Even nearly four decades later, it’s a surprisingly dark yet ultimately utterly joyful film, as Charlie Bucket finds his golden ticket and gets to join four gruesome children on a tour of the factory of the film’s title. What’s more, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is packed with toe-tapping, memorable musical numbers, a terrific cast of young performers, and a memorable lead performance from Wilder. His Willy Wonka is a complex creation, veering unpredictably between likeable and quite sinister. And it’s a performance that sticks in the mind long, long after the credits have rolled.
The Blu-ray release sadly doesn’t present the copious extra material in high definition, but the main feature has benefited from a solid improvement. It’s a bright, colourful and imaginative film for long periods, and the transfer work is up to the job. There are moments where the material shows its age a little, but this is a good upgrade from the DVD edition, and the picture and audio both show genuine improvements. It’s also the finest way to own what’s undoubtedly the best version of the book to make it to the big screen to date. As fine an actor as Johnny Depp is, his Willy Wonka simply doesn’t hold a candle to Mr Wilder’s…. --Jon Foster