It’s a risky move to make a movie which has already been done and is dearly loved, but if anyone is willing to take risks it is Tim Burton. And if ever there was an actor willing to blindly follow down the same path, Johnny Depp would have to be him. It was known by many that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a decent chance of failing in more ways than one, but in the end it was not a failure in any way. Many may still prefer the Willy Wonka adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, but that in no way should make the newer, and perhaps more accurate, adaptation a failure.
The plot is the same as the original. There is a looming chocolate factory in Charlie’s town, but no workers are ever seen entering it. Chocolate comes out, but it is a mystery how. Charlie’s grandfather used to work for Willy Wonka and he remembers longingly how creative the man was, but the entire factory was fired when someone leaked the secrets of the candy. Both Charlie and his grandfather get a chance to explore the factory when Willy Wonka puts out a contest allowing five children and a guardian to take a tour of the chocolate factory. Although this seems like a dream come true, things aren’t what they seem in the factory.
It is impossible not to compare Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and although the plot is the same, the two films are completely different. The largest difference in the film is the performance of the Willy Wonka character. Gene Wilder had a magical persona to him, especially with some of the songs he sang. Johnny Depp takes Wonka is a quirkier direction, and the music is left to the Oompa-Loompas. The odd behavior of his character is explained in a more detailed back-story. It is a logical explanation, but it isn’t really needed, and in many ways it just gets in the way of the parts of the film which are more directly involved in the plot.
It’s ironic that the cover of the cover art is a picture of Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka despite the fact that the film is called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie is played by Freddie Highmore of the Finding Neverland fame, and he does a great job. In fact, all of the children are good, especially with the relationships they have with their parents.
The Blu-ray features a great deal of perks, though most were already included previously on the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. These features include a number of featurettes, many of them having to do with the details of the special effects of the film, which are far more intricate than the older version of the story. There is a featurette of the Oompa-Loompas, which are all actually just one man. The music was all done by Danny Elfman, including the vocals for the Oompa-Loompas. There is a featurette for the scene with the squirrels, and a biography featurette on the life of Roald Dahl. Many of the special features are also directed at kids, and are interactive. There is a feature which teaches you the Oompa-Loompa dance, candy concoctions, and searching for the golden ticket. There are so many special features to sort through that it will give kids much more to do than just watch the film.