Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Review

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Willy Wonka definitely takes things in a different direction from the other films that I’ve reviewed lately. It is still decently old like some of the other films, but not to the same extent. Also, this is probably the first comedy film that I’ve seen since Abbott and Costello and Wonka pulls it off quite well. The film is very over the top, but does so without being completely ridiculous either, which is a good thing. It could also just be that the writing is good enough for you to be able to take it all in stride. Regardless, I can say that this film definitely did something right!

Charlie grew up in a very poor family. They struggled to even get enough food to eat during the day. It was certainly rough, but one day the world became intrigued by the return of Willy Wonka. The business man had vanished without a trace many years ago, but he has now sent 5 Golden Tickets across the world. They are hidden in his chocolate bars. The 5 lucky individuals who find the tickets will be given a tour of his original facility. Nobody has set foot in there for several years so the whole planet is pumped to finally have some people on the inside.

I have to say that this is definitely a great business idea by Mr. Wonka as well. We see people buying thousands of chocolate bars and whole countries stop to try and grab this. America even got a little worries towards the end as Russia managed to grab a ticket first. Luckily, we still had the most representatives by the end anyway. One lady is not even sure if she should give in to the demands of the kidnappers who took away her husband. They want the chocolate bars her kingdom has and that may be too steep of a price. The world really panics the whole time that the bars are out and it’s great. While I do like the second half quite a bit as well, this first half is what really makes this film a success. It’s very crazy and illogical, but in a way that’s still realistic enough where it doesn’t seem silly. It’s just great writing and world building all around. The hype is handled perfectly and really sets you up for the Hunger Games esque ride that is to come. The only thing that holds it back is how obvious it is that Charlie will come out on top. This film should have gone the “multiple main characters” method so you wouldn’t be sure who would win.

I’d say that part 2 of the film starts off once they actually get inside. Wonka tells the kids that they have to make it to the end to get their prize. This proves to be a very difficult task since the kids want to touch things and gum up the works. Can Charlie resist the temptation of immediate gratification and riches for the ultimate prize or will he finally make a crucial mistake? It’ll be tough since a con man has went up to each of the kids and told them to snag him one of Wonka’s new ultra snacks and he’ll pay them handsomely for it. It’s just one snack right……

There were 5 lucky tickets so that means we have 5 main families. Lets start off with Augustus, the kid who loves eating. It’s easy to see why he wouldn’t last long in this environment since he is constantly surrounded by food. He didn’t play the match up right and went full aggro instead of a calm wait and snatch strategy. It ultimately cost him the gold prize and he wasn’t quite as fun as some of the other kids, but he fully embraced his desire to eat and eat. Trust me, he wasn’t shy about going for seconds. Next up is Mike, a kid who loves TV and even has a fake gun by his side. He has no real patience and when he sees a TV teleporter, he decides to go all in. I think we can safely say that his view is a little more down to Earth now and he actually got off quite leniently compared to some of the other kids. It’ll still be a tough life, but he can also experience some fun positives. A slice of pizza will be super filling now!

We can’t forget about Violet, who was the coolest in the film thanks to her father. He was a car salesperson who didn’t mess around and even told Willy that contracts are for suckers. While the rest of the cast signed their names into the contract that stipulated that they were willingly putting their lives on the line, the father objected. Unfortunately, Violet signed away anyway and basically dug her own grave, but at least her father knew what was up. “I’ll break you” was the best line in the film and I definitely think that the dad would have beaten Willy, had he not needed to go and save his daughter first. Easily the best character in the film. Another kid was Veruca, she always had to have whatever she wanted when she wanted it. This meant that she was perfect for Willy’s death traps that he scattered around the facility. They’re made to defeat individuals just like her. She actually lasted a while though.

