Believe it or not, I was hopeful for the remake of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. While I was never a fan of Tim Burton (I’ve always considered him over rated), I was hoping Burton’s take on the story would be entertaining and very amusing, but alas, Burton botches yet another remake. For those whom may not remember, Burton completely botched the remake of “Planet of the Apes” which went from a thought provoking allegory about society to a dumbed down teen science fiction film. Now, granted, I did give it a good review, it was based mostly on the cast and make up.
Either way, don’t believe the excuses of the hardcore Burton fan boys, this is a remake in every sense of the word, but Burton goes in the hall of fame of directors whom just couldn’t top the original masterpiece.
“Willy Wonka” was a facet of my childhood, a film that never got old, a film that still is as enjoyable and entertaining as it was fifteen years ago. With Burton’s new predictably twisted and gothic remake, I won’t be surprised if ten years from now we’ll even be remembering this bland reproduction. What the original had over this was that it was menacing while being madcap and innocent. Burton is insistent on making this production menacing beyond anything, while the original had fangs behind its smile. With the original film we had each and every device in the factory declaring “It’s beautiful, but very menacing”, while this version just says “It’s menacing” without leaving anything to our imagination. And for a man who loves to use his imagination he doesn’t hesitate to give us the back story to every single character. The original had us curious about Wonka, wondering who he was, where he came from and if Wonka was even his real name, while Burton explains who Wonka is in a meandering back story that was utterly predictable and trite.
Wonka’s father was an anal retentive dentist? Yes, thanks Tim. There are many scenes that made no such sense whatsoever that are randomly thrown in for comedic effect but really don’t hold much relevance. Burton feels the need to draw out these nonsensical sequences rather than just explaining it to us, there’s the back story for him, we get to see how the kids end up after their accidents and there’s an odd scene where Wonka builds a chocolate palace for a famous emperor. Not to mention much of the dialogue is insanely clunky from Wonka’s one-liners which fall so flat, and Highmore’s dialogue as the awe-inducing young boy who spouts lines like “It doesn’t have to have a point, that’s why it’s candy”. What Wilder perfected was the utterly hilarious and sharp one-liners that he threw out to the other characters with such dead pan nonchalant bore toward the children’s presences.
Wilder had an insanity to him that made him look likable while having you pulling your kids to you. Wilder with his bright clothing and wild hair made us believe this was an eccentric man whose genius was this factory. Burton forces down our throat that his version of Wonka is insane by making it very obvious. With pale skin, large teeth, a high pitched voice, and a weird laugh, Burton tried too hard to remind us of Wonka’s insanity. While to me there will only be one Willy Wonka, I just wanted to see Depp have fun with it, and he chews the scenery but is hardly memorable. Wonka here looks a lot like a mixture of Marilyn Manson and Michael Jackson, with an effeminate disposition and ridiculous gleam that really just makes him look like a pedophile more than a mad genius.
Burton’s depiction becomes less an adaptation, and more a display of bravado for his own ego. “Charlie” is essentially stale. The original had such magic and whimsy, and wonder, this seems more cold and antiseptic purposely, while Burton botches the Oompa Loompas. Boo, Burton. The original had dwarfs as the oompa loompas singing songs of warning to the audience, while we have one actor, Deep Roy, multiplied in to a million dwarves who sing some of the most forgettable lavish music about each character that I was just groaning through. But Burton seems to want to exercise that routine. Make it all so forgettable. I had high hopes for this depiction of the original film, and though some of the imagery was fun to look at, and Freddy Highmore gives a very good performance, Burton botches another remake with predictably twisted scenery, a bland story, a horrible alteration of Wonka, and an ending that’s anything but pleasing.