Who better to bring Roald Dahl's adored children's story to life than the mastermind behind inventive films like EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and BEETLEJUICE? From Tim Burton's opening shot--against Danny Elfman's eerie score--this CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is recognizably darker than the Mel Stuart-directed 1971 version starring Gene Wilder. Though the mysterious chocolate factory has been closed for 15 years, it continues to produce and ship candy all over the world. When a contest promises a tour of the plant to the lucky finders of five golden tickets hidden inside wrappers, no one is more excited than Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), an impoverished boy whose family lives mere steps from the factory. Though he can barely afford even one candy bar, fate intervenes, and Charlie finds the last golden ticket.
Joined at the gates by a group of despicable brats named Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Augustus Gloop, and Mike Teavee, Charlie and his Grandfather (David Kelly) venture inside proprietor Willy Wonka's (Johnny Depp) delightful factory for a wild adventure. Each room is a feast for the eyes, and more importantly the taste buds--a sugarcoated dreamland where everything is edible. One by one, however, the children meet unfortunate fates, until only Charlie remains in the company of Wonka and his curiously small workers, the Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy, whose image is multiplied with CG). Sporting a severe bob, and talking in a high-pitched voice, Depp makes his Wonka even weirder than Wilder's. While Burton adds some amusing contemporary touches (like the musical Oompa Loompa routines), and an elaborate back story, he also preserves the charm of the original book. Overall, Burton's visual innovation succeeds in capturing the vividness of a child's imagination--but whether this version trumps the beloved '71 film is for viewers to decide.
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