Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its moral lessons (Part 1)

The 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film delivers a grim moral lesson of the gluttony, pride, greed and ignorance. The film has undertone of consequences of good and bad behaviour in children. The analogies are visibly projected in the film of how those who characterize the hideous vice to get their comeuppance, on the contrary, those who characterize loving and caring traits eventually meet their fortune. Music numbers were incorporated to emphasize their doomed punishment. This movie draw the audience into a beyond imaginative story that shows us love and passion could still be found in our society.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005 musical adventure film directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaption of the 1964 children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Johnny Depp starred as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket. The story if about a talented Willy Wonka, the eccentric owner of a chocolate factory, hid five golden tickets in his Wonka chocolate bars. The lucky owners of the golden ticket will get to visit the chocolate factory with one family member, and one of the five will then win a lifetime supply of chocolates and an exclusive secret prize. All five children who win golden tickets present different personality traits and behaviour, as well as their family members.

The factory is run by Oompa-Loompas, a group of funny people from “Loompaland”, whom Willy Wonka invited to work for him in return of Coca beans. Upon the journey inside the mysterious chocolate factory, the children, one by one, are eliminated accordingly to their misbehaviour. Charlie is the only one to be spared and earns the day winning the special secret prize which turns out to be the factory’s inheritance. However, Charlie refuses because Wonka insist Charlie to leave his family behind. Finally, Charlie helps Wonka reconcile with his isolated father and Charlie, ultimately inherits the chocolate factory.

Though there is not a specific time of history or place setting in the movie, the story is easily noticeable that it starts in cold snowy winter. Winter is a sign of hibernation and perseverance. But there is hidden renewed hope in the far-off distance as spring follows. Houses are lined up neatly with snow covering almost every corner of the town. Charlie’s old and small house is found at the very edge of the city, and the mysterious chocolate factory at the very top center of the town. This is a symbolic imaginary of social class. Various social theories propose a hierarchy arrangement of people in society. Wonka being at the top is viewed as the elites with a great deal of power and intelligence. On contrary, Charlie’s family at the edge is evidently reinforced their struggle routines; with no power or worldly goods and hardly have enough to eat.

About Prince Pondicherry and his Chocolate Palace

Grandpa Joe eventually tells Charlie about the Chocolate Palace tale in order to further depict Willy Wonka. There is a sequence in which Wonka builds a horrific palace made of only chocolate for a rich prince Pondicherry. Pondicherry despite Wonka’s warning, insist to live in it. Soon after, on a very hot day, the palace melts and totally falls apart. Mr. Wonka indeed is a wonderful artist and he is definitely someone who gives advices that should be taken seriously. This part of the film serve as s a foreshadowing revelation of disturbing consequences might follows if Wonka’s advice is not taken seriously. In reality, even though not too many considerable advices are seen wise and righteous, but we should be able to distinguish the good and evil with objective judgment. To be bent on having one’s own way, one will be responsible for the consequences of their own.

About the five Golden Ticket Winners

There are 5 music numbers with stage exorbitantly choreographed scene, set to each turning point in this film. Danny Elfman is the composer of the music scores; he also performed the four, among the five, vocals of the songs that are sung by the Oompa-Loompas in the film. Each number with its scene returns a moral lesson of a corrupted aspect of society. They are not only a specially entertainment but also signify the tale’s crucial moments and lead viewers to the next stage of the film.

Physical appearances are believed to be an important factor in the development of social relations; however, the implications of ominous factor are often hidden in many superficial judgments. This is entirely examined in the initial music number played at the entrance of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Mr. Wonka welcomes the kids and their family member to his “humble factory” with a gleeful mechanical welcoming show. The “Wonka’s Welcome Song” was electronically performed by little plastic puppets with large round weighted eyes and peeled looking skin. The show is delightful, luminous and colourful. The music begins with many children laughter, and continues in jumping rhythm giving the guests a warm cheerful welcoming; but the show ends in small fire caused by the haywire spark of fireworks and the music concludes with a hitch. The welcoming show is not pure entertainment, it indicates though the factory looks bright and joyous, there are certain hidden consequential menaces to be carefully discovered. A cursory glance and jumping to conclusion is actually as old as it is common in today’s society. We knew that objectivity is desirable, and this societal moral value is often controllable as long as conceit or negligence is not taking too much our ego. Otherwise, unknowable consequence might have been lining up next.

This first musical number leads us to this intriguing journey yet threatening chocolate factory; and illustrates how this prelude can form such a profound message.

Apart from the first introducing said number, the later four numbers are performed by the Oompa-Loompas when each of the four repulsive kids is eliminated from the contest. The songs are catchy and easy to remember, the lyrics are closely related to each misbehaved children and summed up each lesson to be learned. The musical numbers act as a recurrent motif protruding the kids’ ill personality traits and at the same time demonstrating how their deadly action leads them meeting their doom.

Let’s have a closer look at the moral lessons in the second part of our review!

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review Part.2

Thank you  for your patience. We are back with the long-waiting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review Part 2.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a marvel of economic visual storytelling (one could mute the sound and understand just as well what is going on) and a super-fast, enjoyable two-hour experience. Disregarding its closer adherence to the source material, however, the film doesn’t even begin to hold a candle next to 1971’s version, which had more naturalistic performances, more thought-provoking moral conflicts for protagonist Charlie to face, stronger and more memorable characterizations of the fellow contestants and their parents, and, overall, a more satisfying tour of the titled whimsical factory. The tour at the center of Burton’s opus—the high spot of the earlier version directed by Mel Stuart—is in some ways the weakest section, always in a rush to get to the next scene, giving Charlie and accompanying adult Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) next to nothing to do and no palpable bond to form, and developing the geography of the factory interiors in a vague, lackluster fashion.

