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Wonka Review: Timothée Chalamet Delivers A Sweet & Whimsical Prequel
Sometimes, we yearn for a delectable treat that will satisfy our cravings, and Wonka undeniably fulfils this desire by serving up its sweetness in a delightful package. Directed by Paul King, the renowned filmmaker behind the beloved Paddington movies, this film seamlessly blends animation and live-action, creating an enjoyable all-ages adventure that serves as a delightful introduction to the chocolaty realm of Wonka. This raises an intriguing question: Is Wonka a worthy prequel to the renowned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Let’s delve deeper to uncover the answer.
The film revolves around the character of Willy Wonka, who is portrayed by Timothée Chalamet. Willy is a young man with aspirations of opening a chocolate shop. Driven by a promise he made to his mother, he embarks on a journey to an unknown, vaguely Western European town. His dream is to share his beloved chocolate with the entire world. However, his encounter with the innkeeper, Mrs Scrubbit, played by Olivia Colman, leads him down a path of indentured servitude. Willy and a ragtag group of companions, each with their own distinct personalities, work together to devise a plan to escape the clutches of the menacing innkeeper. Their plan becomes entangled in the intricate web of deceit operated by the Chocolate Cartel, comprised of Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Prodnose (Matt Lucas), and Ficklegruber (Mathew Baynton).
Timothée Chalamet radiates brilliance as he delivers captivating musical performances. Moreover, Chalamet effectively portrays the weight of carrying the film on his shoulders, with admirable dedication. He seamlessly blends elements of wit and imagination, infusing the character with a whimsical sense of humour and a genuine enthusiasm for his craft.
While undoubtedly enjoyable for newcomers, fans of Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may find this latest version lacking in terms of character substance. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Willy Wonka sees him as a mad genius chocolate maker with an eccentric and off-putting personality, in stark contrast to Chalamet’s interpretation. Depp’s portrayal highlighted Wonka’s eccentricities, while Chalamet’s portrayal offered a more approachable and charming iteration of the character.
The cast of characters, which includes notable actors such as Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Keegan-Michael Key, and Calah Lane, among others, brings a huge extra layer of enchantment to the production. The setting is a mesmerizing fusion of spun sugar and fantastical delights that will undoubtedly captivate the eyes. The vibrant colours, particularly the pastels and jewel tones showcased in Wonka’s shop, evoke a sense of nostalgia, as viewers are transported to a world where chocolate miracles are brought to life by the one and only Willy Wonka.
In terms of the movie’s pacing, its duration feels excessively elongated. Initially, it begins at a sluggish pace, especially during the initial scene where Willy adapts to his circumstances (being lied to, trapped, and bullied) upon arriving in the enigmatic European town. Having to progress from the start to the middle of the film, there are perhaps around 3 to 4 musical performances viewers will have to watch. For those who do not generally enjoy musical films, this prolonged depiction of the protagonist’s progression can be tedious. However, it is not all negative, as there are humorous moments and a beautiful backdrop that provides some relief.
Wonka as a whole offers a fun and sweet prequel that captivates audiences of all ages with its delightful fusion of catchy music, stunning production design, and a star-studded cast. Although the film may deviate from Wonka’s portrayal in the 2005 film, it undeniably delivers a cinematic experience filled with charm and magic.
We attended an early screener of Wonka courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia. Wonka is slated to premiere in Malaysian cinemas on 7 December 2023.
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