Visually-spectacular in cinematography & imaginative world-building by equally-eccentric genius Tim Burton while phenomenally-cast/developed from Highmore’s Charlie to Depp’s supple, rosy Wonka, CATCF is a glorious reinterpretation – despite poor-taste quirks. 8.5/10
Plot Synopsis: Based on the beloved Roald Dahl tale, this comedic and fantastical film follows young Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) and his Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) as they join a small group of contest winners who get to tour the magical and mysterious factory of eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp). Aided by his diminutive Oompa Loompa workers (Deep Roy), Wonka has a hidden motivation for the tour, one that he will reveal only after the children in the group show their true colors.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Official CLC Review
Visually spectacular in cinematography & imaginative world-building by equally-eccentric perfect-match Tim Burton & phenomenally-cast from Highmore’s Charlie to Depp’s supple, rosy Wonka fitting in a sweet family-centered message too, despite some appallingly poor-taste quirks, this Dahl candyland rendition is one of the almost nonexistent remakes that’s actually better than the original. This truly exemplifies the fantasy/adventure genre if there ever was a film, with iconic director Tim Burton delivering an uber-imaginative worldscape only he could. The visuals are absolutely jaw-dropping from the chilly, snow and smog-laden city streets of normalcy to the eye-popping green and swirly-red gumdrop and chocolate river-lined candyscapes – truly a wonder to behold.
Beyond that, the narrative is also sweet delivering a heart-warming family message rewrite of the original’s ending, much more fine-tuned and better-executed parental lessons revising the child horror-like heavy-handed condescension tone of the original (and better-executed prideful and braggadocios Violet and video-game/know-it-all Teavee), and development of even Wonka himself as well as Charlie leading to a much more satisfying and all-encompassing final product and study of the man under the top-hat. Finally, the castings are absolute perfection from a much more believable, grounded, and range-full Charlie by Freddie Highmore (proving his talent shown here was not a fluke going on to conquer everything from one of the toughest roles in cinema in Norman Bates to The autistic Good Doctor) to the much brattier and off-putting children and their parents, to Johnny Depp’s iconic, supple, rosier interpretation of Wonka (complete with eccentricity, depth, and a quirky laugh it’s impossible not to smile at).
I cannot believe I’m saying it, but I even prefer Depp’s to Gene Wilder’s legendary original. There is only one real flaw, but a decision so unspeakably vile and borderline-unforgivable I cannot believe it actually got greenlit by a major motion picture studio and filmmaking team: the Oompa Loompa rewrite. How DARE they insinuate and draw a direct line/correlation between Oompa Loompas and Native Americans – one of the most stunningly atrocious, white superiority/saviorship-fueled, and blatantly racist things I’ve ever seen in a picture of this magnitude, and one you know there were dark souls behind with the addition of another slight inclusion of animal cruelty for good measure with the ‘whipping cream’ quirk absolutely wrong and disgusting. Maybe the writers or whoever was behind these needed a trip to Wonka’s and parental realignment as a kids too.
Overall, while that lingering undertone of racism/white-knighting does hit a sour note on the palette requiring serious forgiveness to overlook, this Willy Wonka reboot is absolutely sublime as a film with otherworldly imaginative storytelling and direction by the perfect-marriage Burton, much more carefully-crafted character development and lighter (but equally effective) parental message, a cleaner narrative, and phenomenal performances led by Charlie’s truly pure/innocent Charlie and Depp’s show-stealing rosy/supply Wonka and the definitive (closer to the source material) adaptation of Dahl’s work and this candyland story.
Official CLC Score: 8.5/10