Tuesday 26 December 2023

REVIEW: Wonka (2023 Film) - Starring Timothée Chalamet

Review by Jon Donnis
"Wonka," the 2023 musical fantasy film directed by Paul King, offers a delightful twist to the classic tale of Willy Wonka's chocolate empire. Starring Timothée Chalamet as the titular character, the film explores the early days of the enigmatic chocolatier in a whimsical and visually captivating manner.

The plot unfolds as Wonka, portrayed with charm by Chalamet, faces financial struggles and an unscrupulous boardinghouse owner, played convincingly by Olivia Colman. The film introduces the character of Noodle, played by the talented Calah Lane, who becomes Wonka's assistant and adds a heartwarming dynamic to the story.

One of the film's strengths lies in its ensemble cast, featuring standout performances from Keegan-Michael Key as the chocolate-addicted chief of police, Paterson Joseph as the cunning Arthur Slugworth, and Hugh Grant as the endearing Oompa-Loompa, Lofty. The chemistry among the cast members contributes to the film's overall appeal.

The musical aspect of "Wonka" is a mixed bag, with some solid new songs adding to the whimsical atmosphere. However, the film might alienate viewers who are not fans of musicals due to the abundance of musical numbers. Additionally, while the film brings back the joy and optimism associated with the chocolate factory, it falls short of capturing the darker undertones present in Roald Dahl's original stories.

Visually, "Wonka" impresses with its charming set designs and creative use of visual effects. The film successfully creates a fantastical world that complements the magical nature of Willy Wonka's original chocolate factory.

On the downside, some might find the portrayal of Wonka lacking the dark edge seen in previous adaptations. In an attempt to make the character more likable, the film sacrifices some of the edginess present in Dahl's original stories. This departure from the source material might disappoint those who appreciate the darker and weirder aspects of Dahl's work.

In conclusion, "Wonka" is a heartfelt, funny, and whimsical film that brings joy to audiences, especially children. While it may not fully capture the darkness of Dahl's original stories or the inventiveness of the 1971 film, it introduces a fresh take on the beloved character. The film's few missteps, such as an excess of musical numbers and a somewhat softened Wonka, prevent it from reaching the heights of its predecessors. Nevertheless, "Wonka" remains a solid entry in the Wonka film legacy, earning a respectable 7.5 out of 10.

In cinemas now
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