Better are the pint-sized Oompa Loompas (all delectably played by recent Burton regular Deep Roy), who perform a quirky range of musical numbers in different styles—one is a Bollywood production, one is a Beatlesesque ballad, one is a rock-and-roll journey through the land of television programming, and one was inspired by the vaudevillian musicals of the ’30s and ’40s. The lyrics themselves are sometimes difficult to discern, but that doesn’t take much away from the sheer fun and audaciousness that they incorporate into the proceedings.

As the formidable Willy Wonka, whose role, coincidentally, is increased dramatically from the ’71 effort despite a deletion of his name in the title, Johnny Depp (2004’s “Finding Neverland”) is brilliantly wide-eyed and self-deprecating, achieving the impossible by taking a deeply ingrained character synonymous with Gene Wilder in a new and fresh direction. Wonka is actually kinder and gentler here, a naive man still wounded from the hurt in his childhood. What he lacks is Wilder’s soulful humanity and warm heart that shed through in that picture’s final scenes. Depp is simply delicious in a role both broadly comic and lightly touching, but the character’s every action is so plainly written that he doesn’t come off as genuine.

The same could be said for all of the actors playing the contestants’ parents, who are dealing strictly in one-dimensional caricatures, and at least two of the child performers. Newcomer Julia Winter may be a physical dead-ringer for Julie Dawn Cole’s Veruca Salt, but isn’t nearly as convincing or delightfully nasty, while fellow first-timer Jordon Fry is forgettable as Mike Teavee. There are sturdier turns from Annasophia Robb (2005’s “Because of Winn-Dixie”), as determined winner Violet Beauregarde, and novice Philip Wiegratz, as rotund hog Augustus Gloop, but again, the characters haven’t been written with a sharp enough eye to raise them above single dimension.

Playing the protagonist Charlie Bucket, Freddie Highmore (last teaming up with Depp in “Finding Neverland”) is so mild-mannered and adorable that the only negative thing to say about him is that he doesn’t show much range aside from two facial expressions: excited awe and disappointed sadness. As Grandpa Joe, such a powerful presence alongside Charlie in the earlier picture, David Kelly (2004’s “Laws of Attraction”) is so inconsequential as to might as well not even be there. Rounding out the cast are Helena Bonham Carter (2001’s “Planet of the Apes”) and Noah Taylor (2004’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”) as Charlie’s hard-up parents, and Eileen Essel (2003’s “Duplex”) and Liz Smith as kindly grandmas Josephine and Georgina. Smith gets one of the funniest early lines—”I like grapes!”—and can do no wrong after that.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is good enough to stand on its own, but not quite good enough to not be a little wobbly on its feet. Burton is in full force, and blesses the production design and mood with portent atmosphere and colorful aesthetics. Furthermore, the film is sure to enchant audiences of kids and grown-ups even as fans of the original will recognize this version may be different and updated, but is notably inferior. What “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” needs more of is heart, for as lovely as it is to look at and orally experience, it is close to being as emotionally mechanical. The sentiment is there, and there are a few effective isolated moments of such, but it all feels like an empty put-on rather than the genuine article, a clone rather than a real human in celluloid form. Burton has made it clear he does not want to be compared to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” but there’s no way of getting around the notion that it was better on nearly all fronts the first time around.

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A Brief Comparison Between Two Adaptions Of ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’

First, let’s just say that I am a big fan of 1971’s ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and as such I was excited to see this reincarnation too. And I was pleased with the end results as it is perfectly suited for Tim Burton’s sensibilities and he executed the entire movie so well. The first take is better because it is more memorable and far grimmer which is something that this film lacks, but this is still a very respectable movie that isn’t far away from the original’s quality.

I loved Johnny Depp’s performance here, I really did. The haters could argue otherwise, but to me both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp have given us a great Willy Wonka. The former is extremely memorable, entertaining and possessing a dark humor and quality to him and the latter is much less dark, but certainly funnier and more over-the-top and campy. Both are phenomenal and Depp here gave one of his better performances in my opinion as he was just delightful and one of the finest aspects in the movie.

Charlie is again a boring, but still essential character. I liked how the parents got bigger roles this time around and some of them were quite funny. Of the kids, all were great and I loved how each of them met their end. However, what I didn’t like here is a significantly lightweight and family approach to their disqualification scenes and in that area the original film is much more memorable and much more sinister.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a terrific visual experience as is always the case with this particular director’s films. I did appreciate the use of more practical effects in the 1971 version, but this 2005 version benefits from a great use of CGI nonetheless as it looks exceptional and didn’t age at all. I loved that it is more colorful than dark and everything in that factory was absolutely phenomenal and gorgeous to witness.

I loved the humor. Some of the highlights were all of those scenes where the children met their end as well as their introductory scenes, all of those were great. But Wonka is simply hilarious at times and the moment when one of the mothers flirted with him was great with the look on his face being hysterical. He truly is hilarious in this flick.

I really disliked the soundtrack here. It is easily the worst thing in the movie and the only aspect that significantly lowers its quality. Wonka’s Welcome Song is really a lot of fun and so catchy, but every other song is so mediocre and just way too modern for this type of movie. And most of those songs should have been cut off completely as they didn’t bring anything of real substance to the table.

Overall, this movie is one of the better, not the best, but certainly one of the better Tim Burton films. Its tale is well-handled and faithful to the source material and it was unbelievably entertaining and always very involving to watch while also being really well-edited with the structure being deft and the third act being just amazing. I quite loved the dialogue and even though the tone wasn’t as well-handled, the emotion was undoubtedly there and in just the right amount. The flashback structure was pretty good. The first one with the Oompa-Loompas was pretty annoying, but all of the others significantly helped Wonka’s character development and came at just the right time.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a very respectable film that does have its issues such as the lack of a darker tone and a mostly very annoying soundtrack, but the characterization and storytelling are both excellent here, the flashback structure is well handled, the humor is great and the visual effects are expectedly terrific. But Johnny Depp is the most remarkable thing here. Whereas Gene Wilder was more sinister and memorable, Depp is funnier and more campy and ultimately both Willy Wonkas are excellent and both movies are really good with this one being one of the better films from Burton and one of his most underrated.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review Part.1

There is just about no other famous modern moviemaker more perfectly fit for adapting Roald Dahl’s half-dark/half-sweet, part-morality tale/part-cautionary fable “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” than Tim Burton.

