CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE
As somebody who grew up watching WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and a fan of the filmís of Tim Burton, I can say that I was more than intrigued when I learned that said director would be at the reins of a remake. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY ($31) restores the title of Roald Dahlís well-known childrenís book to the tale, plus Burtonís skewed sensibilities marry nicely to John Augustís updated adaptation of Dahlís story, giving the candy colored world of chocolatier Willy Wonka a somewhat odd aftertaste. Of course, Burtonís collaboration with favorite leading man Johnny Depp has a lot to do with the success of this project. Deppís interpretation of Willy Wonka is light years away from Gene Wilderís slightly twisted portrayal; however, Deppís emotionally and socially retarded take on the candy making genius has its own alarming properties, which makes one feel both bemused and ill at ease- sometimes both at the same time.
While the plot of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is somewhat different from that of WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY the essentials of the story remain pretty much the same. The plot of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY focuses on young Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), who lives with his impoverished family in a ramshackle cottage that is in the shadow of the worldís largest candy factory- owned and operated by mysterious Candyman Willy Wonka. Years after locking the world out of his factory, Willy Wonka announces that five ordinary Wonka bars contain golden tickets that will grant the bearer entrance to his top-secret candy making facilities. After children of dubious worth find the first four golden tickets, Charlie manages to unwrap the last ticket- but only after suffering a several disappointments. Accompanied by his Grandpa Joe (David Kelly), who once worked in Wonkaís candy factory, Charlie begins a unique adventure of unconventional and even magical properties. The cast of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY also features Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, Adam Godley, Franziska Troegner, Annasophia Robb, Julia Winter, Jordan Fry and Philip Wiegratz.
Warner Home Video has made CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is gorgeous, delivering a sharp and really nicely defined image, with only an occasional shot seeming only slightly soft. Color reproduction is excellent, rendering both the drab outside world that Charlie occupies and the candy colored realm of Willy Wonkaís chocolate factory with equal precision. Blacks are pitch perfect, whites are crisp, plus both contrast and shadow detail are top notch. The film elements from which CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY have been transferred are free from blemishes and display almost no discernable grain. Digital compression artifacts are always well camouflaged.
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY comes with a truly fine Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. While not explosive like an action movie, the sound mix does make great use of the outlying channels for directional effects, ambient sounds and musical fill. Speaking of the music, the fidelity is marvelous, producing both Danny Elfmanís score and the Oompa-Loompa songs in a full-bodied manner. The bass channel keeps everything nicely grounded, but isnít ground shaking. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one includes a theatrical trailer for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and Tim Burtonís CORPSE BRIDE. Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Attack Of The Squirrels is a nearly ten minute program that looks at the difficulty of working with live squires, as well as their Animatronic and digital counterparts. The Fantastic Mr. Dahl provides a seventeen-minute "cliff notes" biography of the author of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Becoming Oompa-Loompa spends seven minutes looking at what it took to turn Deep Roy into an army of Oompa-Loompas. Featuring interviews with cast and crew Making the Mix is broken into five sections: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Dreams (seven minutes), Different Faces, Different Flavors (ten minutes), Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: Sweet Sounds (seven minutes), Designer Chocolate (nine minutes) and Under the Wrapper (seven minutes). For the kids, the disc two also includes the following activities: Oompa-Loompa Dance, The Bad Nut, The Inventing Machine and Search For The Golden Ticket. Disc two is also DVD-ROM enabled with extra computer based content.
With Tim Burtonís skewed sensibilities and Johnny Deppís off kilter performance, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY proves to be an utter delight that stands in the sunlight and not in the shadow of the first film adaptation of Roald Dahlís work. Warnerís DVD looks and sound great and offers some nice extra features. If you are a fan of Burton and Deppís other collaborations, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is a must have. Recommended.
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