As for good ole Charlie, he’s a nice kid. He also broke the rules, but managed to get lucky. That may have been a moment of weakness, but he’s certainly a far nicer and more honorable kid than the rest of the pack. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just had some bad luck. Charlie did everything that he could so he could make the financial situation better for his family. It had been rough for them and I believe the film even mentioned that most of his relatives hadn’t even gotten out of bed in years. It was a tight fit too since it was 3-4 of them squeezed in there. It was certainly emotional. Grandpa Joe was a fun supporting character. He was one of the only guys who dared to talk back to Willy and he made it clear that he wouldn’t be messed with. Grandpa Joe was old, but he had spunk. Charlie’s Mom was also a good influence on him as she encouraged Charlie to follow his dreams. She made the most of a pretty rotten situation.

Finally, there’s also Willy Wonka. He’s certainly a more sinister character than you would first think on the surface. He made a lot of money out of this situation and everything went according to his plans. Now, you can argue that his house isn’t an elaborate death trap and that everyone actually lives, but it seems a little sketchy to me. In this fantastical land, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they all died. It plays out like a family friendly horror film as everyone is bumped off one by one. Again, it’s the Hunger Games and since it is food related, the example is even more fitting. Wonka’s tricks were probably too good though since none of the kids were able to resist the temptations. Ah well, he’ll just have to nerf the place next time, but Charlie holds the keys now. Gene Wilder does a perfect job of showing how quirky Wonka is and making his character have a lot of personality right off the bat. Not just anyone could have pulled that off.

The only disturbing scene in the film is the really trippy car ride. It’s the only thing that could have maybe bumped this up to a PG…or beyond! The scenes definitely seemed rather intense, but it could just be an illusion effect from how fast the images were rolling. Either way, it certainly did a good job of being scary and out of nowhere. No wonder the cast wanted off of that ride. It didn’t help that it kept spitting frosting at them either. Not even Chocolate either, just good ole Vanilla.

Overall, This film was a lot of fun. It’s certainly very crazy and the world is quite spectacular, but it does it in such a serious way that it really works. It’s one of those rare comedy films where the writing is really on point and the pacing is great. It’s a laugh a minute and the cast is quite good. You’ll feel bad for the characters since a lot of them seem doomed in the end, but at least they got to eat some chocolate and have their 5 minutes of fame before going. I’d love to have some free chocolate myself. The movie even has a few songs and also gave the world some cool memes. Prepare yourself for Wonka’s big “You Lose” speech that got a lot of recognition online. This film fairly close to an 8 honestly, but a 7 just seems more appropriate. It’s in that gray area between numbers, but I don’t believe in giving half points so it had to be one of the other. If you want a fun film to check out for Christmas, this is certainly a really good option to roll with.

Overall 7/10

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Silver Streak Review

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It’s time for another Gene Wilder film. This one sees him witness a murder while on a train and now he must try to get away with his life. This will be no easy task since everyone wants him dead now. George also has a tough time remembering how villains love to attack from behind, which gets him into a few sticky situations. He’ll need all of his skills and experience if he wants to get out of this in one piece. It’s a pretty fun film for the most part and the only thing that drags it down a little is the heavy handed romance plot which suffers from poor writing and being generally unrealistic. There just isn’t much to it and the whole time you’re just wondering why the subplot was included. The film would have been even better without it.

As mentioned earlier, George was just minding his own business at first. He wanted a train ride so he could have time to think and relax. Unfortunately, he quickly meets a bad influence who tells him that train rides are only good for finding rebound characters. It turns out that he was right as George quickly dashes back to his room in triumph. The joy is short lived as a dead body crashes past his room and then George is thrown off the train by a bunch of brutes. George must get back on the train and save Hilly or it is all over. Can he really catch a train though? Even if he does…what hope does he have against trained professionals?

George isn’t really my kind of main character. He has his funny moments as always since the actor is quite good at playing this type of character. The reason I can’t like George is because he’s simply too easy and he can also be rather slow on the uptake. George also isn’t much of a fighter so he ends up getting knocked around whenever he doesn’t have a gun. It is still priceless to see him panic at everything though. His constant yelling is what makes his character enjoyable most of the time. Unfortunately, Hilly doesn’t end up being a good heroine. Unlike George, she isn’t even charismatic and funny to make up for it. She really messes up every opportunity possible and a lot of the time she has no real reason to make the decisions that she does. For example, she had George alone with her quite a few times and still decided to keep him in the dark. Even once the villains throw him off the train and start to get violent, she tries to trick George into thinking that he was imagining everything. That was never going to work and if she thought that the villains were going to leave him alone, then she was just being very naive. Throw in the fact that she is constantly flirting and seems to be very “free” in the worst meaning of the word and you have a very underwhelming character.