Burton, whose sparkling credits include 1988’s “Beetlejuice,” 1989’s “Batman,” 1990’s “Edward Scissorhands,” and 1999’s “Sleepy Hollow,” does weird, oddball, and off-kilter with more joyous aplomb than anyone, and his ongoing collaborations with ingenious music composer Danny Elfman have never disappointed in evoking a specific mood and haunting allure to the pictures’ sound, tone and visuals. Within the mere instant the Warner Bros. logo appears on screen to the first strings of Elfman’s thrilling, fittingly peculiar score, there is no question we are safe and sound back in common Tim Burton territory, made all the more indelible with a stupendous opening credits sequence that takes the viewer on a trip through Wonka’s process of creating, wrapping, boxing, and sending out his chocolate bars.

From there the picture begins proper, and while screenwriter John August (2003’s “Big Fish”) was instructed to solely adapt Dahl’s novel rather than the previous cinematic rendering, they are similar enough in story and events that it is difficult not to compare 2005’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The latter has grown to become such an iconic treasure that even now, almost thirty-five years later, children (and adults who were children years ago) are still head-over-heels in love with it. For myself, that immortal Gene Wilder classic was and remains one of the most affectionately felt films from my childhood, a positively horrific family feature complete with a chicken getting its head chopped off, kids in grave danger, a spooky gated factory presumed abandoned, a sinister man named Wonka, and, lo and behold, a worthwhile message and an underlying sweetness to match the chocolatey confections on display throughout.

In its own way, Burton’s reimagining, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is just as occasionally creepy and menacing, and ultimately even more of an emotional sugar rush by the feel-good last scenes. It follows the book to a more faithful degree, even touching upon flashback sequences to the jungle where Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) discovered the community of Oompa Loompas and to India where Wonka was asked by Prince and Princess Pindicherry (Nitin Ganatra, Shelley Conn) to build a palace made completely out of chocolate. The demise of spoiled brat Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) has been changed back from golden geese (in the 1971 movie) to a run-in with vicious nut-cracking squirrels. Gone are the original songs, replaced by the lyrics of the song-and-dance routines with the Oompa Loompas copied almost verbatim from Dahl’s own words. A totally original creation, meanwhile, are the sad and disturbing glimpses back to Willy’s childhood, depicting his rocky relationship with an anti-candy dentist father named Wilbur Wonka (Christopher Lee) and his own decision to make the great-tasting sweets his life’s work. These keys to Willy’s identity are the most welcome fresh additions, beautifully written and visually diverse as they work to clarify who the mysterious inventor was, where he comes from, and who he ultimately became.

The premise itself remains the same. Top-secret candy maker Willy Wonka, whose factory doors have been shut for years, suddenly opens up the world’s imagination (and thirst for chocolate) when he makes an announcement: five golden tickets have been placed under the wrappers of Wonka bars across the globe, and the five children who find them will be allowed a tour of his factory. There will also be a grand prize winner, who will win something beyond their wildest imagination. When, by chance, poor, virtuous Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) finds the last remaining golden ticket with money he finds laying on the street, his dreams have already begun to come true before he has even met the host of the tour. Once behind the doors of the factory, the tour gets underway. By the time the day is out, only one child will remain, the other four—foodaholic Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), gum-chewing enthusiast Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), greedy Veruca Salta, and television/video game-obsessed Mike Teavee (Jordon Fry)—being done in by their own vanity, materialism, gluttony, and competitiveness.
Stay tuned to our the final part of our film review coming up shortly!

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Burton’s Charlie is more than just a capitalization on the current trend of remakes, re-workings and re-imagining

It’s been ages since I’ve seen the 1971 movie version of Dahl’s book directed by Mel Stuart and starring an unforgettable Gene Wilder in the main role. Many scoffed at the mere suggestion of another take on what is considered, by many, to be nothing less than holy ground.

When Tim Burton was said to be the director and Johnny Depp will play Willy Wonka, I knew there was hope. I can’t really imagine a better combination for this kind of fantasy tale. Depp and Burton make a great team, responsible for one of my most beloved movies of recent years, Ed Wood. The early trailers showed Depp looking merely manic as Wonka with big, bright beaming white teeth and a perpetual smile against a pale, almost purple facial tone. I dug it.

The film is a tale about a young boy living in a small, very humble home, with his loving parents and four grandparents. Charlie Bucket (played by Freddie Highmore) lives near the huge and mystical Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, in which Charlie’s Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) once worked, but also which no one has seen the inside of for a long time. No one even knows for sure what Wonka (Johnny Depp) looks like any more or who, in fact, is helping him to make all that candy. One day Willy Wonka says that he will be giving out five golden tickets inside the wrappers of his own Wonka Chocolate bars. The result is a mad dash around the world to locate these tickets. Young Charlie, who can only have one chocolate bar a year, is aware that his chances is slim, but he holds out hope and, low and behold, little Charlie finally does land the shiny, gold ticket. His Grandpa Joe accompanies Charlie on the magical adventure through the factory that is the envy of just about every other kid in the world. The other children include Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb) and Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry). Deep Roy plays each and every single Oompa-Loompa and Christopher Lee portrays Willy Wonka’s father, Dr. Wonka.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a profound success. It’s colorful, magical and fun. Children at my screening were laughing with joy and I even found myself (in somewhat of a cynical mood) swept away into the encapsulating and amazing world Tim Burton has created. Burton definitely known how to create incredibly nuanced, unforgettable worlds filled with visual style and his always distinctive personal touches, but he has merely outdone himself with Charlie. The world he has built is so surreal, like a vivid cartoon come to life.

