Saturday, November 19, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

[Pic Courtesy IMDb]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is wild, wacky and wonderful. I have not seen the original version but this one is a testament to director Tim Burton's wonderful imagination and the film's technical crew's talent in bringing it to life. It is one of those films where almost every scene made me wish I was watching it on the big screen.

Willy Wonka(Johny Depp) is the owner of the world's largest chocolate factory and a recluse. Years ago he fired all his factory workers but still somehow manages to make and ship the world's most popular candy bars. One day he announces that he has hidden golden tickets inside 5 of his candy bars and that the finders of those tickets will get a 1-day tour of his factory. Charlie, a poor but good-hearted boy, lays his hands on one of the tickets and joins a chocolate-glutton Augustus, a spoilt Veruca, an over-competitive Violet and an intelligent but cynical Mike on the tour.

CCF is a visual delight. Burton makes the chocolate factory a futuristic, fantastic place and lets his imagination run wild since he is not restricted by the rules of the real world. Tim Burton's name, atleast for me, usually conjures up visions of dark, atmospheric movies with seriousness oozing out of every frame. But things are the exact opposite here. Every section of the factory is a riot of bright colors with no place for anything dull or plain. Even more incredible are the modes of transport used between those sections, like the glass elevator and the boat.

Burton's imagination is not limited to just the physical aspects of the movie though. The different kinds of candy Wonka thinks of(there's a gum that would serve as an entire meal) and the ways they are produced are all pretty fantastic.

The Oompa Loompas turn out to be the life of the film. They are the tiny workers in the chocolate factory who make sure its wheels are turning smoothly. Played by a single actor Deep Roy, who is cloned using special effects, the sight of them scurrying around and performing their roles in synchronized fashion gives the movie its energy. Their song-and-dance routines, played after each kid gets his or her comeuppance, are the high points of the film and are both catchy and choreographed spectacularly.

The film is not all style and no substance though since it eventually drives home the point that one's family is of paramount importance. This gives the movie its heart and at the end, gives us the feeling that we've seen a film rather than just a collection of some colorful sets and nifty special effects.
Johny Depp has made a career out of playing eccentrics and plain weirdos and so playing Wonka is not much of a stretch for him. His make up, hair and other accessories(like those huge glasses) do more than half the job for him and an wink here and a grin there are all that are required of him. The actor playing Charlie's grandfather is the only one who makes a mark among the supporting cast.

13 Comments:

At 6:43 AM, Blogger srivat said...

I totally agree.I also haven't seen the original and went without any expectation to the movie.But I was really surprised with the theme and the visuals.It once again made me realise that Cinema is a medium where the theme as such is not so important but the way it is presented really does matter.
BTW I love choclates.:-)

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

innum pakkala.. will rent it this week.

:)

i avoided the movie based on tim burtons reputation for the "dark arts"..

 
At 9:43 PM, Blogger Babs said...

Nice review Balaji asual :-)
Thats kinda unsual for Burton right, I call him the guy who makes Scary Tales not Fairy Tales, but I loved his 'Big Fish' great characters and amazing visual treat.

I saw both the versions CCF and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory WCF. I heard the new one (i.e Burton's) is more close to Dahl's book as I haven't read it meself and old one was a real classic with some added flavour for a movie adaption. In WCF the boy did great job and children learnt a very good lesson, even the factory looked quite amazing given it was taken during Gene Wilder's time.

CCF was a bit creepy viz burning dolls @ the beginning, that german kid breaking all the flowers etc.
I was a bit disappointed with Burton couldn't create as much WOW factor to the factory but did do good job in some scenes.

You must see the old one when u get a chance, would love to hear ur thots on that.

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

srivat, u're totally right on the presentation being the most important thing.
and is there anyone who doesn't? :-)

sundar, looks like the harry potter effect hasn't gone yet? :-) this one isnt totally non-weird. but very different compared to his usual stuff.

babs, i too heard that the original was a real children's film but that this one's darker tone was a better reflection of what was in the book. there were surely a few creepy scenes. in fact, some of the scenes(like the girl being blown up) had me worried that something scarier would happen but thankfully nothing did :)

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Newsandseduction said...

the catch is how much style and how much substance.

 
At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are reasons why Hollywood should think twice about adaptations of older classics! - and this movie is one such reason!
"Burton's imagination is not limited to just the physical aspects of the movie though. The different kinds of candy Wonka thinks of(there's a gum that would serve as an entire meal) and the ways they are produced are all pretty fantastic." - Burton did nothing new here, the gum existed in the first movie too.
"Their song-and-dance routines, played after each kid gets his or her comeuppance, are the high points of the film and are both catchy and choreographed spectacularly." - catchy, really? Cos I couldn't remember even one song the minute each sequence was over, let alone two days after watching the movie.
- Johnny Depp: excellent actor, bit too creepy and Michael Jackson-esque in this movie.
- Why did we need to digress into the Johnny's relationship with his father? This movie is about charlie, not Wonka.
- Ompa Lompas (like the song lyrics) were instantly forgettable unlike the orange Ompa lompas of Gene Wilder's film.

My kid cousin in India saw the older version on Nickelodeon and fell in love with it, constantly singing 'ompa loompa'. The classic has no problems winning an audience even now and is still much loved by the adults who grew up with the movie. What's that saying 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'!

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Babs said...

Anony,
Well said, cant agree any more.

I guess the reason is he has become a Producer's Director like other money making leeches in Hollywood. He tried it on the great classic Planet of the Apes and now this, both got the returns what he needed but lost the respect for him making wonderful character driven movies with wild imaginations.

That being said I still think he makes great movies and will continue too, just avoid the big old classic he chooses to remake for money sake.

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, as i said in the review, i havent seen the older version.

and regarding the oompa loompas' dance numbers, i said that they were catchy and not memorable. i don't remember them now either but i enjoyed them during the movie and after the movie finished, i went back and saw just those numbers :)

and i've read more than 1 review saying that this version was more in tune with the dark tone of the book.

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

I had seen the older version; it was much much better. It was very soft, smooth and sweet just like its name...

The new version had Willy Wonka make faces and silly expressions ( reminds me of Michael Jackson ). The whole thing about finding the oompa loompas and the gooey stuff in Africa is sick.

The older version had a strong moral advice to the fate of each children and the songs and sets were much natural. Even though they were devoid of any animated graphics...

The legendary oompa loompas were made absolute jokers in the new version...

The number of accusations on this move could go on an on...

But nothing could ever match with the older film version " Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ".

 
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