Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Willy Wonka in Full Force

Have yall seen the latest trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Unlike the insanely frenetic teaser trailer, this one tries to give us an actual sense of what the story will be like.

I will say this,in terms of the visuals that we gets glimpses of from this trailer, everything looks pretty amazing. The outside shots of Wonka's factory look wonderfully grim yet mischievious, hinting at the wonderful secrets that lay inside which each puff of white smoke that funnels out of its steampipes. The shot of all those little Tokyo school children rushing into the candy store looks great. The shots of London look appropriately grim and gothically Tim Burton. I also think everything inside the factory looks pretty fantastic, like the nuts and squirrels and the oompa loompas. The only thing that's slightly disappointing for me is the part of the factory where they first enter that surrounds the chocolate river. That seems like almost a replica of the set from the '71 version. I would have thought Tim Burton would have wanted to do his own interpretation of that area instead of using imagery already so familiar to us.

The little kiddie actors all seemed pretty good. Freddie Highmore, who plays Charlie Bucket, and was also in Finding Neverland with Depp. He's a little too puppy dog eyed for my taste, but I suppose that's what the role calls for. I think my favorite from the trailer is Annaaophia Robb, who plays Violet Beauregarde. I always thought Violet was more fun than Veruca because she doesn't just play spoiled rich girl, and has a tad more dimension to her character.

It's Johnny Depp's portrayal of Wonka that I still can't quite get my head around. Sure, I think Depp is a terrific actor who has a tremendous body of work he can be proud of. But he's no Gene Wilder. Gene Wilder made that role into something really special that leaped off the celluloid screen and stayed in your mind. The mischevious look in his eyes, and the way he tilted his head with that top hat on culminated into a performance of brillant subtlety and energy. Depp seems to have made the choice to play Wonka like he's a ten year old kid doped up on Ritalin. It's certainly a unique way to go, but I'm not sure if the idea has grown enough on me yet. As it is I've only just warmed to the idea that Wonka looks like a cross between Anna Wintour and Marilyn Manson.

There's no question about it, I'm hooked and definitely excited to go see the film. I think my biggest concerns at this point is that its going to turn out to be some some of sacchirin summer studio drivel targeted strictly at kids, with the substance of a melting slushy cone. That part in trailer that had me holding back my gag reflex a bit was when Charlie Bucket says "Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why its candy." while the narrator says "While only one, will find his heart..." Egads that's more syrupy sentimentality than a hundred bars of Wonka bars could hold. If they turned my beautiful dark and freaky childhood favorite into a vacuous, poorly scripted piece of Wonka eye-candy, I will not be pleased.

Still, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Burton to redeem himself.

2 Comments:

Blogger Elliot said...

I'm very much looking forward to this film.
I think J Depp is terrific.
He seems to resemble Freddy Mercury in this film.
I don't imagine it's on purpose but the comparison amuses me a great deal.

6:25 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Freddie Mercury was lovely. And I find it amusing that you find your comparison amusing. :)

6:28 PM  

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