Do you remember the opening credits of the original Willy Wonka? That footage of a chocolate factory at work. Remember how warm and inviting it was? With that pleasant music and that warm color to every shot? That, in my mind, is the perfect opening to a film. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just a warm, appetizing welcome.
Now compare that to this movie. Everything is CGI. It’s all dark and cold like it’s been more sterilized than a hospital room. Though I think morgue would be a more fitting analogy, considering how lifeless it all looks. If the original’s opening was like a warm bowl of soup on a cold day, this one feels like it came out of a cold can.
It’s a total failure. On every level. Like, literally every level! The writing sucks, the visuals are cold and lifeless, and the acting is so bad that it makes me view The Room in a much less ironic lense! It completely fails as its own movie and as a remake of the original classic!
But to be fair: I’m only going to judge this movie on its own merit. I’ll end my little Wonka-thon next week, when I compare each movie next to the other. But for now, I’m going to pretend that the classic film doesn’t exist (hard as that may be). I’ll pretend like this is the only Willy Wonka movie that exists.
And I hate it. Completely. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a movie so much in my life. And sat through the entirety of Cats!!
Story: The Least Inspiring Underdog Story Ever
You know the story. At least, the original version of it. Just picture that. Only make it worse. In every conceivable way.
Charlie Bucket is a poor boy living in a rugged house with his parents and four grandparents. One day, the legendary Willy Wonka sends out five golden tickets. Whoever finds them gets let into his factory, blah blah blah, you know the rest.
Now just make the first thirty minutes boring and the rest painful.
The first thirty minutes is basically just a series of bullet points. Like this!
- Introduce character on TV
- Charlie’s family commentates on their personality
- Charlie is sad that he doesn’t have Golden Ticket
Rinse and repeat until Charlie finds his ticket. Then add in some crappy subplot about his dad losing his job that goes nowhere. Badabing! You have some of the most miserable, lifeless entertainment I’ve ever seen.
And then there’s the rest. The factory. And good god, if Hell were ever captured on film, I think this would be it!
This part of the movie is just… who thought any of this was a good idea? They try to incorporate some kind of mystery by having the Oompa Loompas already know all the kids’ names, but it goes absolutely nowhere and doesn’t mean anything. All of the kids are written to be cartoonishly evil, which makes them completely insufferable and uninteresting. Remember how Grandpa Joe used to work at the factory? Don’t worry! Neither did the movie!
Oh yeah. And they gave him a sad backstory. Because we all know that a character that’s supposedly mysterious should have one of those!
But it’s not all bad! Um… let’s see… something positive… uh… they tried to give the kids some depth, like how Violet is competitive and how Mike is smart. But those personality traits never mean anything to the story itself. None of them go anywhere at all and they don’t do anything but pad out the run time.
Never in my life did I think two hours could be so long…
I could go on and on forever about everything this movie does wrong on a writing front. So many scenes are completely pointless, adding nothing to the story but wasting your time. That’s the whole movie, really. It’s a big waste of time. A loud, obnoxious, and desperate bombardment of the senses.
And I’m just getting started.
Presentation: I’m Gonna Slit My Wrists
Fun fact: Tim Burton is known for his bizarre, acid-trip-like style, but did you know that style actually sucks ass and I hate it?
Now, if properly executed, his style could work with this particular story. If the first part had taken place in a realistic, normal setting, then the factory itself was bizarre and freakish, it would’ve been super interesting! But Tim Burton just couldn’t help himself. He had to make everything weird and unnatural!
Not only that, but it all feels so cold. Kind of… hostile, in a way. Like a horror movie! Like when all the kids are caught up in the various accidents. They’re all shot like Freddy Krueger is about to show up and claw their faces off! It’s all so ominous and uncomfortable! Even the Up and Out scene with the glass elevator is shot like a god damn horror movie!!
This causes a huge tonal clash in the movie with the story. Should I be terrified? Or is this supposed to be an uplifting story? What am I supposed to feel?!
And… the music. Jesus Christ… every song in this movie sucks. Thankfully, there are only the four. But they’re so unbearable that I can’t bear to listen to them! They tried to do a variety of different genres and it… just didn’t work. Who the fuck thought Oompa Loompa rock would be a good idea?!
Oh. Right. Tim Burton.
Performances: Johnny Depp Can Fuck Himself
Okay, let’s get the big one out of the way. I fucking hate Johnny Depp in this movie. He’s completely insufferable, like that obnoxious kid on your bus never grew up. And what’s worse, you can tell that he thinks he’s the best one on set. His ego is on full display in every scene he’s in. Even when he’s put next to Christopher fucking Lee!
Who is the only good actor in the entire god damn movie. And he’s playing the worst character. Which is saying quite a bit, all of these characters are terribly written.
The main problem here is that no one seems to care. Like, at all. None of the kids display any real emotion, least of all Charlie. Even when he’s down on his luck, completely unable to find a Golden Ticket, he just stares like a robot. Kid doesn’t even shed a tear!
Now, to be fair: I don’t want to rag on them for being child actors. Because child actors can still be good! The fact that they’re not is entirely the director’s fault, not the actors.
Except in Johnny Depp’s case. He’s a grown-ass man, he should know full well that what he’s doing sucks.
I don’t think Tim Burton understood what made the original movie so good when he made this one. It’s like every single detail, minor and major, completely flew over his head. I can’t tell you if it was stupidity or ego. But I can tell you, with confidence, that the result is one of the biggest cinematic flops I’ve ever seen.
TL;DR: I hate this shit with all of my being.
If you haven’t seen Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, don’t. Just… don’t. It fails as a remake, it fails as its own movie, and if you want to get really fucking granular, it fails as an adaptation of the original book. Calling this movie a train-wreck would be a compliment. And as you’ve probably seen, I’m not very eager to do that.
Watch the original 1971 movie. Or just skip movie night! If watching this movie is on your to-do list, for any reason, change your plans immediately. Avoid this film like the damn plague.