Luckily, we had Grover as the fan favorite character. He doesn’t show up until we’re well through the film so unfortunately his role is rather small. No matter, he still made the film a whole lot more fun and I can see why people would like him and Wilder as a good combo. Their characters worked well together. Grover’s appearance meant that Gene finally had some muscle backing him up and he would have certainly been doomed otherwise. Grover even got the happiest ending out of all the characters so his hard work paid off.

Roger is the main villain and he’s all right. He’s basically your average villain so there’s nothing unique about him, but he does a good job in the role. He keeps the heroes on their guard at all times and does have a lot of confidence. Even once he is outnumbered and at gunpoint, he tries to make a deal with George. Only plot hax is enough to save him at that point. He may have even been a little better than I would have expected. One of his minions, Reace, was also all right. He’s definitely an intimidating villain since he is rather huge and one good hit would be enough to defeat George. Luckily, fights between mere mortals will always come down to who has the better aim and George is a crackshot with a harpoon.

Finally, I have to mention that the main Police agent in the film is pretty bad. Bob is undercover so he uses that as an excuse to get drunk and flirt a lot before actually getting serious, but it’s a little too late by that point. He’s a very unlikable character and not even a very competent one at that. He opens a door without even looking even though he knows that gangsters are on the train. Seriously, they even knocked to give him a bit of a warning, but it was no use. Common sense couldn’t save Bob so what chance did George and friends have?

This film would have been an easy 7, but the main thing holding it back is the romance. As mentioned earlier, the plot isn’t written well. It just implies that George and Hilly are both people who will start a relationship with just anybody and are constantly on the rebound. The plot is given way too much screen time and you have whole minutes of nothing happening because they are too busy with each other. It slows the film down and that’s something that the film didn’t need since it is already so long. Parts of the film do drag towards the middle and this doesn’t help matters. Honestly, getting off the train 2-3 times was rather embarrassing. Actually jumping off was probably the worst mistake that George made. The heroes had the win in the bag at that point, but didn’t have the courage to follow through.

The milking the cow scene is also pretty gross, but I’ve always thought so. It’s just hard to watch and looks so painful for the cow. That’s why you should always bring something with you while watching a movie, like a snack or a water or something. That way you can quickly look away and grab that as you wait for the scene to end. Honestly, the cow scene is almost worse than the normal romance because of how iffy it is. Back to positives, the action scenes are pretty solid. Action isn’t exactly one of the genres so don’t expect long fight scenes or anything like that, but the fact that George can’t really fight makes his action scenes entertaining.

Overall, Silver Streak is a good film. I highly recommend the TV version since it cut out what felt like dozens of swear words throughout. The air bubbles make for a pretty funny experience. The romance holds it back and the cow scene was unnecessary, but the rest of the film is strong enough to make up for that. If you’re a Gene Wilder fan then you already know what to expect. If not, just come in looking for a fun retro comedy film and it should not disappoint. It’s not quite as strong as his Willy Wonka film, but it is still solid. Gene is definitely rising up as one of the better actors for me. He’s certainly charismatic and the fact that he always plays the same character type works for me. If you’ve got a good thing going, why switch it right? Get ready for some serious plot hax, but….since when has a gun film not had some of that?

Overall 6/10

Young Frankenstein Review

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It’s always sad when you’re so close to being a good film, but then crash and burn towards the second half. Young Frankenstein had a promising start, but as with many comedy films, it simply couldn’t think of enough good material and had to resort to iffy moments in the end. It does succeed as a parody and will get you a good amount of laughs so comedy fans may enjoy this film anyway. At any rate, it certainly does destroy the normal Frankenstein films, but that’s not much of a feat.

