and those who perform them are pretty unmemorable. Freddie Highmore who delivers quite a nice take on Charlie Bucket lacks that presence and performance to make him memorable as does David Kelly who plays Grandpa Joe two characters which really should stick in your mind. It's rather strange really as there are some well known names and faces on show such as Helena Bonham Carter, James Fox, Christopher Lee and even Noah Taylor but none of them are overly memorable making this version feel like it's all about Willy Wonka giving the knock on effect of making it feel all about Johnny Depp.
What this all boils down to is that Tim Burton's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" is not a bad movie, often criticized because it is too often wrongly directly compared to the original starring the wonderful Gene Wilder, which to be frank it shouldn't be, it's a new take on Roald Dahl's popular story. Taking it as a new version it is very good delivering all those aspects of Tim Burton's movies you would expect from the slight sinister, the gloriously visual as well as the quirky humour which it has to be said is not everyone's cup of tea. Whilst there is much which is good about it, indeed the various story tangents are clever additions; it has it's issues such as the unmemorable characters except for the marvellous creation from Johnny Depp.
If I had to chose which is my favourite version of Roald Dahl's novel then it is the original because I grew up on it and it's a fond part of my childhood with its catchy tunes and memorable performances. But that doesn't detract from Burton's different take on the popular story.