Here we are then, the worst film ever crafted. From the daft and weird mind of Tim Burton and the collaborative efforts of industrialisation commentary and working-class woes. But it worked better when it wasn’t so aggravating or sickly to look at. Acknowledging the insanity of a man that owns a chocolate factory that employs squirrels is the only positive step taken by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a film that fails to provide much use in its adaptation of a Roald Dahl classic. Still, no film with Noah Taylor can be truly bad, right? There are exceptions to the rule. Sadly, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of them.
Johnny Depp provides the wrong level of creep. He plays a man obsessed with chocolate; a child trapped in the body of an idiot. David Kelly narrates the legacy of Wonka, rather than having him speak for himself. Depp’s role is disastrous and completely stupid. A chocolate palace, a bird birthed in the mouth of an employee and industrial espionage are all crammed into the first few moments. As if that weren’t strange enough, the on-the-nose commentary that provides the Slugworth nods and aesthetic style of Burton is as sickly as drowning in the chocolate palace. The issue with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that it has the original horrors of the much better Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory looming over it. Depp and Burton cannot compete with Gene Wilder and Mel Stuart.
But it is their fault that they cannot compete. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has no sense of place. 1920s aesthetic for New York, modern-day Japan to precede it. A clumsy stitching together of period piece aesthetics that make no sense when together, especially not along with the Burton set pieces that make up the crooked house of Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore). Why the characters are airbrushed beyond repair is a strange one. The few additions Burton can bring to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is changing Mike TV from obsessed with television to obsessed with video games, which does defeat the purpose of his character considering the name and all. But having Christopher Lee and David Kelly as the old hands at the tiller is a strange and purposeless role for the pair of them, even if the latter is running behind the late Jack Albertson’s excellent performance as Grandpa Joe.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory decries the loss of the working class and replaces them with a factory run by natives of a jungle and parachute baking trays falling graciously to the conveyer belt below. The terrified industrialisation of the modern world fails to pass in this pop psychology of gothic horrors and boring traipses through the gluttony and sin of children eating chocolate. When eight vans of chocolate are the entire commission of your monstrous factory in what looks like Leeds then you’ve no right to complain when the employees form a union. Which is probably what they should’ve done before being outsourced for cheap labour. No musical moment worth mentioning, no performance salvaging a single moment of this nightmare fuel. Gothic horror performing an act of sacrilege on itself, making a mockery of the genre, the children that wanted it and the adults who didn’t.