Frankenstein is a professor who is given a tough time because people always question him about the original Frankenstein. Frankenstein has even gone as far as to switch the pronounciation of his name to Frankensteen and always denounces the possibility of creating a monster. He even stabs himself accidentally when trying to get the point across. Unfortunately, he cannot escape his destiny. He gets ownership of the castle and once he gets there…strange things start to happen. An assistant by the name of Igor arrives with the house and a lady named Inga. Frankenstein doesn’t want to create a monster, but his genes start to take control of him and force him to go along with it. He begins to revel in his new role as a crazed scientist, but this isn’t what he wanted….right?

The film was definitely fun at first. The whole scene with him in the classroom was brilliant. He kept the students in line and while they really made it tough on him, Frankenstein never cracked. He even took the stab pretty well considering that it looked rather painful. You’ll feel bad for his volunteer though since that guy wasn’t prepared for the insanity that would ensue. The first parts of the castle were also fun as Frankenstein very sarcastically takes in the strange surroundings. He’s very skeptcal and isn’t afraid to mention it. At first he reacts to all the crazy stuff like Igor’s broken hand constantly switching sides, but gets used to it at the end. He adapts and adapts until he goes full crazy and tries to reenact the experiment.

The film really does recover just about everything that was in the first film. Naturally, some parts are greatly improved like the little girl scene. Instead of being drowned, she is simply thrown through a window back into her bed. It’s the kind of change that could have really helped the old Frankenstein films. We even get the blind guy burning the monster again. There are a lot of good homages and the film is at its best when it’s making fun of the old films and having Frankenstein panic at everything. Unfortunately, things go downhill when we get away from this.

The biggest offender is really the fact that the film constantly brings up the fact that Frankenstein’s upgrades also affected him in more personal ways. You’ll see a lot of jokes about that, but one joke goes a little too far as he chases one of the heroines. She trips and is unable to escape him. She does end up falling in love with him after the experience, but the fact remains that she didn’t really have a choice the first time. It’s meant as a joke, but one that was in rather poor taste. Aside from that, the “romance” between the main two characters is just as bad. During the whole film, Inga is constantly flirting with Frankenstein and purposely taking his comments the wrong way. She finally breaks his will by the end and then we get more sad plot twists. It’s a cruel end for Frankenstein as well since he basically loses his mind. The romance parts are definitely the weakest bits for the film and the scenes just aren’t funny.

It goes without saying that I’m not a fan of the Monster. He really only cares about running around and destroying things and finding a partner. That doesn’t make for a great villain or for a misunderstood guy. Inga is not any better as romance is the only thing on her mind. She’s portrayed as being incredibly unintelligent. It’s part of the parody aspect of course, but it doesn’t work too well at all.

With Frankenstein also falling off the deep end, the only good character here is Igor. You have to wonder whether he is as out of the loop as he suggests. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the actual mastermind behind the scenes. He gave Frankenstein the wrong brain because he “accidentally” broke the real one and then he would move large distances in impossibly quick times. The film hinted that he may have had a twin in the castle as well since it would be the only logical explanation at times. If that is the case, it only goes to reinforce the idea that he is a lot smarter and craftier than he seems. The pieces simply start to add up once you begin connecting the dots. Igor was definitely fun to have around.

Overall, Young Frankenstein wasn’t a good film. It’s a shame because as I mentioned earlier, the first half was fairly great. The humor was well done and Frankenstein’s reactions to everything were real highlights. Other scenes like getting stuck in the revolving door were also handled well although making sure that Igna also got stuck felt rather mean spirited of Frankenstein. Unfortunately, the film started to get a little too obsessed with romance by the end and getting the monster in on the action was really not a good move at all. Frankenstein’s descent into madness made absolutely no sense, but I suppose that was part of the point. I preferred him as a skeptic though since he kept on calling everyone out and just being a lot of fun. The actor certainly did a really good job for what it’s worth. The film just let him down this time. If you want a funnier parody, check out the horror/comedy I reviewed a while back where Sherlock Holmes and a lot of other famous detectives must team up to solve a murder mystery before they are all bumped off.

Overall 2/10