Review: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Ultimate Collection Blu-ray

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Ultimate Collection Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Mel Stuart | CAST: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Michael Bolner, Denise Nickerson, Paris Themmen
RELEASE DATE: 10/18/2011 | PRICE: Two-DVD $12.97, Blu-ray/DVD Ultimate Collection $64.99
BONUSES: featurettes, commentary, documentary, sing-alongs
SPECS: rating | ?? min. | Family musical | aspect ratio | audio | ?? subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The evergreen family musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory continues to be delightful 40 years after it debuted in theaters. The wonderful story, the fun songs, and the fabulous fantasy of that incredible candy factory have entertained generations.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryAnd it’s a delight to re-live the movie in high-definition. The film looks glorious, and this is a film that uses high-definition well. Willy Wonka’s purple coat, Gene Wilder’s blue eyes, the orange Oompa Loompas look brilliant. But most amazing, naturally, is the Chocolate Room. The colors of all the candy and the chocolate river are beautiful. The pink of the mushroom is stunning. It makes me want to jump in and chow down.

The Blu-ray sound is just as good. The glubs of the chocolate river swallowing up Augustus Gloop, the pings and pops of the Everlasting Gobstopper machine, and, of course, those wonderful songs. “Pure Imagination” — my favorite — has never sounded better.

All of the special features on the Blu-ray are imported from the DVD that was released in 2004, but they’re still good. Frankly, what more can be said about the movie.

The best extra is the commentary with the now-grown actors who played the golden ticket winning kids. It sounds like it’s a reunion of sorts for the group, and they have fun ribbing each other and reminiscing about their time on the set. We hear lots of behind-the-scenes secrets. Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregard) reveals that she spent two months in a dentist chair after all the gum chewing she did for the film, as it was before sugar-free gum was available. Denise and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) joke about how they would fight over the boys in the cast, namely Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket). And Peter says his burps aren’t really his. There are lots of laughs, and listening to it makes you feel like you’re in a room with the actors sharing their joy about the making of this film.

The documentary Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a great behind-the-scenes piece, with director Mel Stuart explaining that the film started after his daughter read Roald Dahl‘s original book and recommended her father make it into a movie. He couldn’t resist! We hear from Gene Wilder, all the Wonka kids, screenwriter David Seltzer about those immortal last lines and others.

The imaginative Harper Goff, art director for the film, is applauded in a 1971 featurette. He designed the chocolate room, which has become a fantasy vacation destination for generations of viewers.

And, appropriately, the disc includes sing-alongs for “Pure Imagination,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” “I Want It Now” and an Oompa Loompa song.

The ultimate prize in the Ultimate Collection is the box itself. The Blu-ray and two DVD discs are housed in a half-open Wonka bar, and there’s a tin in the shape of the type of Wonka bar that awarded Charlie his golden ticket. The tin contains Willy Wonka pencils and a chocolate eraser. So fun!

The box also contains a book about the making of the film and a folder with reproductions of letters sent from Mel Stuart during the production. The best reproduction is of a hand-written note by Wilder in which he gives his ideas for Willy Wonka’s costume. They didn’t make it to the film, but the note is a fun read, giving us insight into Wilder.

Finally, the box has a Golden Ticket. It’s a game piece with a code to enter on, but the Golden Ticket looks just like those in the film, and that’s enough for fans.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.