DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
May Contain Spoilers!
For me, the definitive version of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, has to be the Mel Stuart’s 1971 version, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. But can we blame Tim Burton for trying to remake this classic? No, not at all. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is a decent and possibly better adaptation of the source book, with smoother edges and a more fantastical tone, whilst Stuart’s take was more edgy and little darker.
But that’s how things were in the 70’s. Kids were ruled by some fear and the idea that bad things happen to bad people was a concept with was embraced more than it is today. And Gene Wilder’s, Willy Wonka was tougher, with a nasty streak and real sense that he was sadistically enjoying the ironic punishments for the naughty children.
But here we have Johnny Depp, who is one of his generations greatest actors, playing his usual Tim Burton role, as a more sympathetic and stranger Wonka. Both are appealing and I would suspect that just as we found Wilder’s performance to be just on the right side of insane, so will today’s kids as where Depp is concerned. The story is essentially the same, but bigger, grander and with more explanation, particularly as for the Oompa Loompas, all of whom are played Deep Roy.
But even they don’t come across right to me but I wonder how I would feel if I had seen this version first or if the 1971 film hadn’t ever have been made? I feel that this film suffered in comparison to our childhood gem and will struggle to live up to it, though having said that, there are still some tonal flaws in my opinion and the songs are nowhere near as good and are in no way memorable.
Burton can be a genius in his interpretations but this isn’t his best work by a stretch. Depp is good, Burton is good but the film never becomes anything more than yet another stylised version of Dahl’s book.