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SONIC DEATH MONKEY SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Laura Kyle

Imagine if you invited all Danny Elfman’s past film scores over for dinner, spiked their drinks with double shots of espresso, and then let them converse. Whatever you’re hearing in your head right now, well, that’s the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Composer Danny Elfman has created his most extravagant and creative composition to date –and a delightfully roguish one it is.

I haven’t seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but if Elfman’s accompanying music is any indication, the film is pretty darned energetic and perhaps a bit demented.

“Wonka’s Welcome Song” immediately sets the expectedly weird vibe of director Tim Burton’s adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It plays like a hyperactive children’s TV show theme, introducing the audience to Wonka.

The Oompa Loompas take over the first portion of the soundtrack; a song is dedicated to each naughty child – “Augustus Gloop,” “Violet Beauregarde,” “Veruca Salt,” and “Mike Teavee.” Danny Elfman’s voice is morphed and multiplied (just as actor Deep Roy’s physical body was for the screen) for the ultra-techno, pretend pop (modern AND 60’s/70’s), tongue-twisting jingles…good luck listening out for the moral lessons though!

Although “Mike Teavee” is enormously fun, the first half almost identical to musical fragments from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the second half reminiscent of Queen, the musical visit from the Oompa Loompas whizzes by before you can give a first thought to whether or not you agree that watching lots of TV is bad for you.

“Main Titles” transitions the listener into Elfman’s predominately instrumental score – ie the good stuff. Immediately, Elfman fans will think of Edward Scissor-Hands. That’s probably the most likeminded score, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory truly is the accumulation of the composer’s career.

As if his instrument count hasn’t been high enough in his previous films, he’s bringing more sounds to the table than ever before. From allusions to Eastern music (I believe a sitar makes a cameo), to even an Islander vibe, midway through the soundtrack, Elfman is a difficult guy to keep up with.

What’s interesting is he seems to be tied to a very persistent beat; one that thumps through a good deal of the tracks. Elfman’s certainly utilizing drums and other percussive instruments more than he has in the past.

“The Boat Arrives” and “The River Cruise” (Parts 1 and 2) are good examples of this especially strong consciousness of rhythm present on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack. These pieces are loads of fun, to boot.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack is somewhat of a cold fish, though tracks like “Charlie’s Birthday Bar,” “The Golden Ticket/Factory” and “Wheels in Motion” are more reminiscent of Big Fish, feature endearing strings. And toward the end, “Charlie Declines,” “Finale” and ultimately the “End Credit Suite” remind us that, yeah, just as easily as Elfman can get the adrenaline pumping, he can also get to the heart of the matter, invoking a magical curiosity out of the moviegoer that’s distinct to Tim Burton films.

Simply one of Danny Elfman’s BEST scores, which means it’s one of the best scores. Period. Maybe not my favorite...but still his most accomplished.

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originally posted: 08/18/05 14:48:11
last updated: 09/23/05 15:12:41
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