CHOCOLATE IS made from cocoa that is pounded and liquified and further heated up and mixed with other tasty ingredients (talked about milk and vanilla), materialized by a container and the end result is either a chocolate bar, chocolate candy, chocolate cake and chocolate toothpaste – kids are getting desperate. Did you know that the single most culprit for cavity and eventually toothache is chocolate? Most likely if you eat chocolate for one year straight you end up wearing dentures. Plus, you’d be in insomnia since chocolate is known for a source of quick energy. Would you believe me if I told you that what I have written above is all made up?
But we’re not talking about chocolates or cavities – too gross for a subject. That is just my excuse for an introductory paragraph.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a film based on a children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl. It starred by Freddie Highmore (“August Rush”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”) and Johnny Depp (no need for reference), also includes the actress Helena Bonham Carter, and directed by Tim Burton. By now you have the idea of what the film will look like: unique, acidic, nostalgic, creepy. But of course, the calibre is narrowed so as not to scare children, who may droll over the luscious chocolates offered in the story.
Did you ever wonder that almost all of Tim Burton’s successful films include Johnny Depp? That’s because they are close friends and so Burton knows exactly what kind of character fits Depp. Think “Sweeney Todd” and “Edward Scissorhands”.
The film begins with a preview of how the chocolates are made inside the Wonka’s chocolate factory, all powered by machine except the owner himself, Willy Wonka (Depp). Not for long, we learn why. On the peak of Wonka’s career, his competitors frowned because they didn’t have a market to share. They sent spies and collected Wonka’s secret ingredients. Soon, they managed to create competitive products and the monopoly was over. This disheartened Wonka and blamed the event to his disloyal workers. From then on, he decided to operate alone.
The intro-animation of the film is striking despite the limited technology on those days. However, I was not particularly impressed and felt slightly cheated. The intro of this film and the intro of “Sleepy Hollow”, also directed by Tim Burton, are identical although the Sleepy Hollow’s interest deals with blood you can see the resemblance. It starts with a particular object then moves into another as the process change and focus again on a particular object. I really thought Tim Burton was all original; it was a shame to rip his own movie.
One day, Willy Wonka slips 5 golden tickets on 5 random chocolates. Whoever gets them will have a tour on Wonka’s factory. It is not surprising that the news is broadcast all over the world because Wonka’s factory is still famous. It is in this moment that we see the character of Charlie Bucket (Highmore), a child of a poor family who lives in a disfigured house but has a kind heart and pure mind. He wins the tour among other ungrateful children, who are already corrupted by the treasure the world has to offer.
I hate to break this up but there aren’t exciting things in the factory except the all-purpose elevator and an overflowing chocolate river. While on the tour, one by one the children disappear as they submit to their egos and this is accompanied by a dancing number of oompa loompas, a small miniature human, which is already annoying when it reaches for the fourth time. Somehow, Willy Wonka becomes entertained with this.
The problem is there isn’t much conflict. You can easily view this film as a short-story stretched into a full-length film. The only conflict I can make up is Wonka’s struggle to reconcile his childhood memory, which partly concerns about chocolates and cavities.
In the end, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” teaches that we should never get too carried away with ourselves, stay humble and why and how to value our family.
PS: Is it me or that corrupted kid above looks like Chucky? See the resemblance?