HTF REVIEW: "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" (Widescreen)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 7, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

    "If you want to view paradise, simply look
    around and view it"
    It's funny how a movie brings back the earliest
    of your childhood memories. It was 1971, and I
    was 8 years old. My parents took me to the
    Paramount Theater in Asbury Park where I first
    saw Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
    I clearly remember coming home and acting out the
    movie in the basement of my home. Later, I read
    the original book that the movie was based upon,
    as well as the book's sequel (Charlie and the glass
    Elevator) that put Wonka and company into outer
    space (ala the Wonka Elevator) to fight vernicious
    Kinids. But that's another story! Suffice to say,
    the movie remains my absolute favorite childhood
    film that hasn't shown any wear now watching it
    as an adult.
    When my DVD screener arrived in the mail today,
    I felt like I had the Golden Ticket in my hand!
    This was more than a beloved movie I was holding --
    it represented a success story of battling a studio
    who initially refused to release this film in
    widescreen. The DVD represented a trophy to everyone
    on this forum and other forums on the internet who
    loudly crusaded against Warner Brothers for deciding
    that family features ought to be released in Pan and
    Scan only. Because of each and every one of us
    who took a stand and signed a petition, we now have
    the ultimate reward on DVD.
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is
    indeed one of the most magical movies ever made.
    It came at a time where grand musical movies were
    starting to fade out. As you will find out in the
    supplemental documentary, the movie was made to
    promote a candy bar.
    While the transfer of this DVD generally looks
    good, I was disappointed that it didn't look as
    great as I had hoped for this Special Edition.
    Colors are very pronounced, but not vivid. The
    picture is a bit on the soft side and contains
    a bit of noticeable graininess. Still, the overall
    quality of the transfer is the best I have seen on
    any format to date.
    The disc packaging states that the film has
    been remixed to 5.1 stereo surround. Actually,
    I didn't detect the surround ambiance, and thought
    it sounded better in 2-channel stereo. Sound is
    quite good.
    Warner Brothers has put together a really cool
    menu that puts you in the Wonka Elevator. As you
    select each menu option, the elevator doors close
    shut, and you are whizzed up, down, and sideways as
    you arrive at your destination. Once you arrive,
    a short scene from the movie preludes the menu
    which you have selected.
    The real treat of this disc is the Supplemental
    features that I promise the most die-hard Wonka
    fans are going to enjoy. In fact, I have never
    enjoyed supplemental material as much as I have on
    this disc. It ultimately brought a tear to my eye.
    I urge everyone to start with the original short
    featurette from 1971. Filmed on the set of the
    chocolate factory, the film pays homage to the Art
    Director, Harper Goff, who designed the massive
    (and beautiful) sets that made up Wonka. Here we
    see raw footage of Gene Wilder romping through the
    chocolate factory and taking blocking directions
    from Director Mel Stuart. It's like watching a
    very precious piece of lost artwork that has never
    been seen before. I could feel my heart racing
    knowing that this was never before seen
    footage direct from the set. Unfortunately, the
    featurette is a short 10 minutes in length.
    The documentary that will really warm your heart,
    is Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka.
    This is the documentary put together a year ago
    where the entire casts reunites and talks about the
    experience of making the most beloved children's film
    of all time.
    What is interesting to learn is that the idea to
    make this film actually came from Director Mel
    Stuart's daughter. She read the original Roal Dahl
    book, and wanted her Dad to make this film. On a
    shoestring budget and pure luck, the film was put
    together in desperation. It was a wild gamble to
    make such an immense movie on a limited budget and
    to then make it into a musical.
    The documentary has filmed interviews with all
    the child actors including Peter Ostrum (Charlie),
    Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca), Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee),
    Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop), Denise Nickerson
    (Violet Beauregarde), and even one of the original
    Oompa Loompa's. Each of them relates personal
    stories from the filming, as well as telling us what
    they are doing with their lives now.
    But it is the moment that an elderly Gene Wilder
    comes on camera that your heart drops. He lovingly
    recalls his experience playing Wonka and what inspired
    him to play the role as he did. You will be surprised
    how many of the pivotal character slants Wonka displays
    were originally all Gene's ideas. There never has
    been any question that Gene Wilder was the absolute
    perfect casting choice, and that the role has become
    the staple of his career. I sat and watched this
    elderly man talk about the movie of his career, and
    I actually had a tear in my eye. It's like sitting
    down and watching a beloved screen idol talk about
    one of the happiest movies of your childhood. Of
    course Gene Wilder answers the ultimate WONKA
    questions: Was all the candy in the factory
    real?; Did you really eat the buttercup?

    The documentary is the sweetest of all treats for
    fans of this movie. There's even raw footage of
    Anthony Newley presenting for the first time,
    the final arrangement of "Pure Imagination", which
    he sings. Wilder later recalls how Newley came to
    set the day the song was to be recorded and wished
    him luck.
    Let's move on, because I can talk about this
    documentary forever....
    There's a very small Photo Gallery of black
    and white studio publicity stills which is sort
    of interesting to look at, though none of it is
    taken from behind-the-scenes.
    Sing-along Songs is a gimmicky little
    something for the kids that want to learn the
    words to the songs. Actual musical scenes are
    played in their entirety aided by large bubble-size
    lyrics on the screen.
    The ORIGINAL trailer is included. I was a bit
    disappointed that the reissue trailer was not.
    There is a feature-length commentary with
    the Wonka kids. Unfortunately, I did not have
    time to listen to it. Next viewing, for sure!
    Final thoughts.....
    It was a long, difficult task to change the tides
    and get Warner Brothers to release Willy Wonka
    widescreen. It's sort of good that they chose this
    film as the one to initially make the bad decision on.
    I don't think any other film in their library would
    have evoked such anger had it been announced as a
    pan and scan only release. This is the definitive
    childhood movie that we, as adults, love just as
    much as the new generation of kids who will be watching
    this film for the very first time.
    It belongs in EVERY DVD collection!
    Release Date: November 13th
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
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  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thank you, Ron, for that nice review. I'm looking forward to picking this up...hopefully next week.
    I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that I called Best Buy's corporate HQ, asking about the stocking of WS Wonka on-time, on the 11/13th release date. The customer rep I talked to asked their buyer, and then e-mailed me an answer. This was the ultimate answer I got:
  3. Steve Lockwood

