Friday Film news

By Rob Last edited 163 months ago
Friday Film news

There's a lot of pressure ridign on Depp, Burton and their adaptation of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. After all it's a remake of a pretty good film based on a near-legendary book by the greatest (?) children's writer of all time (none of that Rowling nonsense here please!).

What's great though is that the film seems to have surpassed all expectations, at least it has for the broadhsheet critics.

four stars from the Guardian, where Pete Bradshaw dubs it a "highly enjoyable revival of [Dahl's] fantasy about the reclusive and, indeed, barking mad confectioner Willy Wonka."

It's "Tim Burton's best film for years," reckons Bradshaw (not difficult when you've got Big Fish and Planet of the Apes to contend with) and, as you would expect from Burton, the production design is top notch: "the Wonka factory, with its gaunt brickwork and smokeless towers, look a bit like the Thames Bankside power-station before it became Tate Modern".

There's another four stars from the Independent, where Robert Hanks praises the director's vision ("it is clear that Burton knows exactly what Dahl had in mind") and is without doubt that Burton has managed to blow the 1971 version "out of the water".

Strangely Hanks's "one big problem" with the film (and it's actualy two problems) is Depp's performance and the backstory of Wonka, something that may be down to the fact that in this 'post-Jacko era' "the reclusive millionaire inviting children into his personal wonderland can never be an entirely wholesome figure, and this awareness colours Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka to a damaging degree."

(By the way - the Independent have sorted out the way they mark each film's star you think other people complained too?)

Finally, in The Times we get the full five star treatment, with James Christopher drooling over this film like a box of Quality Streets with all the purple ones still in it.

"There isn’t a single conventional frame in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic bedtime story," says Christopher and disagrees with Hanks in his assessment of Depp's performance (which is made better apparently by his resemblance to a ceratain troubled pop king):

Depp’s marvellous Wonka who powers the film. His passing resemblance to Michael Jackson is almost too delicious for words: the porcelain pallor, the pageboy bob of dark hair, the super-fly sunglasses, lavender gloves, even the voice — soft with a hint of squeak. He is a spooky facsimile of the neurotic star, and wonderfully ill at ease with children from the real world.

Christopher also thinks the backstory is "clever" and gives the Wonka character "more teeth which makes "Gene Wilder’s 1971 Wonka look positively saintly."

But he probably speaks for all the reviewers when he says that Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is "pure shameless magic".

So is anyone going to see any other film this week? Probably not, so let's have a look at the reviews for what seems to be a complete stinker: Shallow Ground.

It's a "ramshackle horror film" according to Pete Bradshaw's one star review, and (as usual with Bradders) he doesn't hold back when it comes to weilding the critical knife:

The film critic Richard Roud is said to have written a legendary, dyspeptic review of The Sound of Music which consisted of just one word: "No." My one-word review of this would be: "Sorry?"

"The script is so garbled that nothing makes any sort of satisfactory sense," Bradshaw continues, obviously warming to his theme, "and the acting and directing are so bad that each clunky line, each misjudged edit, each drooping scene, falls on your head like a plastic carrier bag full of sand."

The Independent doesn't even bother to review this one, so it's straight on to the Times where James Christopher is a little more generous, awarding Shallow ground two stars, but it's not a review you'll want to read over your lunch:

A naked youth, soaked in blood, walks into a tiny police station in the middle of nowhere. Blood spurts out of his ears at will, big black spiders crawl over his body, and anyone who touches him gets nasty flashbacks to grisly, slashing murders. Shots of fishhooks lovingly spiked through flesh, mouthfuls of maggots and rotting eyeballs in decomposing faces leave nothing to the imagination.

Slightly more effective at getting you on the edge of your seat, it would seem, is The Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson.

The Independent and the Times give it two stars each, with the Times calling it a "more interesting" story than Shallow Ground (so that's why there's no online review) but sums it up as "monsoon-drenched hokum". Although John Hurt plays a "dribbling mute" so how bad can it be?

The Indy meanwhile calls it a "moderately effective piece of supernatural schloc that might be more purely pleasurable if you weren't so conscious of the talents being wasted".

Strangely enough it's up to Peter Bradshaw to route for this one, he gives it three stars mainly becasue "the ending is actually appreciably better than the beginning and the middle" (and that's as close to a 'spoiler' as you'll find on this site).

Pete, sounding for all the world like a wine aficionado, then goes on to call The Skeleton Key "a nifty little chiller in the southern Gothic style," and credits some "shrewd satire of racism" for adding a little depth.

Right then, on to this week's news stuff:

We would have made the trailer for the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line our trailer of the week, but we figured most of you would have already seen it (and we do like to surprise you sometimes). So, suffice to say, if you haven't watched this already go and take a look. Our guess is that you'll either love it or you'll hate it.

Mel Gibson isn't getting any saner, not if his latest project Apocalypto is anything to go by. A film about the Mayan ancient civilization in Mayan?! Is there a big Mayan fanbase out there that we don't know about?

Not a big fan of 3,000-year-old civilisations? Want another Hollywood remake starring Nicole Kidman instead? Well then how about Invasion of the Bodysnatchers redone as 'Invasion'? Yeah, because the 1956 and 1978 versions were just really bad weren't they?

Trailer of the week then is the fantastically named Lord of War, if only becasue it has Nicholas Cage in a bad suit on a private jet (again). Does he have that scene written into his contract or something?

Last Updated 29 July 2005