Wonka Review

Image Source: IMDb.com

Movie: Wonka

Production Company: Warner Brothers

Director: Paul King

Producers: David Heyman, Luke Kelly, Alexendra Ferguson Derbyshire

Scriptwriters: Simon Farnaby, Paul King

Main Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Olivia Coleman

Release Date: 8th December 2023

Running Time: 116 minutes

Certificate: PG

Introduction: The prequel to the cherished novel is an innocent, charming and magical treat that we’re all in need of at the minute.

Synopsis: A young and aspiring Willy Wonka arrives in Victorian London with the hope of opening his own chocolate shop, but has to face evil, greedy local businessmen.

Analysis: When the project was first announced, it was met with wide trepidation that the film would exist just to milk money out of the brand and character. There is no cause for concern for this. ‘Wonka’ is a jolly, candle floss confection of a film that is hard not to smile at that requires a heart of stone not to like – it is from the director of both ‘Paddington’ after all, so it makes sense. Despite a disrupted viewing experience, this did not deter me from going with the flow. However, the biggest question of the film has always boiled down to one thing: is Timothee Chalamet good enough to replace Gene Wilder? No. But he is perfectly fine here, just about being able to replicate Wilder’s goofy and animated persona.

I think it is the same situation we had when Will Smith was cast as the Genie in 2019’s ‘Aladdin’, taking over from Robin Williams truly irreplaceable character. Smith did a good enough job but was never going to do any better than Williams. Timothee Chalamet is watchable here, but he isn’t Wilder; him and Williams being among some of the greatest comics and personalities in cinematic history, who just cannot be replaced. Moving forward though, he will do alright. As someone who is not into musicals, I had no issue with the set pieces. If anything, this is the kind of film that maybe does require some song and dance to go with it as it does have that kind of bubbly and animated personality. Everyone can hold a note perfectly fine as well, nothing sounded too off. I didn’t even know Chalamet or Grant could sing, but they do fine here.

Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa is not in the film as much as you’d think, the character is reduced to a role when it is just their set up which I was not expecting and he’s not even introduced until quite far into the story. He is underused but this is quite clearly the reason. He is fine in the film and I rather enjoyed watching him – he’s quite funny as well- that is if you can look past the uncanny valley of his CGI which actually looked really good (I thought at least). I am not actually sure what the scaling of the Oompa Loompas are supposed to be. In the 1971 and 2005 iterations, actors of restricted growth have portrayed the characters, but not here. Grant’s version is apparently eighteen inches in height. When people first saw the images of him in the film, they asked (so did I), if he was too short. I’m sure those who are more familiar with the book will know for sure.

One performance that I just couldn’t get on board with and found a little wooden unfortunately was Calah Lane’s ‘Noodle’. There are lots of famous British faces in there too which was nice to see (which I’m guessing is thanks to British producer David Heyman), including Matt Lucas and Matthew Baynton as some of the villains who get to flex their comedic muscles. As a film that seemed like such a bad idea and could have gone so wrong, it’s a really nice and funny family trip to the cinema.

In cinema now.

Overall Rating: 7.5 – good

Target Audience: PG

Content Warning: mild threat, violence, mild bad language

Recommendation: Yes