Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I’ve been looking forward to Tim Burton’s version of CATCF for some time. I love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and it’s a film that I can watch over and over again. Now, I knew not to compare these two films. Tim Burton was always going to do it differently, and indeed likely stay closer to the book. After the first trailer came out I was desperate to see the film, but when the second trailer came out I started to have doubts. Anyway, I watched it and here goes.

The film is good as a book adaptation. It has none of the magic of the first film, but as I said, that was to be expected. It’s much darker and gorgeously filmed. Johnny Depp plays a brilliant wonka, not the eccentric slightly sinister version played by Gene Wilder, much more odd and emotionally crippled. And this is where the problems with the film start. The screenwriter John August has openly stated that he made Wonka the protagonist of the film which means Wonka is going to grow with the film.

As I pitched it to Tim: Charlie gets a factory, and Willy Wonka gets a family. It’s the whole want-versus-need thing. Charlie doesn’t need a factory. Wonka really needs a family. Otherwise, he’s going to die a giggling misanthropic weirdo.

This really spoils the film. Cut throughout the films are flashbacks to wonka’s childhood. Flashbacks that tried to explain why Wonka is the way he is and why he was driven to become the best confectioner in the world. Only, they don’t work. All the do is distract from the rest of the film. I feel that they become “subtitles for the hard of thinking”. Wonka is an odd character and that is all we need to know, that’s his charm. We don’t need it wrapped up in some neat little parcel. Ultimately this leads to a different focused ending from the book, ie: “Charlie gets a factory, and Willy Wonka gets a family”

It’s a shame because the film goes from being a likable well done Tim Burton film, into a mediocre watch once and forget effort.

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