I wasn’t sure what to expect from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In other words, I was unclear whether it featured the Tim Burton who made gripping and visually stunning films during the ‘90’s (Edward Scissorhands [1990], Ed Wood [1994], Sleepy Hollow [1999]), or the one who’s directed bland Hollywood "products" so far this decade (Planet of the Apes [2001], Big Fish [2003]). While it doesn’t compare well with his best work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a competent effort from Burton, along with being a minor-improvement over Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), the original adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book. However, since the new version is surrounded by many better films intended for children, it won’t be granted the status given to the old one.

*The early sequences between Charlie and his family were interesting and well done (no cheesy musical numbers this time around). Charlie’s residence looked like one of the dilapidated sheds from Sleepy Hollow, but it was just as impressive as any of the CGI work in the film.

*Like Tabuno, I also found the initial puppet-show a bit awkward (but Burton more or less made up for it by taking us to the "hospital" later on where the "victims" were being treated.) And then, it was difficult NOT to think of Michael Jackson when Wonka first appeared; more disturbingly, I also thought of Prince. (Perhaps I’m the one who needs help.)

*If I remember correctly, Stuart’s film wasn’t very crisp moving from one set-piece to another. Burton’s doesn’t waste much time in-between. Wonka’s backstory, an addition by screenwriter John August, is fine, although it could’ve been employed more effectively.

*Enjoyed the treatment received by the spoiled brat. The squirrels were simply doing their job, so there was nothing malicious about it. However, the following Kubrickian sequence just looked out of place, and thus didn’t work as well.

*Every now and then, the theme music of the original film starts playing in my head. It’s hard to shake it off. Can’t say that there was anything special about the score (Danny Elfman) in Burton's effort.

*The performances were first-rate, and helped accentuate the overall message of the film.


Grade: B
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*CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is now available on DVD.