Is it weird, you might ask? My answer is a resounding yes. The original movie has gained somewhat of notoriety over the years for being a perennial favorite movie to watch should one choose to partake in certain substances during said viewing. All I say is that this Charlie is a quite trippy ride when viewed fully sober. I can only picture how the dashes of colors and Depp’s pasty-faced, dark smile would look in that state. Stoners everywhere rejoice. You have a new addition to your DVD shelf.

Johnny Depp can do anything. I’m convinced of it. Taking his Ed Wood persona and signifying it times about a million, Depp turns into Willy Wonka. This isn’t a take on Gene Wilder’s performance, but a brand new beast. Wilder created and defined the role and Depp redefines it in a new way. His Wonka is more psychotic, more evil, but he’s got a heart somewhere deep within that crazy exterior. Depp steals the show and makes it look effortless. He is out of control and bizarre. I was with him from the get-go. By the end, any time Depp flashed those pearlys and that goofy smile, I was rolling.

The magic of Dahl’s story is that it transports you to another place and Burton’s new film captures that in almost every sense. From the opening scenes introducing us to the Bucket family (a Burton-esque sideway formed Gothic house) and on through to the remarkable reveal of the Factory, this is not reality and it never wants to be. The Chocolate Factory has been built up so much in the tale that the appearance becomes a character in itself. The Factory simply must be amazing; the story rests on it. Anything less and everything else will crumble around it. Burton and his design team have created a magical, memorable world that, like the factory portrayed in the film itself, is a magical wonderland real world children would dream of visiting. I can’t give details because there’s no describing it. It’s a little bit of the 1971 film, but even more colorful and amped up.

The most fascinating part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that it borders on being a straight up horror film for children. Depp’s Wonka is demented and potentially a bit scary for younger kids. His motives are unclear for much of the movie and his utter and complete joy as the horror of child and parental disappearances unfold is a bit unsettling. Deep Roy’s Oompa-Loompas are, in a word, disturbing. Expressionless, tiny little worker bees, their presense is always a little unsettling. In the long run, it’s all in good fun, but kids too young to get the joke may be seeing Depp’s glowing white teeth and Deep Roy’s terrifically weird Oompa-Loompas dancing and singing in their nightmares.

The effects work, such as a chocolate waterfall and a chocolate river rapids sequence, is mostly very good. The biggest fault of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that the CG is overdone. This is a complaint I have a lot with modern films, particularly of the mainstream big budget variety. I’ve kinda gotten used to it and Charlie’s CG work is good by comparison, but there’s just too much of it and when I immediately notice CG work, it annoys me. Great CG should be indistinguishable, but it almost never is. An opening credit sequence shows chocolate being made within the machines. It looks cool but it feels unnecessary. They do it only because they can do it, but if CG were not an option, I think a more creative intro could have been developed using practical effects. Christopher Nolan proved that you can make a big film without effects earlier this summer with Batman Begins, and I hope more directors follow his lesson.

Fans and critics alike have criticized this effort before viewing for the mere audacity of attempting to do another take on Dahl’s work when Stuart did it so well in the first place. Burton’s Charlie is more than just a capitalization on the current trend of remakes, re-workings and re-imagining. Burton had a new vision of Dahl’s work, a new take on Wonka and a new take on the children – he makes it all work grandly. Although this is very rarely the case, both films are great and they compliment each other perfectly. Both feature great performances, big laughs and a wild, fantastic world that is a feast for the eyes.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its original mood, manner, and visualization from the novel (Part 2)

Welcome back to our review on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Let’s continue on with the film’s story with us, shall we?

Meanwhile, Willy Wonka leads the indulged life of, well, Michael Jackson in Neverland.  The idea that both the late King of Pop and Wonka seem to share in common is that neither one was afforded a happy childhood.  But in adulthood, they possess the will and the wealth to rectify that mistake; to recreate the childhood they wished they had. To indulge themselves, in other words.  Such wealth puts Wonka in a different social class from Charlie, who has no time to focus on his childhood, only the vicissitudes of day-to-day survival: a hole in the roof, and cabbage soup again for dinner.  Wonka is a lonely figure — a Burton outsider and misfit — but he is rich enough to build a world around him; one that answers only to his demands and desires.  Charlie can’t do that.

Additionally, Wonka has surrounded himself with the Oompa Loompas, small “men” who all look identical to one another, and toil for cocoa beans, rather than for a living wage.  Wonka brought them back from the “wild,” and this facet of the story is certainly an allegory for the First World’s colonial exploitation of the Third.  It’s also notable that the Oompa Loompas all “look alike” and aren’t exactly treated as individual people.

Significantly, they dance in the geometric, kaleidoscopic, uniform fashion favored by Busby Berkeley in his Depression-Era films, and that’s important too.  The Oompa Loompas act (and dance) as “one” and don’t concern themselves with personal wealth: they are a collective.

Again, it’s important to recall that Berkeley made his splash in Depression Age films such as 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, and that his choreography was said to eschew failed American “individualism” (capitalism?) in favor of the concerns of “the collective.”  In other words, the Chorus Girls dancing in a Berkeley musical number were all part of a larger pattern or ideal, unimportant alone but powerful as a network or “whole.”  The Oompa Loompas are presented in that very fashion here, and hence as an antidote or remedy to the overt, out-of-control capitalism we see described in the film, embodied by acts of corporate espionage and sabotage.

