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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PG)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Tim Henman as Charlie Bucket
Tim Henman as Charlie Bucket

You have probably heard by now that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are reuniting for their fourth film in 15 years, a remake of Roald Dahl's children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you're anything like me, though, you're probably thinking "why would they make another film of this when there's already a classic version from 1971 that's been shown on TV twice a year since I was born and is as popular today as it has ever been?"

Well, while you're thanking your lucky stars that you're not like me, let me fill you in on the cast of the new version. Burton's muse Johnny Depp plays the mysterious recluse Willy Wonka and Christopher Lee cameos as his father, but the rest of the cast is made up of less well-known actors. The eponymous hero is played by Freddie Highmore, who I recognised as the Tim Henman looking kid from Two Brothers.

The cast as a whole gives a good performance, although Johnny Depp seems to be doing his best Sam Rockwell impression throughout the film, making me wonder why Burton didn't cast Sam in the role and be done with it. What really bothered me, though, was that I couldn't seem to watch this film without thinking of the original and it must have been years since I last saw it!

There are obviously a lot of similarities between the two film versions, most notably the superficial style of the films. I was glad to see that Tim Burton hadn't inflicted too much of his usual gothic style on this film, although there is an obligatory Halloween scene to look out for. Some sequences in this film are virtually identical to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which is no bad thing, as they were mostly the scenes which I considered too sacred to tinker with.

What you might notice more than the similarities between the two, however, are the differences. For a start, most of the songs are gone from this one, including "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket", "The Candy Man" and... well, all except the Oompa Loompa songs, which are pretty essential.

It's interesting to note that the lyrics to the remaining songs were written by Roald Dahl himself and the songs were scored and sung by composer Danny Elfman, who has worked on many Burton and Raimi films, as well as TV shows from The Simpsons to Desperate Housewives.

Also gone from this film are the geese that lay golden eggs (which have been replaced with squirrels that sort nuts, for some reason) and my favourite line from the original, "Save some for later, Augustus!". Burton has, however, really jazzed up the sequence with Willy Wonka rides a boat down a chocolate river, one of the few scenes that are definitely an improvement over the original.

At its heart this film is still a great story for children that should serve as a warning to avoid the many vices that kids can adopt: eating too many sweets, watching too much television, being too competitive or simply being a spoilt brat. Burton has also added Christopher Lee's character to flesh out Wonka's background and teach a lesson about the importance of family. However, while this is a good film in its own right, it rarely manages to supersede the 1971 version and is certainly not a significant improvement. In fact, I would still rather see the original, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give this one a go for yourself!

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Length: 115 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site: http://chocolatefactorymovie.warnerbros.com/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367594/
Release Date: 29th July 2005

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0% (60.0%)

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