Wow, long time since I saw a movie a second time so soon after the first viewing, but this was worth it. First viewing was basically for my cute child actress fix but I could almost get past that this time and I noticed a few things.
Has anyone noticed a similarity in the make-up on Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Depp? It’s something around the mouth, makes them look frighteningly similar and I wonder if Tim Burton was trying to say something in this, I mean this movie is kind of full of semi-Freudian connections etc, here’s hoping for a good DVD commentary.
The songs are amazing – I lied in my first review that Violet’s song is my favourite because I was just under her spell lol. Veruca’s song had me literally beaming this time round, it’s a fantastic number, the setting is great, and Wonka’s delight at the inevitable unfolding of events, his jerking his head in time to the music etc, I think this whole scene represents Dahl’s novel the best. There again, I also love when Mike Teevee’s song segues into the sixties bit, too. As with the old musical version, the music here is by far the coolest thing in the movie (except you know who :p) Since watching the movie for the first time I kept meaning to check the IMDb or get the book out and see if the lyrics were Dahl’s originals, and I noticed in the credits this time that yes, they are. While this is very cool, obviously it means the movie can’t win an Oscar for any of these songs which is annoying since it seems years since we had any good movie songs. Here’s hoping Danny Elfman gets at least a nomination for the score – don’t worry, Academy, we’ll all know it’s for the songs
The other thing I noticed more this viewing is how sad Wonka is. Tim Burton usually has his bizarre characters revel in their weirdness, but here he seems to be really looking at the negative side of it. For a kids’ movie, this thing really is kinda weird, for want of a much better word. Wonka is genuinely kinda scary in places. Unlike the old musical Wonka, his behaviour during the factory tour isn’t an act at all. And the way it all seems planned, how he delights in the way the brats get what’s coming to them, it’s all gleefully sick really, but ultimately sort of disturbing. I don’t really know how I feel about this, I’m just sort of observing it – it’s sort of bitter-sweet, I guess. He probably has a candy to describe it. Maybe one of those Litmus lozenges from Because of Winn-Dixie would do the trick. And now I’m thinking of AnnaSophia again lol.
Addendum: Almost forgot for the second time – love all the little sightgags and homages. My favourite – the pink sheep scene, a simply hilarious nod to another Johnny / Burton collab, my favourite Ed Wood
18th July 2005:
I had none of the problems that some people seem to have inherited from Roald Dahl with the old Seventies musical version (he was apparently exceedingly disappointed with that version which is why a new version has been long coming). I loved that version, and had pretty much anyone else been involved with the creation of this ‘re-imagining’, I’d‘ve been even more cynical than I was anyway. I love Johnny Depp, I love Tim Burton, I like John August, and I think AnnaSophia Robb is really really cute, so my cynicism was pretty much always gonna be kind of quashed by the movie.
I was surprised by the emotional notes hit by the movie. From a tiny moment outside Wonka’s factory with Charlie to Charlie’s rejection of Wonka’s “prize” on account of his family, to the final reconciliation between Wonka and his father, I was as moved by this one as by Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands.
Yet of course it’s mostly nuttiness. This could still almost be called a musical version of Dahl’s book, there are a whole bunch of songs. They satisfied me, as a fan of the amazing music in the Seventies movie, plenty, I have to say.
Violet Beauregarde is my favourite character. Denise Nickerson was amazing I think in the older movie and though I thought AnnaSophia Robb was cute enough in Because of Winn-Dixie, I was still most cynical about her taking the role of one of my favourite movie characters of all time. I’m pleased to say, though, that her performance (though obviously brief) near made me forget Denise Nickerson ever existed. Her Oompa-Loompa song is also my favourite (in both versions, I might add), and the blueberry transformation (which always kinda made me feel weird in a good way if you know what I mean lol) is definitely better than the old movie. I wonder if anything else was made of Violet’s karate thing (which is glimpsed in an early scene) in deleted scenes here? I guess we’ll have to wait for the DVD. It just kinda didn’t correlate with her saying to her mom “I’m more flexible now!” in her last scene … I mean, why karate, why not make her a gymnast?
I didn’t find Freddie Highmore that amazing in Finding Neverland or Two Brothers (I haven’t seen Five Children & It yet but I want to, I loved the BBC series of that book) but there’s at least one moment here, when he’s stood outside the Wonka factory as he thinks the last ticket has been won, that really got me “right here”. He’s a great Charlie.
Of course Johnny Depp is impeccable. There’s elements of all kinds of things in his performance, but it’s mostly him. I think the comments about Michael Jackson are pretty fair – there’s definitely something Jackson-like about the character, I don’t know who was responsible for the similarities, Johnny, Tim Burton, John August, or even whether it was intended or not, but it’s kind of an unavoidable similarity, and actually kinda funny unless you get offended by, like, people sneezing or something.
Danny Elfman’s score is cool. I mean, the soundtrack is worth buying for the songs alone. The instrumental score is a little too Spider-Man for me in places, but y’know, Danny Elfman is getting a little like Hans Zimmer – he’s pretty repetitive but it nevertheless always seems to work. Most movie-makers seem to use these guys for temp scores anyway, and it shows in a bad way.
On a first viewing, I’ve gotta say, something was missing. It could just be I wanted more of Violet, even though I had no reason to expect any more. One thing that bugged me was that it seemed way more episodic and disjointed than the old version. The dispensing of the kids feels a little rushed, like the sequences just run one after another. I guess the book is pretty much like this and the plot is basically, get rid of the kids one by one – but anyway, the movie feels a lot faster here. I think it’s a DVD I’ll definitely buy though. Either a continuation of my Johnny Depp / Tim Burton collection or a start of an AnnaSophia Robb collection (I guess I’ll have Winn-Dixie by then ‘cos of Courtney :-p so continuation there too). I just realised, since they did ‘themed’ character posters, they might do different DVD covers too, lol. I hope they do a Violet one!