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Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD

Roald Dahl surely must have written this book knowing that someday there would be a director like Tim Burton.

This is the kind of material the man was born to make into a movie, and he delivers a wonderfully glorious film in every sense of the words.

The story follows Charlie Bucket. He’s not faster, stronger, or smarter than other boys, and he lives in a tiny house with his parents and both sets of grandparents. He is, however, the luckiest kid in the world, although unbeknownst to him.

Willy Wonka, the famous chocolateer, has slipped five golden tickets into his candy bars, and the five children who find them will get to spend a day at his chocolate factory. One of them will receive a prize more fantastical than any could ever imagine. As the first four tickets are discovered, and they all belong to wretched little brats, Charlie becomes more and more disillusioned.

Sure enough, he finds the last golden ticket, and he’s off to see Willy Wonka.

Considering nobody has seen Mr. Wonka for 15 years or so, nobody knows quite what to expect. When the man finally appears, they’re all taken slightly aback by his eccentricities. As it turns out, this whole golden ticket fiasco may just be a part of something much bigger.

This is definitely a Tim Burton movie. Every actor is perfectly cast, the production design is astounding; basically, everything is as good as it could be. Some may be wary of Johnny Depp’s performance as Wonka (we were), but he pulls it off much better than it may be initially expected.

If the rumors we’ve heard are all true, then the chocolate river was real chocolate, and the candy room was real candy. They even trained a bunch of squirrels from birth for the whole nut-opening scene.

Warner Bros. seemingly wrote Burton a blank check for this feature, and no expense has been spared. You can plainly see every dollar that was pumped into the film, and the final result is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.



The use of visual effects to enhance certain aspects is very Robert Zemeckis-esque. Some of the characters have a cartoonish tint to their features, which is off-putting at first, but becomes a part of the experience. And don’t even get us started on the Oompa-Loompas. The film would not be what it is without them, particularly Deep Roy as the entire lot.

The whole family can enjoy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on their own individual level. It’s a wonderful achievement, from start to finish, and possibly the best movie of the year so far (though we’re holding off on judging until we see King Kong).

The DVD comes complete in a single disc version (wide or full screen), and a two-disc deluxe edition with a second DVD of special features. We received the single disc edition, which features 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. The picture sparkles, with the bright colors and fantastical thingamajigs coming through beautifully. Detail is crystal clear, with not a single trace of grain or any other objects. This is a video transfer to rival Batman Begins.

The audio is equally excellent, with surrounds that are constantly busy with music, sound effects, or song-and-dance routines courtesy of the Oompa-Loompas. Danny Elfman’s typically Danny Elfman score fills the room with its quirky eeriness, but the dialogue is occasionally overpowered by it. Volume fluctuates enough that you must be careful watching it late at night if you have nearby neighbors.

Extras on the single disc edition are pretty disappointing. There’s a 7-minute featurette on how they turned Deep Roy into the Oompa-Loompas, which is an entertaining piece, but it’s the only supplement of substance. There’s also an interactive Oompa-Loompa dance, and the theatrical trailer.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
115 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Starring Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox with Deep Roy and Christopher Lee
Produced by Brad Grey, Richard D. Zanuck
Screenplay by John August, directed by Tim Burton

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Updated May 13, 2006