Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)

Rating: ****
Director: Tim Burton
Music: Danny Elfman
Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, Annasophia Robb, Julia Winter, Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz

Tim Burton whips up a visually delicious confection of childhood delight with his adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic novel. Unfortunately, he ditches the original ending in favor of a completely inexplicable and out of place dysfunctional family sub plot, which leaves a bad taste. Some other details are altered, but for the most part it's very faithful to the book, and much more so than "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" (1971). Charlie Bucket (wonderful Freddie Highmore) is a nice and honest kid from an exceedingly poor, but honest and loving family. They live in the shadow of Willy Wonka's fantastic chocolate factory, whose reclusive proprietor (ultra creepy Johnny Depp) has decided to invite five children on a tour of the factory via a contest. Miraculously, Charlie buys a chocolate bar with a winning ticket in it, and he and his grandfather head off to the factory. The other four children include the disgusting Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), spoiled rotten Veruca Salt (pretty Julia Winter), overly competitive Violet Beauregarde (adorable Annasophia Robb), and violently obnoxious Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry). During the course of the tour, these miserable brats fall victim to their own personality flaws with dire consequences. When only Charlie remains, Mr. Wonka imparts a wonderful gift to him, safely securing his future.

First and foremost, the film looks fantastic and is full of Tim Burton's imaginative style and flair. Danny Elfman's campy and quirky soundtrack perfectly complements the visual mayhem, which is what we've come to expect from his collaborations with Burton. Johnny Depp is a mixed bag. He gives a fantastic performance, but he's just downright CREEPY. Creepy looking, creepy sounding, creepy acting - and just what is up with that AWFUL hairdo? The children are wonderful, and their parents are really something. Missi Pyle as Mrs. Beauregarde totally cracked me up with her outrageous caricature of a blonde bombshell. Julia Winter and Annasophia Robb are perfect as obnoxiously spoiled little girls, while Philip Wiegratz and Jordan Fry are less convincing and less engaging. Freddie Highmore's portrayal of Charlie is suberb and right on the money. What struck me most about the children as well as Willy Wonka is the incredible amount of makeup they wear, which makes them look eerily ceramic, as if buffed and glossed to a perfect shine. Deep Roy as the Oompa Loompas is VERY amusing, although the musical numbers seem stylistically out of place from the book and the rest of the film. Ultimately, If you're a fan of dark and twisted childhood fantasy, it's hard to go wrong with this version of "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory."