• James Watkins

Old Favourites: Tim Burton's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

This sweet treat is a chaotic mess of chocolaty whimsey and all-around gob stopping madness. Tim Burton brings bucket loads of his iconic, sinister weirdness to this retelling of the classic children’s books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is a bizarre colourful mess and just what you would want from an adaptation, however it comes across more like a mix between Peewees Playhouse and Saw as each child is disfigured, incinerated, or drowned in chocolate. Its delightfully grim and, despite it being perceived as a somewhat bad film by audiences, I thoroughly enjoy it, even over the original Gene Wilder classic. It stands very much as a guilty pleasure for me, despite its flaws.


The plot is something I would imagine most viewers are familiar with. Wonka announces he is opening his factory for the first time in years and a golden ticket hidden in his candy bars will get you in, simple. The beginning functions to show the drab life of poverty in which Charlie lives, this is later contrasted against the extravagant one of Wonkas. It's in the last twenty minutes, when you’d expect this film to reach its sugary climax it instead goes back to the dull every day, a choice which slows the film down incredibly as we deal with some uninteresting subplot about Wonka. It takes away from the whole film and will have you wondering why it did not end sooner.


Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka is at its core a dull Jack Sparrow with none of the swashbuckling antics and a hearty dollop of angst to boot. It is far from Depp’s best role, but it is a portrayal I wholeheartedly enjoy none the less. The quirky wonder has an endearing charm and although most fans of the books and original movie would probably disagree, I am fond of the unusual, childlike performance. Depp is very much known for his unusual characters and Willy Wonka is no exception here. The child actors are believable, they are not awful, yet you will not be seeing any awards gifted for best child to become a blueberry anytime soon. Aside from the titular Wonka, you are not going to be paying much attention to the acting. Instead, you will spend most of the time taking in the grand spectacle of the fantastical factory, and that is where the movie shines.


The music and visuals are the key cornerstones of the production. Much like the original film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is littered with a slew of dazzling shots and musical numbers. The music is where it shines the most, with each song being an all-round toe-tapper composed by Danny Elfman and performed by the wonderful Deep Roy, who takes on the arduous task of playing each Oompa Loompa. ‘Augustus Gloop’ is by far my favourite, and it is this joyous amalgam of musical genres that makes it such a fantastic number to be at the beginning of the film.


Sure, this movie has not been adorned with as much critical acclaim as the original, and you are probably more likely to watch that over this, but for some reason I keep coming back to Burton's version. Whether it be the songs, visuals, or odd characters, something inevitably keeps pulling me back to watch this wonderful oddity.



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