Read Part 1 of this movie review (Behind-the-scene Insights)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory proves that the great director-actor tandem of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is still as remarkable as with their past films as Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, and the list goes on and on. They are known for effectively making quirky characters and bizaare looks in such an orchestrated dimension.
Depp as the new Willy Wonka (after Gene Wilder portraying the role during the 1971 movie by Mel Stuart retitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), the world’s famous chocolate genius, gives such an engaging performance. Obviously, he proves that he has that distinct look and that great charm on portraying troubled personas. And for those who haven’t really read Dahl’s book or watched the earlier version of the film from more than three decades ago, who would expect that the ‘perfect teeth’ talks about the back story and the irony to be seen in the film?
After getting rid of his workers and closing his factory to the public because of spies stealing his hard-earned recipes for his chocolates and sweets, he reopens the huge iron gates of his snow fortress-looking factory to five lucky children who find the five golden tickets hidden in five Wonka chocolate bars. The tour to the mysterious and legendary factory makes such a sweet treat to the kids, to their parents as chaperones and to the audience. Time to crave for some chocolates… sculpted sweets, candy-looking boat, gelatins, lollipops and the chocolate falls and the thick, yummy river… and more and more sweets!
Charlie’s character has that classic fairy tale profile. Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is a kind-hearted poor boy brought up with good manners and simple family virtues. He lives an underprivileged life and yearns for something that seems to be out of reach – getting that golden ticket to enter Willy Wonka’s great factory. He is indeed a lucky boy to get the final golden ticket alongside four other not-so-good kids: the gluttonous piggy-boy Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), the spoiled rich girl Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), the gum-chewing and competition crazy Violet Beauregarde (Anna Sophia Robb) and the violent TV addict Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry).
From Wonka’s back story comes his affinity with candies and chocolates and his relationship with his sinister-looking father (Christopher Lee), a dentist who has fitted him with a weirdlooking, nightmare braces and forbids the young Wonka from eating any sweets. He gets a childhood trauma from his father early on. Since then, he leaves their Wonka residence to fulfill his passion. He shuts down his social circle to be the most famous chocolate-maker of the world. The downside of this: he becomes uncomfortable with that unfamiliar human contact which becomes very apparent with his interaction with the golden ticket holders and their parents. The cracked genius Wonka also thinks he is cool and really great in his fashion sense. But it turns out that his whitest skin merely untouched by sunlight (because of being locked away inside his factory for such a long time) and the outdated slang he uses are the results of a crafty but naïve, confused, and arbitrary adult Wonka who has never interacted outside his factory for the longest time. Flashbacks of his tormented childhood validate his character – quite bitchy, tricky and quirky with his young, despicable guests.
It’s just a little questionable why Christopher Lee has not changed much after some decades of living away from Willy. Willy has definitely grown up from that boy with nightmare braces. But with his dad, he is the same guy wearing those dentist clothes – take note of the hair, the built, the moves… nothing has changed much really. The only observable difference is seen with the dentist Wonka’s house filled with all the write-ups about his son’s success as the great chocolate genius. There are also some minor inconsistencies with Willy using his cue cards throughout the film. It could have been utilized as something more significant in the story. It seems like it has lost touch with the story especially midway to end. It could have been nicer if it has been used more playfully and creatively.
This movie is a prime moving story about family and fulfillment of dreams seen in a whimsical world for us to enjoy. Every bit of it. Get a load of a psychedelic, twisted, dark and yet colorful, scrumptious sweet saccharine confectionery with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This film is highly recommended.