Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect an appealing presentation here.
Overall, Wonka offered good definition. The source material sometimes could be a little soft, largely due to the photographic styles. This made some instances of lackluster definition inevitable, but the movie usually looked fine.
Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I noticed no edge haloes. With natural grain, I didn’t suspect any noise reduction issues, and print flaws remained absent.
Wonka featured a wonderfully vibrant and vivid palette, and the disc reproduced the tones with fine boldness and accuracy. From Wonka’s purple garb to red clothes worn by Violet and Charlie to the green hair and orange faces of the Oomps, colors always appeared bright and distinctive. The disc’s HDR gave the tones extra punch and impact.
Black levels also seemed to be nicely deep and rich, and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy. HDR gave whites and contrast added dimensionality. All in all, this became a terrific image.
The disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix took the movie’s original monaural stems and translated them into a modest but decent little soundfield. Much of the audio remained anchored to the center channel, and most effects usage seemed to feature modest ambience.
On occasion, some discrete elements popped up in the side channels, but usually the effects seemed to stay with general atmosphere that lacked much delineation. On the other hand, music showed solid stereo separation, as the score and songs spread neatly across the forward spectrum.
Surround usage usually stuck with light reinforcement of the forward channels, and the score also dominated that side of the package. The music swelled nicely from the rear channels, but no distinct instrumentation or vocals came from back there.
As for the effects in the surrounds, they seemed minor for the most part, but a few exceptions existed. For example, the sound of the chocolate waterfall occasionally came from the right rear speaker during appropriate scenes.
These gestures created a decent ambience, but they didn’t reinvent Wonka’s monaural wheel. Nonetheless, I was pleased with the extra breadth and dimension offered by the remix.
Audio quality felt decent but erratic, as the mix could seem a little overcranked. Dialogue felt a bit rough at times, though the lines usually worked fine and never lost intelligibility.
Effects showed fairly good range – probably too much range given the source, as bass response felt somewhat too loud. Nonetheless, these showed no signs of distortion or other flaws, and they represented their objects with acceptable accuracy.
Music again became the strongest element of the mix, though it still betrayed its age to a degree. The score and songs offered surprisingly fine depth, as bass response sounded fairly warm and strong, which added a nice layer to the track.
However, like the dialogue, vocals showed an edgy side at times. This wasn’t a bad issue, but it created some distractions. Ultimately, the track worked mostly well for its age but it came with some drawbacks.
How did this 4K UHD compare with the 2009 Blu-ray? The 4K’s DTS-HD mix showed a similar soundscape compared to the BD’s TrueHD, but quality differed.
In particular, the DTS-HD version was a bit rougher and more “in your face”, with louder bass and slightly more shrill treble. The DTS-HD representation wasn’t a bad take on the audio, but it seemed slightly overdone, so I preferred the more subdued TrueHD version.
As for the picture, the 4K became the easy winner, as it looked better defined and showed superior colors and blacks. On its own, the BD seemed very nice, but upon direct comparison, it could appear too bright versus the more natural 4K. This turned into an appealing visual upgrade.
By the way, the Blu-ray windowboxed the opening credits, but the 4K eliminates that annoying choice.
Note that Wonka also enjoyed a 2011 “Ultimate Edition” Blu-ray. It added extras not found in the 2009 set – or here – but its movie presentation duplicated that from the 2009 BD.
On the 4K disc itself, we find an audio commentary from all the “Wonka Kids”. We hear from all five of the movie’s main children, played by Peter Ostrum, Denise Nickerson, Michael Bollner, Julie Dawn Cole and Paris Themmen.
They were recorded together for this running, screen-specific track. Whoever came up with the idea deserves a prize, for it’s a brilliant idea. The commentary can’t quite live up to the grandness of the concept, but it’s still a very fun and lively little experience.
Throughout the track, we learn a slew of fun little details about the making of the film. Because it concentrates on the kids, we don’t hear too much of the more “adult” aspects of creating the flick, so don’t expect nuts and bolts details about the project.
However, we get a compelling perspective that covers lots of notes one wouldn’t normally expect to learn. The five provide entertaining minutiae about their experiences, and they offer a load of cute and winning anecdotes.
Despite the emphasis on the “kid’s-eye” view, we still get a fair amount of additional details. For example, we hear a few changes between the book and the film, and we hear some reflections on other perspectives, such as the Oompa-Loompa who apparently thought he was really guiding the Wonkatania.
The participants maintain a warm and lively chemistry and they make the piece quite charming. Ultimately, I find the commentary to be fairly terrific and it should be strongly embraced by Wonka fans.
The remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray Disc, and there we find a documentary called Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
This 30-minute, 25-second program offers remarks from director Mel Stuart, producer David L. Wolper, uncredited writer David Seltzer, and actors Gene Wilder, Peter Ostrum, Denise Nickerson, Michael Bollner, Paris Themmen, Julie Dawn Cole, and Rusty Goffe.
As a whole, this show seems a little brief, but it offers a fun and informative experience. In many ways, “Pure Imagination” resembles the audio commentary in that it focuses mainly on anecdotes from the set.
We learn some good details about the production’s genesis and other aspects of the movie’s creation, but most of it deals with stories about the different occurrences. Even though all of the “Wonka Kids” reappear, very little information repeats from the commentary.
he addition of Wilder becomes a positive, as he adds a lot of good notes about his involvement in the movie. I also like the ending reflections during which the “kids” tell us what they did after Wonka.
The footage from the set was crudely shot and generally not all that great, though the presentation has a few decent elements. All of it is silent except for the most compelling snippet: a demo of a Wonka song. Overall, I wish “Pure Imagination” had been longer and more detailed, but it still offers an entertaining and useful piece.
Another video program provides a four-minute, two-second original 1971 Featurette. This mainly focuses on the work of art director Harper Goff.
It mixes film snippets and more of the same kind of shots from the set that appear in “Pure Imagination”. In addition to comments from an unnamed narrator, voice-over statements come from Goff and author Roald Dahl. The piece doesn’t offer much information, but it becomes a mildly interesting look at the film’s design nonetheless.
In addition to the film’s trailerSing-Along Wonka Songs for four of the film’s tunes: “I’ve Got the Golden Ticket”, “Pure Imagination”, “I Want It Now” and “Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do”. These simply showed the film footage with highlighted text along the bottom of the screen.
Since the disc already included subtitles, this featured seems a little pointless, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt anything. At least it isolates the four tracks, and since they can be accessed together via the “Play All” option, you can easily create your own extended Wonka Karaoke sequence.
As a movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory remains as fun and engaging as ever after 50 years. It’s one of the rare flicks that works equally well for adults and kids, and it holds up nicely through repeated viewings. In regard to the 4K UHD, it provides nice picture and audio along with some informative supplements. This is a fine release for a high-quality movie.
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