Other than "ED WOOD", and "EDWARD SCISSORHANDS", this reviewer finds Tim Burton to be vastly overrated as a director. He absolutely ruined the potentially great remake of "PLANET OF THE APES."
Burton has decided to revisit a "classic" children's film, "WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY" with his "CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY". The Roald Dahl story is a masterpiece of sorts. It's the kind of book that makes children "want" to read! Filled with extremely creative characters, descriptions and more, it felt like a revelation to this critic, upon reading it as a child. With that said, why "remake" or "revisit" something if it's going to be less than great? Tim Burton's penchant for cartoon-like set designs and colors aids in making the atmosphere of "CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY" interesting, but little more. The previous "WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY" was actually more successful in mastering the balancing act between disturbing situations and comedy, than Burton manages to achieve here. There's just nothing that feels "new" to Burtons' version. None of the outcomes awaiting the various children visiting Wonka's factory are as imaginative or entertaining, as they were in the previous film, and that's even with modern day special effects!
Johnny Depp is fine, but this critic will take Gene Wilder any day over his almost "mealy-mouthed" performance here. Even the addition of Christopher Lee as Wonka's father, can't overcome the rest of the film's lack of originality.
Children, especially those who've not seen the previous "Willy Wonka" film will probably enjoy this version, but there's too little worthwhile to recommend it for adults.
WARNER BROS. has preserved the film's 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The problems afflicting the mediocre dvd are gone in this HD-DVD. Colors are bold and none of those dvd problems with hues are here either. While the dvd lacked impressive detail, this HD-DVD is excellent in this area, offering great depth and near 3-d like atmosphere to the imaginative sets throughout the film. While there's still some grain, it's an improvement over the dvd. Blacks and grays are still on the same level as the dvd, good but not great.
WARNER BROS. has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix for the film. It's an aggressive, creative mix, with plenty of discrete and surround effects. The surrounds kick in to high gear at key moments, adding a real flair to scenes that are otherwise kind of flat. The less than memorable songs still lack clarity in terms of understanding the lyrics, just as they did in the previous dvd and in theaters.
WARNER BROS. has also included a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, but it's only for the film's score. Danny Elfman has already proven his genius with past film scores and this one for "CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY" never lives up to any of them. It's really disappointing WARNER BROS. didn't choose to offer TrueHD for the whole mix instead.
All of the extras from the dvd have been carried over.