Re the writing by John August, Tim Burton‘s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is not much of a movie version of Roald Dahl’s humanity-scolding book. The final few minutes go nowhere, and Charlie (Freddie Highmore) is a somewhat hollow character. Burton’s imagination exceeds his intelligence, yet . . . we love him anyway, right? His Charlie is spellbinding, with perfect razzle dazzle and effective humor. And Johnny Depp playing Willie Wonka as a solitary, sadly neurotic freak. His acting is more curious than strong, but it is curious, even enticing.
A bratty girl is carried to a garbage chute by industrious squirrels, a candy bar techno-magically replaces the monolith in a shown copy of 2001, an Indian palace made of naught but chocolate melts in the sun—Burton presents it all with expert direction. My enthusiasm is limited—the film lacks the moral import of the weaker Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, from 1971—but Charlie is boyish poetry.