If you couple the Dickensian landscapes (incessant snowfall, extreme poverty, smoke-spewing factories) with the Busby Berkeley musical flouishes (championing the collective nature of collaboration in Wonka’s factory), with Dahl’s tale of a “good” boy who inherits the Factory — the means of production — what you start to see emerge on-screen is a tale depicting the failure of capitalism and the importance of “community.”  For what does Charlie, in the end bring to Willy Wonka — the iconoclastic loner — but an acceptance and understanding of family; the root “community” of human society and civilization?

Even the film’s narration describes Charlie in terms which  heighten the social critique against out-of-control capitalism.  The narrator suggests:

“This is a story of an ordinary little boy named Charlie Bucket. He was not quicker, or stronger, or wittier than other kids. He doesn’t come from a wealthy or powerful or well-connected family; in fact, they barely had enough to eat.”

What are Charlie’s prized characteristics?  Well, he’s loyal to his family, he shares with them his resources (his candy bar and his love…), and he believes that when he succeeds, they all succeed.  Given this description, in conjunction with the trenchant visuals, it’s not a stretch to view the film as a rebuke of western culture’s long-standing ideals and myths surrounding rugged individualism and boot-strap-ism (or “entrepreneurship.”)

Indeed, this boy succeeds not by being the smartest, fastest or strongest, or by being the son of a rich man, but by simply being decent and responsible to those around him; by having a sense of himself in relation to others.

Powerfully, Burton’s film also notes the extreme unfairness of  out-of-control capitalism, namey that it does not reward those who do good, but rather those who already possess resources.  “The kids who are going to find the golden tickets are the ones who can afford to buy candy bars every day,” says Grandpa Joe. “Our Charlie gets only one a year. He doesn’t have a chance.”   That’s the problem: the deck is stacked against those without by power by those who already possess it.

Outside the withering critique of capitalism, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a cautionary tale for parents.  Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee are negative examples to learn from.  They reveal to audiences what happens when parents fail in their sacred duty to raise decent human beings.  Gloop is a glutton, Salt an indulged brat, Violet an empty-headed “winner” who has to be the best at everything she does, and Teavee an emotionally disconnected know-it-all.   And although the film punishes the children for their offenses, it does not view them as the real bad guys, as the Oompa Loompa song for Veruca clearly points out:

“Who went and spoiled her / Who indeed? Who pandered to her every need? / Who turned her into such a spoilt kid? / Who are the culprits, who did that? / The guilty ones – now this is sad / Are dear old mum and loving dad.”

What we see here is a kind of “sins of the father” dynamic.  The parents are the ones at fault for raising monsters, and yet it is the children who ultimately suffer for actually being monsters.  This is a dynamic that, as the father of an only child, I grapple with just about every day.  How much indulgence is too much indulgence, in terms of child rearing?  Where’s the line between a happy child and a spoiled one?  Cross that line, and the child…and the world suffer.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — both the source novel and the film — deal with the very real idea that parents can all too easily transform their children into brats.  They can do it by obsessing on winning (a variation of competing, which goes back to the capitalism angle); by turning them over to the tender lessons of commercial television, or by indulging their every appetite, no holds barred.   I confess, this is the very reason why the Dahl book has always appealed to me on such a gut level: the idea that kids, if we aren’t careful, are little Frankenstein Monsters that we make and then set loose into the world.

The film adaptation by Burton goes the extra and perhaps even genius step, of suggesting that Willy Wonka is one of these Frankenstein Monsters all gorwn up.  His father, a cruel dentist played by Christopher Lee, turned him into what he is: a snide, family-hating Michael Jackson/Howard Hughes-like recluse; someone who can’t meaningfully connect to other human beings.  Optimistically, the film’s conclusion suggests that Wonka will be “adopted” by (and thus re-parented) by Charlie’s humble and nurturing family, and that this particular monster can be un-made.

Some critics have suggested there’s something a bit sadistic about both the book and the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I don’t disagree, but sometimes a little so-called “sadism” is good for the soul.  It’s good to know that the wicked and the corrupt and the gluttonous and the entitled eventually get punished for their misdeeds, and that occasionally — just occasionally — someone of stout heart and gentle tendencies can win out over the wealthy, the connected, the loud, and the powerful.

As I wrote above, Burton’s 2005 film — filling in the gap in Wonka’s backstory — actually improves the nature of Dahl’s story.  It reveals to us that Wonka is human and flawed, and even a bit monstrous too.  He’s not a perfect creature standing in judgment of “bad” children here, but rather an imperfect, flawed being himself.  I like that interpretation, because it suggests that a child wounded will, as an adult, wound others.  And it also suggests that it’s never too late to care about someone, and help them be better.

Wonka doesn’t get away with being a monster in this version of the classic Dahl tale, and I like that. It defuses the “sadistic” label the book has acquired over the years.

People who live in glass elevators, after all, shouldn’t throw stones…

Thank you for sticking with us through our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory review. Don’t forget to share us your thoughts on the film in the comment section down below!

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its original mood, manner, and visualization from the novel (Part 1)

Since it was published in America in 1964, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) has become a classic of children’s literature.  The book is still assigned reading in many middle school and high school curricula and has spawned two film adaptations, 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Tim Burton’s 2005 fantasy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


Although Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has become a generational touchstone for kids raised in the 1970s (myself included), the recent Tim Burton adaptation is, surprisingly, far more faithful to the Roald Dahl novel in terms of mood, manner, and visualization.  As is the case in the Dahl book, the 2005 film deftly critiques both capitalist society — which creates a vast gulf between the economic well-being of Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket — and the mores of contemporary child-rearing.


On the second conceptual front, the Tim Burton movie has updated many of Dahl’s satirical flourishes for 21st century consumption, turning Mike Teavee into a video game-a-holic and Violet Beauregard into a pre-adolescent over-achiever.  But despite such minor updates, the intent of both works remains to hold up a mirror to society at large and address something seemingly flawed in the prevailing social structure.  Naturally, both book and movie accomplish this task in entertaining fashion, as a seemingly “harmless” fairy tale meant for kids.

