Warner Home Video
Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Deep Roy
Extras: Featurettes, Trailers, Interactive Segments
Having grown up watching the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" with Gene Wilder in the lead of Willy Wonka, yet not seeing the film for quite a few years, I sat down to view it. At the time, Tim Burtons new version of the film titled "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" had just premiered in theaters and while I usually await the next film from the director with excitement and curiosity, my first impressions of the theatrical trailer left me feeling a little disappointed, even though I try to never form early opinions of a film solely based on its teaser or trailer. So, back to the original, after viewing it again after all of these years, I was quite disappointed at how the film just didn't age well at all. Now that my curiosity was really generated around the new telling of this story, I decided to see just what Mr. Burton had in store for me. Well, the complete opposite of what I had originally thought took place, thinking that the new version would not hold up to the original, I ended up enjoying this new version ten fold! Now there is always going to be those who insist that the original presentation of any film will always remain superior, without giving any new version a chance, I never consider myself one of those people, even though my first thoughts on this film were leading that way.
When stranger than strange candy maker Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) introduces a worldwide contest that will see the winners get a personal guided tour of his candy factory, a virtual frenzy erupts among consumers. With only five "golden tickets" available for grabs, wrapped inside each of the five individual bars of Wonka's trademark chocolate, the race is on to acquire the coveted prize. While a young boy named Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) who lives near Wonka's factory in the poorest of conditions, had always been fascinated with the idea of just what went on behind the walls of Wonka's mysterious candy factory, but realizing that his chances are slim to none as he only receives one of Wonka's candy bars a year for his birthday. One by one the tickets surface, in the hands of some of the nastiest children, until Charlie's luck changes and he uncovers a coveted ticket himself! Entering the factory for the tour offers everything most candy lovers could only dream of, with a few surprises along the way, until Willy Wonka selects one of the lucky children, through a hilarious process of elimination, to inherit the chocolate factory from Wonka himself.
Warner Home Video presents "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in a beautiful 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Featuring magnificent color saturation that truly comes to life once inside the candy factory, you are in for a vibrant visual feast that could only come from the mind of Tim Burton. Black levels are strong and rich providing tremendously crisp images, without overwhelming fine shadow detailing. The overall transfer is clean and razor sharp with only the very minor introduction of fine grain that becomes visible during some very bright scenes.
Included for the soundtrack options are three complete Dolby Digital 5.1 EX sound mixes, available in your choice of English, French or Spanish. I found the sonic presentation quite pleasing throughout, providing good all around balance, with naturally reproduced vocals and good use of all available channels. There is also the nice inclusion of deep rich bass from the lower frequency .1 channel that offers up just the right amount of "boom" to the soundtracks presentation.
The single disc presentation of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" includes a theatrical trailer and a feature titled "Oompa-Loompa Dance". Also included is the behind-the-scenes featurette titled "Becoming Oompa-Loompa" that introduces us to Deep Roy, the only image of "Oompa Loompa" present in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Focusing on the visual effects department, we learn just how one single performer was digitally mapped through CGI to produce several individual "Oompa Loompas" with the same characteristics.
There is also a two disc version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" available, which includes; "The Fantastic Mr. Dahl", a behind-the-scenes section titled "Challenges: Oompa-Loompa Dance Machine", "The Inventing Machine", "The Bad Nut" and "Search for the Golden Ticket". Also included is "Attack of the Squirrels" and a selection of five short "Making-of" featurettes that complete the value added materials section. The two disc set also comes packaged with five limited-edition trading cards.
Slightly cheesy at times, including the rather cartoon-like CGI used during the opening title sequence, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" still managed to impress. I especially enjoyed the, as expected, great performance from Johnny Depp, with his larger than life super-white teeth to boot!