A whimsical remake of the beloved children’s tale from Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was a popular film for a certain generation raised in the 1970s. Headlined by a young Gene Wilder and colorful Oompa-Loompas, the children’s film reached an adult audience with its candy-coated colors and visually lavish design. In 2005 director Tim Burton took another crack at its source material, the beloved children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stars Johnny Depp in a visual epic that heavily relies on its ornate production design and Hollywood star. Depp plays the famous candy maker Willy Wonka with a flair for the bizarre, recalling Depp’s earlier collaboration with Burton in Edward Scissorhands. Children of all ages should be entertained by the proven tale and fun musical numbers. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a pleasing children’s movie with a sweet story. Its basic concept has seeped into our pop culture by osmosis over the decades, one of the key reasons it was remade in the first place.

Willy Wonka runs the world’s largest candy factory, shipping his beloved treats all across the globe. No one has been inside his factory for 15 years, the secretive Wonka fired his employees after a case of industrial espionage. No one is quite sure how the candy is made but it tastes delicious. Willy Wonka announces that he has included five Golden Tickets in random Wonka chocolate bars. Any child with a Golden Ticket will be given a complete tour of Wonka’s factory, revealing its tasty secrets. One child from the group will be given a special prize at the end of the tour.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a colorful delight, one that should entertain children and adults alike.

Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is a boy from a poor family. His father supports them with a meager job at a toothpaste factory. Helena Bonham Carter appears as Charlie’s mother in a small role. The family is so poor that Charlie gets one Wonka bar per year, on his birthday. The kind and loving Charlie dreams about winning a Golden Ticket and visiting Wonka’s factory. Long story short, Charlie does get a Golden Ticket and wins the trip alongside four other children, all with highly exaggerated personality traits. The gluttonous Augustus Gloop from Germany, the spoiled Veruca Salt, intense competitor Violet Beauregarde from Atlanta, and aggressive Mike Teavee from Denver.

The children and their guardians enter the fantastical candy factory on a tour supervised by Willy Wonka himself. The loopy candy maker gets a whimsical backstory tinged with tragedy for a children’s film. The wonderful sights seen inside Wonka’s factory are what made the first adaptation such a popular film and Burton continues that tradition, including a smart update on the Oompa-Loompas and effective special effects. The children’s tour quickly becomes a grand fantasy adventure as they sail on a river of chocolate, occasionally broken up by humorous musical songs by the Oompa-Loompas staged like wild music videos.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a colorful delight, one that should entertain children and adults alike. It is the kind of sweet family entertainment where everything comes together- Danny Elfman’s score, Johnny Depp’s performance, a lovable turn by Freddie Highmore as the young Charlie, adorable Oompa-Loompas, and the amazing fantasy scenarios envisioned inside Wonka’s factory. This is the rare Hollywood remake of a beloved film that actually works just as well as the original.

Movie ★★★★

Oompa Loompas @ 50:38

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has had a strange history on home video. The film transfer and video encode used on this 10th Anniversary edition Blu-ray was released nine years ago… on HD DVD. In those days Warner Bros. favored HD DVD with a few exclusive releases they refused to put on Blu-ray. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one such movie. Warner finally released the same encode on Blu-ray in their 2011 edition. The identical video encode has been used once again for this 10th Anniversary edition.

The VC-1 encode belies its age. This was a state of the art compression effort in 2006, receiving far more personal attention than most encodes receive today. That leads to few notable problems with the exception of very minor banding in a couple of frames. More troubling for its picture quality is the 2006 film transfer. Looking like a gorgeous piece of eye candy in 2006 with beautiful colors, the 1080P presentation now looks outdated against newer film scans and better video processing techniques.

Some filtering has been applied, especially to the children’s faces. I doubt such heavy filtering would be used today, their facial features have been rendered completely smooth of all detail. For a second I actually thought Augustus Gloop was pure CGI. The older VFX and CGI are a bit dated by today’s standards, looking soft at times.

This film was always intended as pure eye candy, the original film is a dazzling array of colors. Burton has always preferred working in darker tones, the world of Charlie Bucket is relatively muted and grey. Inside Wonka’s chocolate factory everything brightens up, entire sets are painted in different colors of the rainbow. This is where the movie’s expensive production values come to life, Burton built many of the set-pieces as practical sets.

Framed in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Burton had a massive budget to work with and it shows. The cinematography is very impressive, containing fabulous depth and focus. Shadow delineation is nearly perfect in the crisp black levels. The darker moments avoid crushing, maintaining solid contrast. Kids probably won’t mind the filtered, overly smooth textures.

Video ★★★☆☆

The included lossless soundtrack is great, critical for the music-driven film. One quirk is that the movie defaults to playing the lossy 5.1 EX Dolby Digital option, instead of the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The surround mix has excellent placement and directional cues in perfect fidelity. Panning across the soundstage, the lively sound makes for an engaging listen on a good home theater system. Only the biggest and best Hollywood films receive this kind of smart sound design, balanced with an aim of fully using your surround capability.

Danny Elfman’s scores have been noted hallmarks of Burton’s more popular films and this is no exception. Elfman also contributes to the songs sung by the Oompa-Loompas, stylishly crafted like Pop music videos for kids. This is one of those rare Blu-rays that includes the isolated score in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, a nice bonus for music lovers.

The following optional subtitles display in a white font: Chinese, English, French, Korean, and Spanish.

Audio ★★★★☆

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory receives a robust set of special features, all in a deluxe outer package. Provided in a cool outer slipcase with holofoil accents, a personal message from Tim Burton and 30-page photo book round out the included physical extras. The photo book has big, crisp pictures of each character in their costumes. I would have liked to have seen a few essays or other writings on the film in the book itself. These physical extras seem to be the primary addition to this 10th Anniversary package, which retains the older special features and transfer found on the previous Blu-ray.

The following video-based special features are fairly extensive and detailed, delving into all aspects of Burton’s production. Fans should get a far better understanding of everything it took to get this film made after viewing everything. I should deduct points in that most everything here are vintage featurettes and only featured in standard definition, but new releases rarely get a line-up this deep anymore.

Audio Commentary with director Tim Burton – Tim Burton has never been particularly insightful about his own unique films. This commentary is a struggle at times because Burton goes silent for stretches. It’s a fine learning experience if one keeps their hand on the fast-forward button and skips ahead when he pauses for a break.

“In-Movie Experience” – An interactive feature containing featurettes, interviews and trivia. This type of added feature was WB’s big focus when the market switched to HD DVD and Blu-ray from DVD. They believed a mix of trivia and short featurettes playing over the film would gain popularity. For the most part, this IME works as a light companion to the film. Only occasionally popping up as the film plays, it’s for a more casual audience that would probably grow bored of watching featurettes play on their own.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Dreams” featurette (6:57 in SD)

“Different Faces, Different Flavors” featurette (10:39 in SD)

“Designing Chocolate” featurette (9:36 in SD)

“Under the Wrapper” featurette (6:58 in SD)

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Sweet Sounds” featurette (7:17 in SD)

“Becoming Oompa-Loompa” featurette (7:17 in SD)

“Attack of the Squirrels” featurette (9:49 in SD)

“Fantastic Mr. Dahl” featurette (17:42 in SD)

“Augustus Gloop Dance Pre-Visualization” featurette (02:06 in SD)

“Mike Teavee Dance Pre-Visualization” featurette (01:32 in SD)

“Club Reel” (02:54 in SD) – Footage from inside Wonka’s factory that got played in European music clubs due to their loopy visuals.

Theatrical Trailer (02:26 in SD)

Extras ★★★★★

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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