Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly
Director: Tim Burton
Running Time: 115 mins
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is an American film, based on the book by Roald Dahl, about a young boy who finds a rare golden ticket in a chocolate bar, and wins the trip of a lifetime to the eccentric Mr. Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
This film is full of ambition; it tries really hard to be different from the 1971 film by creating a different atmosphere, changing parts of the plot, and telling somewhat of a different story. However, none of that actually works, and it all ends up as quite a boring, unexciting and simply weird film to watch, full of failed comedy, horrible visuals, terrible songs and a really off-par performance from Johnny Depp.
I’ll start with what I thought was one of the biggest problems with this film: how it all looked. If you remember back to the original, the chocolate factory really felt like ‘a world of pure imagination’, full of vibrant colours and exciting worlds within that left you awestruck by everything you saw.
And whilst there’s no doubt that Tim Burton tries to create a vibrant, atmospheric chocolate factory here, it all comes off as just a bit dull and sickly. One of the main things is that it sounds very echoey inside the factory, whilst a lot of the rooms all around the factory look the same, as if it’s actually just a factory, which ruins that fantastical, imaginative sense that made the original and the book so endearing.
Of course, this is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, so you can expect it to be weird, but this film fails even in that respect because of a strange mix of Burton’s classic dark humour and overly kid-friendly comedy and story lines. The problem here is that the film tries so hard to be oriented towards children while also retaining Burton’s trademark style, and it’s a mix that just doesn’t work, leaving you stuck in no-man’s-land as to whether to be weirded out by the whole thing or just sitting there trying to laugh.
The character of Willy Wonka is also quite poor here. Johnny Depp’s performance is just too excessive, and it seems like he’s just doing some sort of failed Dr. Evil impression while trying to be creepily welcoming to children. However, the main reason that Mr. Wonka just isn’t such a good character is because of what the film chooses to reveal about him.
In comparison to the 1971 film, where we learn gradually that Wonka is some sort of schizophrenic, which really was good because it made him particularly exciting and mysterious, this shows overly long-winded back stories that aren’t at all interesting and create a character that doesn’t seem to have much depth, but just a childhood trauma that is very generic and predictable to follow.
Finally, one of the most horrible things about this film is how bad its songs are. The original had sweet, fun and imaginative songs, and although this new one wants to be different, it’s full of excessively grand dance numbers that go on for way too long, as well as being performed by the very poor Oompa-Loompa reboot.
Overall, this gets a 5.3, because despite having intentions to be a different adaptation of this beloved story, everything falls flat on its face and is simply not entertaining to watch.