July 27, 2005
Camera 12 — San Jose CA
115 minutes

Incredibly creative, but what else would you expect from Tim Burton. Johnny is good, weird, sometimes mean, often scared and sad. There were a couple of glimpses where I saw Edward Scissorhands trying to sneak through his face, even if that face was cadaver-colored and covered by pageboy bangs. He wasn’t doing Michael Jackson, I don’t think. I think he was imitating Frances McDormand in FARGO.

We go from room to room seeing all the candy inventions Wonka can come up with.

The problems are many, however. First of all, this was shown at a sort of artsy/mainstream hybrid of a theater, the independent chain Camera Cinemas. It was so loud that I had my earplugs most of the way in my ears. This is something I expect at the multiplex, but not at a place like this. Not loud explosions, but loud Danny Elfman, a man who is responsible for several of my favorite soundtracks ever. Nothing here was bad music, just headache-inducing in volume.

Secondly, the film became a series of special effects set-pieces, with little connection or emotion to them. We’ll go to this room, this kid will do something stupid and be carted away, we’ll hear a song, then we’ll go to the next room. It felt longer than it should have.

Not terrible–Johnny is better than I’d heard he was–the kid is cute–Grandpa Ned Devine is awake–and Charlie’s house is fantastic. The set design with the tracks in the snow is fabulous. The bratty kids are a bit too far to the side of brattiness, but then we can laugh as they get their just deserts, as it were.

*** Ebert
*** Berardinelli
7.9 Critical Consensus
7.2 Metacritic


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Written by Michael W. Cummins