I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it pissed me off. The problem is that I also loved it. So, naturally, I started wondering how the hell I could love a movie and hate it at the same time.
It works like this: when I see the movie (3 times, now) I love the damned thing, but when afterwards, when I start thinking about the flick, that's when I start to lose all faith, not in the movie, but in its creator, the wily filmmaker Tim Wonka--er, Burton. But I'll get to that later.
One of the biggest things I encounter is the public's need to compare this production with the 1971 release, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As my roommate Robert so artfully said about the two films, "Apples and oranges, man." And I would agree. While that may just sound like someone desiring to shirk the comparison, someone who doesn't want to accept that a new film was made, I think to argue which film is better would lead into a never-ending battle akin to those about abortion and gay-marriage--both sides defiantly know that their stance is the right one.
One of the most common arguments I hear in favor for Burton's escapade is the whiny, "It's closer to the book." How? Because it changed the title back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Weird, because Roald Dahl actually wrote the screenplay for the first one (admittedly, he initially wasn't happy with the final product, but grew to accept it). It's true that the new film sticks decidedly to many details of the book, but the focus of the movie is entirely away from the book and into the mind of Tim Burton and the apparent psychological issues he needs to address.
The fact that the centerpiece for the story revolves upon Wonka's strained and troubled relationship with his father draws away any validity that the movie is "closer to the book" than its predecessor because Wilbur Wonka, D.D.S. is a figment of Burton's and his screenwriter's imagination. Not to say that this was a bad idea, far from it, but don't ignore that this flick isn't any truer a representation of Dahl's book than the 1971 production. In fact, I'm convinced that, in their own ways, both films are remarkably close to the book. As I watched the new movie I was startled at how often I was able to predict dialogue, referencing the scene to the same in the first movie. Since Burton openly stated that he did not use the 1971 version as a guide, I can only assume that the line was taken from the book. And these strange premonitions happened often as I watched Depp cavort around pale-faced and giddy.
The subject of the two films are actually inverted from their titles; that is, WWATCF focuses upon Charlie Bucket's morally strong character, while CATCF is an investigation of Willy Wonka's personal problems. As I thought about the new movie, I noticed that the deal with Wonka's father is not necessarily strange to Burton's movies and have become a central concern in his recent movies. Think about it, both this film and his previous jaunt, Big Fish, focus upon a son's broken relationship with his father. And in previous films the idea takes a supporting role, but the idea of a lost parent and the left behind child happens to pop up a lot (Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Ed Wood [Wood and his relationship with Bela Lugosi] come to mind). My initial reaction upon this realization was along the lines of, "Aw, dude--c'mon and get over it!" though part of me went wildly uproarious: "I'm onto you now, Burton."
But when I calmed, I realized that it doesn't really matter if Burton shoves this "Does my father love me?" crap at us all the time, because it is something he does rather well. A lot of writers/artists have a repeating theme within their works, most of whom I respect, and I won't try to slap them down because of it.
It's a good flick, a very good flick and everybody should check it out if they haven't already.
EDIT: I really like Tim Burton's movies or else I wouldn't dive in so deeply.