Monday, April 17, 2006

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Part cute, part "Twilight Zone" eerie.

Genre: Comedy Adventure Family Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean; "21 Jump Street"), Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland)

Directed By: Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands; Corpse Bride)

Overview: When Willy Wonka, the world's greatest chocolatier, holds a contest to open the doors of his factory to five lucky winners, the young Charlie finds that his dreams might just come true.

Acting: After having seen the friendly yet odd Wonka in the 1971 original, Tim Burton really stepped it up a notch with Depp, who is often downright creepy. It's obvious that Willy in this one has been thrust beyond the realm of normal quirky and deep into 'psychotic delusions of grandeur'. Some psychos can pull it off. Willy's one of em. A nice twist, definitely.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: If you know anything about Burton, it's that he's Goth, Goth and more Goth. Just enough of his cool style shows through here for Burton fans, while still being 'family' enough without being too scary for the kiddies. Of course this is a visual spectacle, that's to be expected, but the Oompa-Loompas are actually quite... odd... cute but not. It's like eating squid. You know it's cool, you're hip because it's sushi... but after everything, you're still just chewing wet tentacle.
Rating: 9

Script: "Little girl, don't touch that squirrel's nuts!"

You who are planning on seeing another take of the friendly Wonka will find yourselves in for a surprise. It seems this Wonka actually quite detests children, and most of what he says to them is a jab, a slight or an outright insult. As for all the mean little contest winners and their parents, pretty fun all round, but I was still hoping for a more poetic delivery.
Rating: 8

Plot: This film is a pretty accurate remake of the 1971 version. The 'Tribute or Rip-off' debate is better done with Gus Van Sant's Psycho, but I'll tell you that while I was watching, I just kept comparing. When Tim did the new Planet of the Apes, it was drastically different, but of course the screenplay wasn't a novel. As stories go, it's really original. As remakes go, it's so-so.
Rating: 7

Mood: Well Burton's always been Mr. Atmosphere in my books, and no different here. He's the kind of director whose vision is most important, and the vision is quite bright. Best of all is the constant subtext and commentary. The obese, the spoiled rich kid, the TV addict, and the competitive go-getter, though all from different parts of the world originally, are perfectly translated to stab at the modern American condition. What a sly artist you are, and not too subtle either, nice touch.
Rating: 9

"Look Grampa, I found bark to eat!" (He's poor, cut him some slack)

Overall Rating: 82% (Pretty Sweet)

Aftertaste: You know it's a real shame that this is the kind of movie that most people tend to get around to seeing. Cool but common, it's Burton, and as usual it is art, but it's tamer than his usual stuff. It's called mainstream for a reason I keep reminding myself. I enjoyed it, it was a great time, but it's not fantastic by any means. At least it's not some fluff piece.