Based on the Roald Dahl book, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory features the classic story of a poor boy who finds one of five golden tickets hidden in a Wonka chocolate bar. The ticket allows entry to, and a tour of, the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Once inside the factory, Charlie (Peter Ostrum), the four other kids and their guardians see a lot of weird things like Willy Wonka himself (played by an eerie Gene Wilder) and little orange men called Oompaloompas. It’s colourful, fun, and is one of the best family films ever. It’s also one of the most memorable films of my childhood.
For a 1080p high-definition picture, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is just OK. A few scenes are out-of-focus and muddy and certain effects look horribly outdated (the ending, for example). This has more to do with the original material (which was not the greatest to begin with) than the high-definition transfer. If you’ve seen the HD-DVD release you know what you’re getting as this is the same source. Probably the best we’ll ever see out of this film unless they go back and re-shoot parts of it.
The sound is definitely better than the image. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is clear and the musical numbers are great. It also has a 1.0 mix in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
The 38-page Digibook packaging that features essays, original marketing material, lyrics and extra info on the film is the only unique feature of this release. All the other features were previously released on the 30th Anniversary Edition DVD and include a commentary track with the five actors who played the kids, the documentary Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (which features the same five actors along with Wilder, director Mel Stuart, producer David Wolper and writer David Seltzer), a vintage featurette, four sing-along songs and a theatrical trailer. None of the features are in high-definition.
Although new HD features would be nice, Warner Home Video did the best with what they had to work with from the original film. If you’re a fan, this is the greatest quality you will see for the time being and is a nice addition to your Blu-ray collection. I wouldn’t be in a rush to buy it though.
Film **** out of 5 stars
Blu-ray *** out of 5 stars