Like Dahl, Burton is an expert in the creation of fantastic and grotesque worlds, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory provides him ample opportunity to showcase his stellar, off-beat imagination.  Dahl’s slapstick humor, and exaggerated settings — namely an impossibly bizarre factory interior — thus find new life in Burton’s audacious visualizations, which critic Peter Bradshaw accurately described as conveying  “a retro Day-Glo 1960s” vibe.

Furthermore, Burton’s fascinating addition of a Willy Wonka back-story represents the director’s stylistic personalization or interpretation of the source material, and functions in some sense, even, as an improvement over the novel’s story.  In particular,  Burton gives Willy “father” issues, and this aspect of the movie plays perfectly into the social criticism of modern-day parenting underlining the entire affair.


It’s easy to gaze at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and see only a colorful kiddie flick, a silly, inconsequential fantasy, but in this entertaining film, Burton has retained so much of what made Dahl’s work unique, and, in fact, added something to the experience.  He’s done so by co-opting the literary imagery of Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and even the choreographic style of Busby Berkeley (1895-1976).   In toto, the film is another remarkable triumph for the director, and I must admit, I wasn’t expecting the film to be so damned good.

As critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote in Salon: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film couldn’t have emerged from anywhere but the dark, chambered nautilus of Burton’s imagination — in its best parts, it’s magically deranged in a way no other moviemaker could even come close to nailing it.”

Magically deranged.  That about says it all.

“You can’t run a chocolate factory with a family hanging over you like an old, dead goose.”

In Charlie The Chocolate Factory 2005 movie, eccentric candy-maker Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) has distributed five golden tickets to visit his factory in the unusual and delicious Wonka candy bars.   This act sets off a world-wide search for the five elusive tickets.

The first ticket is found by an obese glutton, Augustus Gloop (Philip Weigratz).  The second is “procured” by a millionaire-industrialist for his indulged daughter, Veruca Salt (Julia Winter).  The third ticket is found by a gum-chewing over-achiever, Violet Beauregard (Annasophia Robb) and the fourth by a smart-aleck video-game aficionado, Mike Teavee (Adam Godley).

Rather unexpectedly, the final ticket falls into the hands of the modest and kind Charlie Bucket (Freddy Highmore), a boy who lives in poverty in a ramshackle house on the outskirts of town with his parents and grandparents.  At first, Charlie decides to sell the ticket to pay for food because his father has recently lost his job, but Charlie’s grandpa, Joe (David Kelly) convinces him he should keep it.

Together, Grandpa Joe and Charlie meet Willy Wonka at the factory, and tour the various rooms of his amazing candy factory.  These include The Chocolate Room, the Inventing Room, the Nut Room, and the TV Room.

In each room, one of the young visitors falls prey to a strange industrial accident. Augustus Gloop is sucked up into a giant chocolate pipe (or straw?).  Violet is turned into a giant blueberry after sampling Wonka’s experimental three-course-meal-chewing gum, Veruca is tossed down a garbage chute in the Nut Room, and Mike Teavee is sucked into a television…then shrunken down to size by the experience.  In all instances, Wonka’s bizarre workers, the Oompa-Loompas (Deep Roy) sing songs about the fallen children.

In the end, Charlie is the only child to remain standing on the entire tour, and Wonka reveals he would like him to be his heir.  The only catch: Charlie must do it alone; without the family who helped get him here…

“Candy doesn’t have to have a point. That’s why it’s candy.”

Candy doesn’t need to have a point, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 2005 movie certainly makes a few.

In his artistic selections, Burton enhances the novel’s social critique of runaway, out-of-control capitalism.

In particular, Burton opens Charlie The Chocolate Factory film with a truly Dickension flourish by showcasing a wintry, industrial city where a vast gulf exists between the wealthy and the poor.  Charlie lives in little more than a hovel, and watches as his father loses his job in the local toothpaste factory.  The Wonka factory dominates the landscape, both a foreboding and mysterious place.

A proponent of social reform himself, Charles Dickens’ satires often showcased the hardships of the working class in London, and pointed out the anti-human and inhumane nature of big industry during his time.  Like Dahl, Dickens is well-known for his black humor and colorfully-named characters, as well. What Burton achieves here so brilliantly is the fanciful merging of the two artists.  He enhances Dahl’s words with imagery of poverty, industry and inequality right out of Oliver Twist.  Of course, there’s also a modern spin on the idea of runaway industry since automation at the factory is the thing that puts both Mr. Bucket and Grandpa Joe out of work.  This aspect of the film certainly speaks to our national context today, in the era of the one percenters and the 99ers.

Look forward to reading the second part of our review on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wasn’t made for the family to watch

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie wasn’t made for the family to watch. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is far more enjoyable than the 2005’s take

All this is irrelevant, of course, to the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory except that it’s amazing that, amid the tumult of movie-making, Joel, Christine, Lillian, Joel’s parents and I all took a little break at the local multiplex to see it. The general reaction was positive, with Joel’s parents by far the most pleased.

Read more (minor spoilers)…This movie could more accurately be called The Passion of the Wonka. I agree with Adam and Sam that, after the trifecta of Tim Burton, screenwriter John August and composer Danny Elfman have done such an excellent job in the first act creating the world of the film and investing us in Charlie’s dreams, they allow Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie to be rudely invaded by Johnny Depp’s Dr. Evil-esque Willy Wonka.

Certainly Burton and Depp have been up front that they wanted to go 180 degrees away from Gene Wilder’s famous performance in the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a film that, despite its faults and name, managed to convey more of the wonder experienced by Charlie Bucket. Neither film, it seems, could stay faithful to Roald Dahl’s cherished classic.

This Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is constantly interrupted for flashbacks to a newly-invented backstory that makes Wonka the son of a brooding dentist. In keeping with the film’s reflexive post-modern humor, Depp even acknowledges that he’s “having flashbacks”. While some of that humor, not in the original book, worked very well — the hall of flags joke, the 2001: A Space Odyssey homage — the old addage about calling attention to your faults does not excuse them still applies. If the movie is supposed to be about Charlie, then Wonka’s own dramatic arc should not take up more screen time. If I learned one thing about screenwriting at NYU, it’s that.

Joel said the ending turned into Big Fish, which is funny, because John August also wrote that screenplay and Tim Burton also directed that movie. Freud and his daddy issues live on. Meanwhile, Danny Elfman’s score holds its own against the memorable 1971 movie’s. He, at least, is able to evoke the previous film without making you wish you were watching it instead.

If all of this sounds like I don’t like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, it shouldn’t. I’m rough on Burton, August and Depp because I love them. The movie is well worth seeing, if only for the scene where Veruca Salt meets her demise at the hands of some discriminating squirrels. Maybe it’s just childhood nostalgia but, forced to choose between the two film versions, I would take 1971’s. If you throw the book into the mix, I’d choose that over both of them.

There are few movies that I watch every time they are rerun on TBS. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of those movies. So you can understand my initial hesitation when I heard that it was remade and released as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a story about purity and the idea that good things will eventually go to the deserving. A basic feel-good movie. This movie carries on the feeling of its predecessor, only in a slightly more bizarre way. The movie is very dark and quirky. I almost felt as if Tim Burton (the director) used the “Batman” set for this movie. He must have had the music soundtrack of “Batman” laying around too because it is dark and ominous as well.

What livens Charlie and the Chocolate Factory up is the, once again brilliant, performance by Johnny Depp. Without a doubt this man is one the top performer of our times. He plays an eccentric, lonely and obviously off-kilter Willie Wonka to a tee. How strange of man Mr. Wonka truly is. He reminded me of Edward Scissorhands, only without the scissors.

The rest of the movie is relatively fun to watch. In one scene, they actually trained squirrels to open walnuts for the movie! The Oompa Loompas are always a welcome treat too, even if their songs aren’t as fun as in the original.

Personally, I would recommend one to see Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It is far more light-hearted to watch. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wasn’t made for the family to watch. Instead it was made for Tim Burton to do another exercise in creating strange, dark worlds inhabited by strange, dark people.

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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory 2005 movie: The iconic novel made into big-screen twice!

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory 2005 movie from Roald Dahl’s novels have entertained and entranced children and their imaginations for years. Several successful films have been made based on his works, but the most recognisable Dahl adaptation has to be the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, based on his 1964 novel, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

The story of a poor boy who, with the help of winning a golden ticket into the world’s most wonderful and bizarre chocolate factory, has all of his dreams come true is a staple in moviedom. The 1971 film’s script was written by Dahl himself.

In 2005, director Tim Burton released his own take on the classic tale under the book’s title, keeping his story closer to the source material. Many of the changes the 2005 adaption made from the 1971 one were done to reflect Charlie And The Chocolate Factory novel. This version looks more into Wonka’s personal past and tackles the issues of his odd neuroses. The characters in the two movie adaptions, particularly the two central characters of Willy Wonka and Charlie, are very different.

But which is truer to the source? And which is better?

We’ll look at Charlie first. The Charlie in the Burton movie better captures the innocence and purity of the character Dahl originally wrote. The one in the 1971 movie still has that wide-eyed amazement the character should dream of, but he also appears as a whiny jerk at times. Remember when he tricked his entire family into thinking he’d won a Golden Ticket on his birthday? What’s more is that the actor’s lack of a singing voice almost sinks the iconic I’ve Got A Golden Ticket song. …Almost!

The other contest winners vary in terms of translation. Augustus Gloop is exactly the same in every version (not really much to alter there). Veruca Salt is always incessant and spoilt little brat, though in the Burton movie, she does it more with puppy-dog eyes and passive aggression than the constant whining she puts forth in the 1971 movie.

Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee undergo more drastic changes in the remake. In 1971, Violet was a blabbermouth and Mike was into nothing but spaghetti Westerns; in 2005, Violet was a serial winner and Mike was into violent video games and mathematics. The updated versions of the kids was a really good idea, and it worked well with the change in times.

Mike’s character cause a strange problem, though: He looks too much like a normal child at times. Sure, he’s always frowning and destructive, and he still deserves his comeuppance at the end, but because he shows glimpses of real intelligence, he seems like he could be redeemable. Charlie is supposed to stand out by being the sole truly human one. The Burton movie almost loses it there.

Burton’s unique style also brings up some unique flaws in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory story. The constantly grim atmosphere and slanted architecture sweeps away the subtle creepiness of the tale, placing it instead right smack in the forefront. Part of the genius of Dahl’s work was that, while everything that was written felt whimsical and fantastic, actually thinking about what was happening to the kids and to the world at the whole during the search for the Golden Ticket was rather scary.

For children, it’s just a nice little fable; for grownups, it can be a bit haunting. This type of subtlety is more prevalent in the 1971 movie, where the horrors are underplayed by the happy-go-lucky tones of the Oompa-Loompa songs and the whole aloofness of Wonka himself, right up until the horrifying moment when the boat gets into the tunnel.

Which brings us at last to the two versions of Willy Wonka. The 1971 film had Gene Wilder, whose biggest role to this point had been in The Producers. Wilder’s Willy Wonka is sarcastic, strange and more of an adult than the Wonka in Dahl’s novel, who more or less comes across as an overgrown child. But Wilder makes one forget everything about the original character; he is charming and witty, and though he plays a more toned-down version, you never forget his presence. It’s a defining role for him.

