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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: G
  • Run Time: 100 Mins.
  • Discs: 3 (1 x Blu-ray + 2 x DVD)
  • Studio: Warner Home VIdeo
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 18th, 2011
  • List Price: $64.98

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

All outward appearances point to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory being no more than a silly, family friendly musical about kids in a candy factory, but one should never jump to conclusions. Willy Wonka is in fact a dark comedy in disguise, with a screenplay by Roald Dahl (Fantastic Mr. Fox) that stays rather true to his book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The story follows the eccentric and enigmatic candy manufacturer, Willy Wonka, played exceptionally by Gene Wilder, who holds a contest by hiding five golden tickets in his delectable Wonka chocolate bars, the prize being a chance to tour his chocolate factory. The children who win are all obnoxious brats, except the kindhearted Charlie (Peter Ostrum), a poor kid whose first break in life, it seems, is finding this winning ticket. But for viewers, we don’t even know for sure if we should like Charlie, because he’s been approached by a competitor of Wonka and asked to steal a new candy from the factory.

Wonka himself is odd, and during the course of the factory tour, the children all touring with their parents, save for Charlie who has brought his grandfather along, he punishes each child as they break the rules of his factory. One child falls into the chocolate river and is sucked up a tube, another is turned into a giant blueberry that must be juiced. At least it seems that Wonka has punished them, he more just stands by and allows things to happen.

Perhaps there is a moral to Dahl’s story, “children shouldn’t misbehave,” but Dahl’s tales are always more complex than what first meets the eye. Whatever the case is, this version of Dahl’s story is definitely superior to the more modernized version with the original name (the name of this one was changed at the behest of Quaker Oats who sponsored the film and were launching a new chocolate bar, the “Wonka”). Despite Johnny Depp’s best efforts, he just came across as a creepy pedophile. Maybe it’s the memorable songs in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory coupled with Wilder’s reserved performance that make it much more palatable.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

This may be a “new” 40th Anniversary release of Willy Wonka, but the Blu-ray transfer is nothing new, it remains the same that has been released previously by Warner in Blu-ray Book and standard Blu-ray form. You can tell from the VC-1 encodement (the studio has been moving to AVC/MPEG-4) and Dolby TrueHD audio as they’ve been moving to DTS-HD Master Audio (see below). While the transfer isn’t perfect by any means, it does have its strong points, so I’ll start with those. Colors look fantastic, absolutely lick-able, even if flesh tones are sometimes pushed toward red in sacrifice. Once you get to Wonka’s chocolate factory, the picture remains rather clean and crisp, with the exception of some grainy parts where there have obviously been some special effects double prints used. Earlier on, however, the film’s grain is a bit inconsistent, to say the least, as is detail. This is strange, considering Willy Wonka looks like it has been scrubbed pretty clean, at times looking a little heavy-handed on DNR.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t work for me. Yes, dialogue is clean as are vocals during the songs, but it sounds rather dull and muted and the added surround channels are a bit useless here with very little atmospherics. In fact, switching to the German Dolby 1.0 mix during songs (the German dub retained the English song tracks) yielded very little difference in sound quality to my ears.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is where the 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition really shines, assuming you’re into collectible items that won’t see much, if any, use. There are an abundance of interviews with the filmmakers, Wonka kids, and Gene Wilder, plus in the box, a bunch of collectible items that fans, collector’s and gift givers are sure to appreciate.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray/Main Feature):

  • Commentary with the Wonka Kids
  • Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1.33:1;480i/60; 00:30:25) – Includes interviews with director Mel Stuart, producer David Wolper, star Gene Wilder and the five Wonka kids.
  • Vintage 1971 Featurette (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:04:02)
  • Fun + Games:
    • Sing-Along Songs
      • I’ve Got a Golden Ticket
      • Pure Imagination
      • I Want it Now
      • Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)

Disc 2 (Interview & Featurettes DVD):

  • Mel Stuart’s Wonka Vision (1.78:1; 00:13:34) – The film’s director is interviewed and talks a bit of working on the film.
  • A World of Pure Imagination (1.33:1; 00:12:33)

In the Box “Delectable Collectibles” :

  • Retro Tin with Scratch-n-Sniff Pencils and Scented Eraser
  • 14 Pieces of Wonka Production Correspondence
  • Pure Imagination, 144-page, Behind-the-Scenes Book from the Film’s Director
  • DVD – A standard DVD copy of the film is also included.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a classic, without a doubt – I’ve had the songs stuck in my head all day – but unless you are a hardcore fan, or really need the collectible items in this set, you may be better off sticking with the previous Blu-ray edition, which can be had for a much lower price. Still, I can’t argue with the collectibility of this set making it a great as a gift.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005F96UF0[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory -

Purchase Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

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