    Steve Lockwood Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Excellent! I look foward to getting my hands on this.
    -Everybody knows that the dice are loaded-™
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    This is wonderful news. I am very proud that we were able to bring this title about with our voices. I truly am prouder than ever to be a part of the HTF community.
    No OAR = No Sale
    [​IMG] to WB for finally seeing the light. Kids can understand OAR too (especially if I explain it to them) [​IMG]
  5. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thanks you for not revealing all of the tricks of the features Roanld ^^. I can't wait to get this next week(finally going to get the Toy Story Ultimate Toy Box and Wonka in it true OAR too).
  6. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

    Oct 3, 2000
    Likes Received:
    One question, Ron:
    Do you like this DVD? [​IMG]
    I concur with your every point. This is a great DVD, and the fact that we got it on Widescreen is just sooo sweet. [​IMG]
    Scott Weinberg
  7. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

    May 8, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Just ordered it. My daughter has a love-hate relationship with the Oompa-Loompas!
    BTW, EVERYONE on this forum that values OAR should order this disc whether you want it or not. This disc sets a precedent. We need to reward WB for doing the right thing.
  8. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

    Jul 17, 1999
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    So is it the same dvd except this one is widescreen than the one that was already released? Please answer Ron!
  9. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

    Mar 15, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    John Williamson
    Thanks Ron for the review, a definate buy for me! It truly is a symbol of what we accomplished, and I am damn proud to have been part of it!
    BTW, thanks for the info David, but if BB doesn't have this title on it's release date, i'm taking my business elsewhere. If they don't want to carry it on time for their own ignorant reasons, than I know plenty of other places that WILL have it.
    To the men and women of the N.Y. police and fire department
    God bless you.
    To the victims and their families
    God keep you.
    To the dirtbags who caused all this
    God help you!!!
  10. cafink

    cafink Producer

    Apr 19, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Carl Fink
    Is that the actual cover? I expected to see a large ugly "widescreen" banner across the top. I'm glad to see it absent, but it looks like the widescreen version has box art that's identical to that of the full-screen version, which can only lead to confusion and frustration.
  11. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

    Oct 11, 2000
    Likes Received:
    That is not the cover. There is a "Special Widescreen Edition" red banner across the top.
    It is up over at
  12. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Sounds like a nice disc! I'm embarrassed to say that I've never seen WWatCF. Still, I think I'll pick it up, watch it, and give it to my nephews for Christmas.
  13. Oscar W

    Oscar W Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 5, 2000
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  14. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 19, 2000
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    I have never seen this movie.
    I will get the DVD to support our fight for OAR. But since everybody seems to like this movie I guess I will get a great movie as an "added bonus" to the OAR issue [​IMG]
    Thanks WB.
    - Michael
    My DVD collection
  15. Brian O

    Brian O Second Unit

    Apr 27, 1999
    Likes Received:
    This is a great movie that I really enjoyed seeing as a child during its initial release.
    Gene Wilder's performance of Pure Imagination is just magical, too. I would buy the disc just for that!
    Widescreen, here I come!
    [Edited last by Brian O on November 12, 2001 at 04:34 AM]
  16. SteveBjr

    SteveBjr Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I'm very excited about this DVD. I'll be picking up my copy tomorrow. I've never seen this movie in Widescreen so hopefully i'm in for a big treat. Can't wait to check out those extras [​IMG]
    DVD Collection
  17. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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    Unfortunately, I was asking in Best Buy today as to whether the WS version of Wonka will be in-store tomorrow, as scheduled by WB.
    The lovely lady there found the entry in their inventory system readily enough. However, none on-hand waiting in the back for street date. None shown on-order.
    Unless some get drop-shipped at the last moment, there will be no Wonka WS tomorrow, at least at MY local BB.
    Do you like TV on DVD? Then check THIS out!
  18. Sean Patrick

    Sean Patrick Supporting Actor

    Apr 22, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I have the original dvd from 1997 (which was also anamorphic) - how much of an improvement is the picture quality? i know the extras are great, and i plan on picking it up in the future, but unless it has a totally 100% better looking transfer i might wait a few months.
  19. Darren Davis

    Darren Davis Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 9, 2001
    Likes Received:
    you know, I still think Gene Wilder is one of the greatest actors. He has the voice, passion, presence, everything. His performance in this movie is worth the purchase alone. Anyways, thanks for the great review. I love this movie and it has been added to my list.
  20. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Good news! The music store that TRIED (without success) to get me a WS copy of Cats & Dogs...has copies in-stock right now of WS Wonka! I'm off to go get one, assuming there's no mistake from the teenie-bopper who I talked to. I'll let you all know how it is!
    Do you like TV on DVD? Then check THIS out!

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