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Friday, September 09, 2005

Swifty Reviews 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' And Explains Wonka's Dad Subplot.

Many people have hopped into the Johnny Depp bandwagon since 'Pirates of the Caribbean', and thanks to Johnny Depp bandwagoning, 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory' became one of the most hotly-anticipated films on summer, even among those who didn't even know about the existence of those Roald Dahl books.

Tim Burton's last film, 'Big Fish' was dazzling and emotional, making me forgive him for the Planet Of The Apes remake. But then, father-son movies usually work really well on me. Other recent father-son movies that made tears well up in the eyes of one as manly as I were Oscar-winning Canadian-French flick 'Barbarian Invasions' and Tom Hanks-starrer 'Road To Perdition', which I saw with my dad!

The synopsis of the film is already revealed in the trailers (5 children won a trip in a chocolate factory ran by the eccentic Willie Wonka), so there's not much for me to talk about. This film is a visual spectacle, with really impressive and colourful-looking sets. The acting is good, with Depp and Highmore (kid playing Charlie) once again collaborating after 'Finding Neverland', and Highmore proving that he's a fine, fine child male actor. A successor of Haley Joel Osment?

It's been more than a decade since I've read the book, but if memories serve me right, this is a rather faithful adaptation, except for an added subplot about Willie Wonka and his estranged dentist father (played by Christopher Lee, who remained as menacing as Saruman or Count Dooku). I had wondered, why, all of a sudden, would Tim Burton add a subplot like this? Another father-son thingie after he had already done Big Fish?

So, I went to a wee bit of research, and found out that Tim Burton did have a rather distant relationship with his parents. He moved out from their home to live with his grandmother when he was 12. His dad died on 2000 (and his mom on 2003), and that had him pondering about his relationship with his dad. Did more of that when he himself became a father. And because of that, he could relate very well to the story in Big Fish, and probably needed to add a subplot such as this to express himself.

That's what I liked about Tim Burton, always getting himself emotionally involved with his films despite his commercial success. There's always something to express. And his quirky signature style is usually apparent in most of his flicks. Unlike those crap directors who seem only interested in putting explosions and all kinds of rubbish in their action movies for the sake of having a huge weekend opening in the box-office.

Besides, he's cool, he makes sure his wife, Helena Bonham Carter, is in every single movie he makes. Looking for the obligatory 'Helena Bonham Carter' role is almost something I always do when watching a Tim Burton film (playing the mom in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the witch and another woman in Big Fish, the ape woman in Planet of the Apes, and also the voice of the er, corpse bride in the upcoming Corpse Bride). And Helena's a great sport.

So yeah, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a good film, it's worth checking out. it kinda didn't meet the lofty expectations I had of it, but it's still very entertaining. I'm definitely looking forward to 'Corpse Bride'.

And damn, if only they would make 'The Glass Elevator' too.
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