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Home > ‘Wonka’ (2023): A Review

‘Wonka’ (2023): A Review

“Wonka” delivers witty characters, breathtaking atmospheres, and lively music, leaving viewers wanting more. Wonka talks with oompa loompa in a glass bell jar.

The Perfect Film to View Paradise

Gather around, folks. This is not any ordinary movie. Paul King’s Wonka (2023) tells the imaginative story of how Willy Wonka came to be. Follow Wonka, a young aspiring inventor with a hatful of dreams, as he opens a chocolate shop in a city renowned for its chocolate. However, things soon turn sour as Wonka discovers that a cartel of greedy and corrupt chocolatiers runs the industry. So sit back and relax–” scratch that, reverse it.” Prepare to be amazed as this tale is full of dreams, chocolate, and pure imagination. 

A Nice Treat for All

For those who are wondering whether or not this film lives up to the hype, fear not. Viewers who grew up with the classic Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp films will surely be taking a trip down memory lane. Wonka is filled to the brim with nostalgia, including several nods to the old movies while retaining something new and exciting. Set as a prequel, it answers a lot of questions from the old movies regarding who Willy Wonka is, the Oompa Loompas, and where he learned to create such amazing chocolate. 

Interestingly enough, it also describes the origin of Slugworth–the suspicious figure in black who works for Willy Wonka–and their relationship. But for those who haven’t seen the old movies, the film is still very enjoyable. Wonka itself functions well as its own story. Along with Willy Wonka is a whole new cast of characters. So, while there are some returning characters, the plot is still coherent to those who are new to the Wonkaverse. 

A Cast as Sweet as It Gets

Another great aspect of the movie is the witty characters and the enjoyable banter between the actors. The cast stars Timothée Chalamet, Gustave Die, and Murray McArthur. It is also directed by Paul King and is written by Simon Farnabay, Paul King, and Roald Dahl. Timothée Chalamet delivers a superb performance as Wonka, implementing characteristics from Wilder and Depp’s portrayals while bringing his own twist of jollyness to the titular character. Not only that, but his camaraderie with Noodle (Celah Lane) is rather sweet (pun intended). His promise of delivering dreams, happiness, and freedom shines a new light on Wonka and presents him as a father figure for Noodle, something lacking in the classics. Other characters like Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar), Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), and Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher) function as great support characters who bring a sense of family to the group. 

Fans of the Mr. Bean franchise and Key & Peele YouTube channel may also be pleasantly surprised to know that Keegan-Michael Key and Rowan Atkinson also play minor but goofy roles in the film.

“Wonka” delivers witty characters, breathtaking atmospheres, and lively music, leaving viewers wanting more. Wonka tips his hat at the camera in the town square.

But the best character interactions must be between the Oompa Loompa (Hugh Grant) and Willy Wonka. The two present almost a brother-like relationship, and their banter is sure to make viewers laugh their heads off. Moreover, Hugh’s portrayal of the Oompa Loompa is very cartoonish and adds a lot of whimsical flavor, as it is a delight whenever he shows up on screen. 

Prepare for Eye-Candy Views  

Perhaps one of the best aspects of this film is that, just like the classics, it is also a musical. Complete with several toe-tapping songs; the film excels in enriching the atmosphere through many new musical numbers. These songs help make the characters feel expressive and cleverly transition from one scene to the next, making the world feel alive. But, it also takes special care to reprise some of the original ones, which shows much love and appreciation for the older films. And yes, for those who are wondering, Timothée Chalamet can indeed sing. 

Other great parts of the film would have to be the set design and special effects. Both Willy Wonka movies are known for their extravagant sets with colorful atmospheres and architecture that just look oh-so edible. Wonka maintains this same magic as there are many bright colors, as seen through the props, candy, character costumes/design, and musical numbers. One prime example of this would be when Wonka is caught daydreaming in the town square as dancers with red outfits and yellow umbrellas surround him. The special effects help emphasize these playful moments and even characterize the atmosphere. Some examples would be making the chocolate come to life, making dull buildings transform into bright and colorful areas, or illustrating character backgrounds through life-like drawings. All these elements help make the film feel so jubilant and jolly. Although for those who find colorful films to be overwhelming or uneasy on the eyes, this may not be the best film to watch. 

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, Wonka is very much a love letter to the classics but spends greater emphasis on the world built around Gene Wilder’s character. From the eccentric characters to the catchy musical numbers and vibrant atmosphere, the film perfectly blends the old and the new. Fans who grew up watching the chocolatier will enjoy all the little quips and nods referencing the older movies. Meanwhile, those unfamiliar with the Wonka world are still likely to have a blast as there are a lot of new characters, songs, and areas that have never been discovered before. Lastly, this film would be perfect to watch with friends or family as it has a very Disney-like tone to it. 

Wonka is available to watch in theaters now and is rated PG. It has a runtime of 1 hour and 56 minutes. 

“Wonka” delivers witty characters, breathtaking atmospheres, and lively music, leaving viewers wanting more. Willy Wonka dances in the town square with other dancers in a musical number.

Wonka (2023) Official Warner Bros. Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Marc Agbayani's favorite genres to write are fantasy, science fiction, horror, action,n and mystery. His inspiration for writing stems from his love of various forms of pop culture, such as the film series Star Wars by George Lucas and the video game series The Legend of Zelda by Shigeru Miyamoto. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, listening to music, going to the gym, and hosting game nights with friends

Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.