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 took some time to revisit this classic tale. Around the same 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.
Trying to view the original after all of these years, l couldn't help but notice that the film did not seem to age well at all, leaving me a tad disappointed. Now that my curiosity had been stirred up around this new telling of the 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 retelling of a tried and true classic tenfold!
When the stranger than strange candy maker Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) announces 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" up for grabs, wrapped inside five lucky bars of Wonka's trademark chocolate, the race is on to acquire the coveted prize. Among them, a young boy named Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) who lives near Wonka's factory in the poorest of conditions. Charlie had always been fascinated with the idea of exactly what went on beyond the towering walls of Wonka's mysterious candy factory, but he also realized that his chances of winning are slim at best, as he only receives one Wonka chocolate bar a year for his birthday.
One by one the tickets surface, in the hands of some of the nastiest and most rotten 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.
It took quite some time for the Blu-Ray version of this film to surface, but Warner Home Video presents the release in a decadent 1080p high definition transfer, displaying an approximately 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like on the HD-DVD version before, this release offers an incredibly bold color saturation level that helps to bring the wildly vivid presentation to life. Combined with the deep black levels, which give the image dimension and visual depth, the Blu-Ray presentation exposes every minor detail that comes fourth within every tiny ripple of melted chocolate ever-so-present in the chocolate waterfall, found deep inside Wonka's mysterious candy factory.
The transfer itself is free and devoid of any mars or blemishes. Grain is at a minimum, creating an image that is truly mesmerizing at times. With flesh tones that appear natural, aside from the intentional pastel-like appearance in the children's facial characteristics and Willy Wonka's almost otherworldly tint, this high definition presentation of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is truly a beauty to behold.
The movie comes available with a Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD sound track, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 racks in a variety of language. The audio presentation serves this Tim Burton extravaganza quite respectively with its uncompressed and stunningly cleanly separated presentation. Offering a good balance that easily handles everything from the bizarre Oompa Loompa musical numbers to dialogue tracks and sound effects, this sonic spectacle enhances the incredible visual experience.
In addition to the feature, this Blu-Ray Disc version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" comes packed with some really neat special features, starting with the "In-Movie Experience" with director Tim Burton as he takes you through the creative process behind the production of the film, which is fun and informative and can be viewed simultaneously with the feature.
A full length audio commentary with director Tim Burton is definitely worth the time invested, as well as a great assortment of unique featurettes.
"Becoming Oompa-Loompa", a segment that introduces us to actor Deep Roy, the only true 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 exact personal characteristics.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Dreams" is a short behind-the-scenes feature focusing on the general production of the film. "Different Faces, Different Flavors" introduces us to the actors and their individual characters as portrayed in the film. "Designer Chocolate" delves into the production design of the fable-like town showcased in the film that features both American and British sensibilities. "Under the Wrapper" takes a look at the special visual effects used to bring Wonka's candy factory to life, while "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Sweet Sounds" introduces us to composer Danny Elfman and the score that he wrote and produced for the feature presentation.
"Attack of the Squirrels" is a completely priceless featurette showcasing the training of actual real-life squirrels for use in the "nut shelling" scene found in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". If you love all things cute and cuddly, this one is not to be missed!
"The Fantastic Mr. Dahl" takes a short glimpse into the life of the author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Two more visual effects segments titled "Pre-Vis of Augustus Gloop" and "Pre-Vis of Mike Teavee" along with a theatrical trailer and brief music video-style "Club Reel" complete the nice assortment of special features found on the HD DVD of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
Slightly quirky at times, including the rather cartoon-like CGI used during the opening title sequence, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" still managed to outperform any preconceived notions I may have had. I have yet to be disappointed by the multi-talented and always entertaining Johnny Depp. With his larger than life super-white teeth and hilariously sinister, yet ultra-witty dialogue, Depp delivers another awesome performance that truly shines on this Blu-Ray Disc!