It is hard to imagine a project better suited to director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman than an adaptation of Roald Dahl's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and both artists make good by turning in some of their finest work. As in their past collaborations, Elfman provides a dreamy, zany auditory component to Burton's surreal visual universe and--as one might expect--Elfman's score to this paragon of fantastic films is dreamier, zanier, and bursting with more ideas than nearly any score in his oeuvre. Elfman's orchestral work (epitomized in "Main Titles") is dramatic, surprising, and full of tension, evoking the spookiness, magic, and pure lyricism of the film and its themes.
But the real treasures here are the five tunes Elfman composed for voice. The first song, a helium-infused, carnivalesque romp, introduces Willie Wonka. The other four are theme songs for the errant children who enter Wonka's factory. Each is done in a different style, ranging from the tribal, Oingo Boingo-like bounce of "Augustus Gloop" to the sunshiney psychedelia of "Veruca Salt," and the jittery, robotic opera of "Mike Teavee." Amazingly, these tunes equal the greatness of the songs from 1971's WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and manage to remain both original and true to the spirit of Dahl's book, which is high praise indeed.