Villain Spotlight: Willy Wonka Part 2
I promised all of you a sequel to my last Wonka Villain Special, and I keep my promises! I apologize it has taken so long but truth be told I had not actually watched the more modern remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory specifically because I didn’t want it to spoil my endearment for the first film, but I delved in to the film just for all you fans this week. This time around we are going to spotlight Johnny Depp’s version of Willy Wonka.
The first time we meet Johnny Depp’s Wonka character is, well, disturbing. I am not sure why he decided to change his voice in to some weird, higher pitched, unconfident chirp but it’s just odd. And after he awkwardly introduces himself, his awkwardness continues as he escorts his guests in to the factory. It also becomes quickly apparent that Depp’s version of Wonka hates children. I know Wilder’s version was critical of the kids, but he didn’t seem to be openly disgusted by kids like Depp did. I guess that could be a good quality for a villain, but sadly Depp acts more like the kids would give him cooties as opposed to him planning their demise.
During our adventure through the candy meadow, we first encounter Tim Burton’s of oompa-loompas. We even get to see Wonka in the African bush homeland as he re-enacts a flash back to meeting the oompa-loompas, which again is nothing short of slavery. They tried to make this a more justifiable enslavement this time around by claiming the oompa-loompas worship the Cacao bean and therefore Wonka paying them in wages of chocolate is exactly what they wanted. And remember our previous trip down the chocolate river full of hallucinations and Marilyn Manson worthy lyrics? This time we add a bunch of galley-slave oompa-loompas. Sadly this new version of the scene wasn’t really psychedelic and instead just dangerous as they raved down gigantic tunnels of chocolate.
I finally saw the actual villain shine through in Depp’s performance was when Veruca Salt gets thrown down the garbage chute by his treacherous squirrels. Explaining that Veruca is being whisked down to the incinerator, Wonka encourages his father to try and retrieve her the same way she fell, obviously looking to toss him down the chute as well.
In addition to Wonka’s use of slavery, Wonka seems to add another layer of animal cruelty in to his handbag of villainous traits: he whips cows to get his famous whipped cream and he dies sheep pink then shears them, for, well, they don’t really tell us what that is for.
And this new Wonka has some serious family issues. He can’t even pronounce the word “mother” or “father” as it brings back horrific flashback memories for him. The end of the film takes a completely different path than that of the 1970’s version. This movie ends showing our dear Wonka struggling to come to grips with his parent-hating past and making amends with his candy-hating father. This ending also happens in a very abrupt way not giving the movie the depth it could of.
So ultimately I have to apologize if this post felt more like a movie review than a villain spotlight, I just have to say I am disappointed in Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wonka. He was less spooky and awe-inspiring than the Wilder version, and more childish, sappy, and awkward (probably because of his lack of parentage growing up). I still will think of Wonka as a villain deep down, but Depp’s villain is not the brilliant mastermind put on the screen by Wilder. Instead I find Depp’s version an injured soul potentially predisposed to villainous behavior because of his past. I guess it is better than nothing, but I will be sticking with the 1970’s version of the film in the future.
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Posted on February 20, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Movies, Villain Spotlight and tagged Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder, Johnny Depp, Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, villain spotlight, Villains, Willy Wonka. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.