It being a Tim Burton work, the Charlie And The Chocolate Factory 2005 film of course casts Johnny Depp as the chocolate maker. He plays it with more of a childlike aura, but in a Michael Jackson sort of way, with awkward social skills and a very quiet personality. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory film makes the tale more about Wonka’s quest toward accepting family than it is of Charlie’s rags to riches, and it just doesn’t work as good as the 1971 version.

Every time the story dips into flashbacks of Wonka’s childhood, the rest of the story has to grind to a halt to let Burton do his thing. And while Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka isn’t necessarily bad, after seeing what Wilder did in making the character iconic, it just can’t match.

So while the 2005 version’s plot might be truer to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory book, the 1971 version captures its spirit, which is far more important.

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There’s a dark side to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s fun

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 2005 film review: If there is any living director who can do the right to the warped nature of Roald Dahl’s “kids’ tales,” it’s Tim Burton. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn’t the first time these two have “collaborated.”

Burton produced Henry Selick’s animated James and the Giant Peach, but this time he’s in the director’s chair, with his favorite star in the camera’s crosshairs. Although this film is an adaptation of one of Dahl’s most beloved stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory seems like Burton through-and-through – from the bits and pieces cut from Edward Scissorhands to a conclude that hearkens back to the theme of father-and-son affection from Big Fish.

Let me dispense with the obvious comparison immediately: this version is more faithful and substantive than Mel Stuart’s foppish 1971 production, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Somehow – perhaps because many of my generation saw this annually on TV during our youths – that overrated motion picture has become a classic. Dahl hated it, and it’s no wonder why: the edgy became genial, Willy Wonky was transformed into a father figure, and the Oompa Loompas sang lame songs (okay, so one or two of those tunes are catchy). In making Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film, Burton rubs shoulders with Stuart’s movie and returns to the novel. The result is faithful enough to have earned the Dahl family’s seal of approval.

As the movie opens, we learn that Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp), the famous candy-maker recluse, has hidden golden tickets inside the wrappers of five of the millions of Wonka candy bars sold around the world. Those lucky enough to achieve them will be granted a tour to the Wonka candy work – the largest chocolate factory in the world. Gradually, the winners are revealed.

The first is Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz), a pig of a boy who considers chocolate to be his primary food group. The second is Veruca Salt (Julia Winter), the most spoiled girl in England. Her pantywaist father (Edward Fox) denies her nothing. Winner #3 is Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb), an overachiever who turns mundane activities into contests she must win.

The fourth is Mike Teavee (Jordon Fry), a super-intelligent video game addict who thinks the world revolves around the television and electronics. Finally, winner #5 is Londoner Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a poor boy who uses his last money to buy the winning candy bar. Accompanied by his grandfather, Joe (played by David Kelly) arrives at the Willy Wonka chocolate factory at the appointed hour, ready to start the tour.

The inside of Willy Wonka’s factory is like a warped version of Disneyworld crossed with Oz. There are chocolate waterfalls and flying glass elevators. All of the work is done by the all-well-known Oompa Loompas (played by Deep Roy, who is replicated by CGI), who never once sing anything about “dippity-doo.” However, they do sing… and dance.

Their numbers vary from rock to Bollywood while using music by Danny Elfman and lyrics from Dahl’s book. Whether you like hate them, the musical numbers don’t last long, so this puts Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film in the category of a fractured fairy tale, not a musical. Still, there’s plenty of satire and wit in these songs – most of which will go over the heads of children in the audience.

The picture’s message is positive – overindulgence and selfishness are bad – but it is delivered in a rather shocking way as, one-by-one, Charlie’s companions suffer cruel fates. All’s well that end’s well, I suppose, but there’s a moment when it looks like Violet is going to become Tim Burton’s answer to Monty Python’s infamous Mr. Creosote. (She doesn’t, for certain, as this is a PG-rated film.) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a family movie, but it is off the beaten track. It’s grimmer than Wonka, and the gaudy set decoration and special effects are way ahead of what they were 34 years ago.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wonka is creepy. This is the kind of man one wouldn’t feel safe leaving a child alone with. Every once in a while, he says something unexpected. Consider, for instance, his introduction to a room in his work: “Everything in this room is edible. Even me. But that is called cannibalism, and it’s frowned upon in most societies.”

Does Depp’s Willy Wonka make you think of Michael Jackson? Without question, and some of the mannerisms are so similar that it’s impossible to believe it’s a coincidence. Depp and Burton have claimed that the portrayal reflected both Howard Hughes and Edward Scissorhands, and it’s not hard to notice those influences, as well. In fact, Burton pays tribute to his earlier film in a sequence in which Wonka is shown carrying a pair of large scissors to cut a ribbon.

Young Freddie Highmore acquits himself perfectly as Charlie, and what he achieves here may help to dispel the memory of Peter Ostrum’s horrendous acting in the same role more than three decades ago. This is Highmore’s second consecutive feature with Johnny Depp – the two were in Finding Neverland. The supporting cast is filled out nicely.

Helena Bonham Carter (Burton’s current off-screen leading lady) and Noah Taylor play Charlie’s parents. And long-time Irish character actor David Kelly plays Grandpa Joe. Kelly has enjoyed a long and fruitful career, with recent international screen roles in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory films like Waking Ned Devine and The Matchmaker, but he may be best-known as the infamous Mr. O’Reilly from John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers.

The blend of the gothic and the jaunty makes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory an occasionally topsy-turvy ride. In terms of how it works, it’s not unlike Little Shop of Horrors, the musical comedy about murder, mayhem, and a giant Venus Fly Trap. There’s a dark side to that movie’s fun, as well. (Both films feature a shot from inside a mouth as a dentist performs a procedure.) By adding a subplot about Willy and his father, Burton gives his lead character and the story an added emotional component. It’s hard to say what fans of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory will think of this installment – many of the original elements are the same, but the “feel” is entirely different. Lovers of Dahl’s book, however, will almost certainly appreciate what Burton has wrought.