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'Chocolate Factory' -- Plenty nutty and a bit dark

July 19, 2005|by STEVE YOUNKINS and ROWAN COPLEY

Two summer interns with The Herald-Mail saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," directed by Tim Burton and released on Friday, July 15. Here is a review by Steve Younkins and Rowan Copley.

Steve: How do you think the film basics (cinematography, general acting, scenery, music, casting, etc.) rank?

Rowan: Definitely the most memorable thing for me is the scenery and computer-generated images. The fanciful intro of chocolate bars being made (reminiscent of previous Tim Burton movies such as "Nightmare Before Christmas"), the absurdly slanting house where Charlie lives, and the chocolate factory's fields of candy (a lot like the 1971 version, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory") were enjoyably unrealistic and stylized.

Steve: I loved the casting and costuming of the children. Perfectly done. No well-known child actors were used and the group's chemistry was excellent.

Rowan: I thought Johnny Depp did a great job with the role of Willy Wonka, though he reminded me too much of Michael Jackson for comfort.

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Steve: He had the childlike fanciful appeal, but not the mystique of Gene Wilder. He lacked that sparkle.

And as much as I loved Depp's entrance, it falls short of having the same effect as Gene Wilder's did in the original version. Because of that, I spent the whole movie comparing the two.

Rowan: How was the story in comparison to Roald Dahl's two books about Willy Wonka - "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" - and the 1971 movie?

Steve: It encompassed both books. But that became a double-edged approach, as it forced entirely too much character development into the last quarter of the movie. However, the new movie's ending did improve on the last movie's.

Rowan: Never having read the books, I can say that this movie's ending did conclude the plot in a slightly surprising way, and it worked well. It makes Charlie more likeable than in the last movie, and ties up the weird tendancies of Wonka.

Steve: It expanded upon the character of Willy Wonka, giving him a past and a purpose which the previous movie lacked.

Rowan: I definitely thought there was stuff for adults, even though outwardly it was geared towards children. I thought the humor in the new movie had gleefully malevolent undertones, like in "Nightmare Before Christmas." Willy Wonka enjoys it when the children, one by one, do stupid things that lead to nasty results.

Steve: Overall, "CatCF" is worth watching from a safe distance, however too much of a decent thing will drive a person to suicide.

Rowan: So yeah, pretty enjoyable. Enough, too, for a fan of Tim Burton's more dark movies.

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