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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Two-Disc Deluxe Edition

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A-
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/A-/A-

Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John August
Based on the book by: Roald Dahl
Produced by: Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

I'd like to start this review by stating that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not a remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! It is just another film adaptation of Roald Dahl's brilliant book. This is the only time that I will mention that disgrace of a film. I am a huge fan of dark humour, so there is no surprise that I really enjoy watching work by the Coen Brothers and South Park. However, my introduction to dark humour came with the brilliant English writer Roald Dahl. His books have always enchanted me. From James and the Giant Peach to The Witches, his macabre humour has always been enjoyed by me. Who else but Roald Dahl would end The Emperor's New Clothes with the title character going skiing in the Alps? My favourite of his books was always Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I heard that Tim Burton planned on making a film version, I couldn't wait for it to be released. Needless to say, he completely met my very high expectations.

Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is a very poor boy who lives with his family in a crooked house at the end of the town. On the other side of town is wonderful chocolate factory of the most famous sweet maker in the world: Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp). When Wonka decides to hold a contest to allow five children to enter his factory, everyone wants to win it. The first four victors are some of the worst children in the world: A fat pig of a boy (Philip Wiegratz) who just eats chocolate all day, a rich girl (Julia Winter) who is always being spoiled by her father, a competive Atlanta native (AnnaSophia Robb) who loves chewing bubble gum and a video game obsessed brat (Jordan Fry). In a wonderful stroke of luck, Charlie becomes the fifth winner and the next day, he along with the four other children go into the factory. However, each misbehaving child is soon given their just desserts and going away one by one.

I don't think there is any doubt that Tim Burton is a true visionary. All of his films from Beetlejuice to Ed Wood to Corpse Bride are all wonderful to look at. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also falls into that category with the best art direction, costumes and makeup of the year. Danny Elfman's gripping music is also very award-worthy and one of his best scores to date. Of course, the film would not have been as good if not for the performances. Johnny Depp's potrayal of Willy Wonka is absolutely joyous and shows that he can play make character more than the script calls for. Freddie Highmore's work as Charlie is sweet and once again gives the best child actor performance of the year. The other four children also give very funny performances and will make you believe they are evil. If you want to have a great time on a rainy day, watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Most of the extras appear on the second disc, so we don't get much on the first platter (not even a commentary, which is disappointing). There is the film's theatrical trailer and the DVD also starts with an advertisement for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack and a trailer for Corpse Bride. Moving on to the second disc, Warner has suppplied us with some wonderful special features. "Attack of the Squirrels" takes a look at what the filmmakers had to do to create the Nut Room scene in the film. It offers a fascinating look and it is obvious that unlike George Lucas, Burton is not a huge fan of special effects and wants to use as many on-set effects as possible. "The Fantastic Mr. Dahl" is a biographical documentary on the life of Roald Dahl. Even though I would have prefered a better and longer look at the life of this incredible man, what is offered here is really good. The next extra looks at how the special effects supervisors turned Deep Roy into millions of Oompa-Loompas. This is a wonderful featurette that will answer a lot of questions.

In a section titled "Making the Mix", we are offered various featurettes looking at different aspects of making the film. These featurettes look at adapting the book, the film's actors, Danny Elfman's music, the costumes and the special effects. These offer a very good look at the film, although I would rather have gotten a big two-hour documentary on making the film. However, don't we want those types of extras on all our DVDs?

The last extras on the DVD are some games. These are some real time wasters and I gave up on all of them. Warner Brothers have provided the usual great DVD package that they are always releasing and the film is wonderful, so this DVD is worth buying.

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