Thursday 17 August 2023

REVIEW: Wonderwell (2023) - Starring Rita Ora and Carrie Fisher

Review by Jon Donnis
I suppose I should do an Oasis reference here, but I am guessing every other critic on the planet has already done it, so I will give it a miss.

"Wonderwell" is a heartwarming family film that delivers solid entertainment for all ages. While the storyline may not break new ground in terms of originality, it manages to captivate its audience with its charming characters, imaginative world and impressive visual effects.

One of the film's notable aspects is its inclusion of the late Carrie Fisher, who graces the screen with her final presence in what is sadly a small role. Her appearance, alongside popstar Rita Ora, adds a touch of nostalgia and interest to the long-awaited fantasy film.

At its core, "Wonderwell" follows the journey of Violet (Kiera Milward), a young girl with an insatiable curiosity that sets her apart from her family, and who believes she is a witch. The film kicks off in Italy, where Violet's yearning for familial closeness leads her to bake cookies infused with a magical spell of togetherness. As the story unfolds, her sister Savannah (Nell Tiger Free) becomes the chosen face of a renowned fashion mogul, Jana (Rita Ora). The film interweaves these narratives, showcasing the challenges and aspirations of both Violet and Savannah.

The film takes an enchanting turn when Violet discovers a well of wonders in a mystical forest. A chance encounter with Hazel (Carrie Fisher) opens up a world of magic and self-discovery for Violet. The two worlds collide when Violet inadvertently switches places with her counterpart from the alternate reality. The stakes are set, as Violet must return to her own world before the next sunrise, or be trapped in this new reality forever.

While the plot might not offer groundbreaking originality, it excels in delivering a wholesome family experience. The characters' journey of growth and understanding is heartening to witness, and the film's lush visuals and magical settings capture the imagination. Young viewers, in particular, will find themselves drawn to the relatable themes of self-discovery and the power of family bonds. At just over 90 minutes it is also not too long.

The Good
Great visual effects and a nice story makes this easy viewing. Despite passing away a while ago, it is nice to see Carrie Fisher is what became her final film. I just wish she had a larger role in the story.

The Bad
There are some issues with pacing, and I fear that younger children might get bored.

Wonderwell earns its stripes as a commendable family-friendly film. It might not revolutionize the genre, but it succeeds in delivering an endearing story that should resonate with audiences of all ages. With the late Carrie Fisher's final onscreen appearance and a dash of enchantment, the film weaves a charming tapestry of magic, self-discovery, and the importance of familial connections.

 The film earns a respectable 6 out of 10 for its efforts in creating an enjoyable viewing experience.

Out Now on Digital