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07/20/2019 09:34:12 •••

A New and Accurate Take Hampered by Nostalgia

The prime reason people don't like this film is because they're so used to the original. Viewing it more critically, I think this movie is a great adaptation.

For one, in terms of accuracy, it does a great job of capturing the book with new vision but more of the original text (including Dahl's actual Oompa-Loompa songs instead of the annoying cookie-cutter tune in the original), and updates the story for modern sensibilities in some clever ways. The story is closer to the book in its turns and while I admire the original film's intentions to invent, I think the original story had it about right. Charlie is a good kid and that's about it. No temptation comes into play. The story isn't about why Charlie is a good kid, it's about how parents can mess up a child, with him being the exception, the "control", to compare to the rest. And the scenes with the Buckets are genuinely touching and melancholy, but not too overdone. They provide a great contrast to the bad families on the tour.

I feel the original film was hampered by budget and technology, because comparing the Chocolate Rooms to the book reveals the differences. In the original, it's obviously inside a warehouse and the chocolate looks like diluted paint at best. Here, it's more of an edible wonderland and the chocolate river looks rich, creamy and delicious, though the factory is still in the background. The visuals have all of Burton's relatable yet quirky and new design features, which work so well for Dahl.

The updates are good, too. Gum-chewing was the nasty trait of Violet, but here, it's a part of her true flaw, general competitiveness, fueled by an insecure stage mom. Gum-chewing seemed like a really dumb thing for parents to encourage, anyway, so here, it's a better commentary. Mike is a violent gamer now, which is definitely a real demographic, if not a universal truth.

And Wonka. How did this wonderfully eccentric madman turn into a creepy game show host? My question is...how didn't he? He's supposed to be unsettling, rude, and sketchy to the group, and we get that. It's a perfectly valid update, because the loony-grandpa vibes of the original don't seem as alarming to us now, and Wilder's version was close to the book but is more sympathetically whimsical. Here, it's still a crazy maniac with unorthodox methods, just changed for our sensibilities, and without such obvious darkness. He's very different, but also very much in line with the intent of the character. Wonka isn't creepy because he's misunderstood, it's just that Charlie can see more than the others. I also like the way the suspiciously perfect nature of the incidents is addressed, with Wonka being shown to not want the accidents to happen even though he's sure they will.

I don't think the backstory for Wonka was necessary, but it fits Dahl's writing well enough and a relatively harmless addition is better than a needless deviation.

Please give this film a chance. It does a lot right.

07/20/2019 00:00:00

Having grew up reading only Dahl's book, watched the Burton's movie in the theater when it came out, and not aware of the existence Mel Stuart's adaptation, I completely agree with you there. I would consider this to be a good adaptation, but looking back at it now, I think the 2005 version's main flaws and questionable implications can be found in the original book. This film adaptation only works for people who only read the book and not watched the Stuart movie (and for people who lives outside of North America). Even for its Truer To The Text approach, it still stands out on its own (and I will admit that Mel Stuart movie also stands out on its own merits, considering how it became a classic later on).


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