Last night my linguist friend and I went and saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I should mention that there aren't a whole lot of movie options in my linguist friend's hometown. The best alternative was "The Island," which looks like one of those movies where after five minutes in the theater, you know that soylent green is PEOPLE.
I promised him a DVD of "The Island" if he would come accompany me as I lusted after Johnny Depp.
I am a champion luster when it comes to Johnny Depp and have been ever since What's Eating Gilbert Grape , I assure you, but even I had trouble lusting yesterday night.
He comes of as just so Michael Jackson It's hard to get hot for that. I mean, is Johnny Depp intending for him to look like Michael? It's a sort of offensive idea, yet the physical resemblance and the mannerisms Depp uses are too close to be an accident. And that big, beautiful playground that Willy Wonka has built all for himself and decided to share with just the right child. It adds a creepy tone to the movie.
But given how creepy Raold Dahl's work is, it's not a big surprise that the Dahl family has approved this version. (Dahl himself had hated the Gene Wilder version.)
Aside from denying me my lust-opportunities, it was a good movie. I am a huge Tim Burton fan and love how every movie of his creates it's own world. This is not London as I saw it when I was there, this is London seen through the eyes of an artist. (My favorite detail is that when Grandpa Joe (played by the naked guy from Waking Ned Devine) tells a story of something that happened decades before, flashbacks all show Grandpa Joe himself looking exactly the same. Why? Because Charlie is imagining them and that's the only way Charlie has even seen his Grandfather.) More recent Burton movies haven't been as good, but this suggests Burton may be getting his "Edward Scissorhands" groove back.
The script adds a weird little subplot giving Willy Wonka's backstory. Didn't like it. Something a little more faithful to the book would have been better. (Sentimentality about families is something I have long had an issue with Burton about. Burton loves it, I find it manipulative.) But at the same time, they fleshed out Mike Teevee and Violet Beauregard well. Mike is now a skeptical science-whiz kid who thinks he knows everything. (Mid-movie CC leaned over and whispered to her linguist friend "I think I was that kid") Violet is now a perfectionistic, pageant princess (Ok, they don't directly mention pageants, but she has a haircut like Anna Wintour and she's from Atlanta) with a room full of trophies for Gum-chewing and karate. This is a big improvement over their original characterizations as "the kid who likes TV" and "the kid who likes gum."
The Oompa Loompa dance numbers salute Bollywood and one Esther-Williams-style synchoronized swim routine. More to the point, the TV room is one giant tribute to Stanley Kubrick with visual references to a Clockwork Orange and more obviously 2001. The scene with the Walnut-sorting squirrels evokes "Willard" and that kicks ass. In general, this movie could be seen as a kid version of one of those horror movies where the people in the haunted house are picked off one by one.
Basically, it comes down to this:
If you liked the hokey Gene Wilder version, this movie will give you a serious case of the creepies.
If you liked the Roald Dahl book, this movie will give you a serious case of the creepies and you will love it.