“Wonka” (2023)

When I first heard about the idea of a prequel to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” delving into the early years of Willy Wonka, I was skeptical. The flashbacks in Tim Burton’s version had left a sour taste, and the thought of revisiting Wonka’s past didn’t sit well with me. However, my perspective took a complete 180 when Paul King, the genius behind Paddington 1 & 2, stepped into the picture.⠀

Timothée Chalamet as the lead raised an eyebrow for me, and the trailers seemed to confirm my doubts. Yet, as I walked out of the cinema, I found myself in disbelief at how much I adored this movie.⠀

Wonka” turned out to be one of the most enjoyable films I’ve experienced this year. It embraces the weirdness of the source material, skillfully blended with heart—the hallmark of Paul King’s directorial magic evident in every scene.⠀

Chalamet, to his credit, grasped the essence of the character without diving into the “creepy” territory. He skillfully channels traits reminiscent of Gene Wilder’s version while showcasing a side of Chalamet we’ve never seen before—a classic Hollywood actor who sings, dances, cracks jokes, and evokes genuine tears from the audience. This is an extreme step outside of his box, especially when his recent films like Beautiful Boy and Bones and All are completely opposite in terms of genre and theme.⠀

The chemistry between Chalamet and Calah Lane, who plays Noodle, stands out as a highlight. The film focuses more on their connection than on how Willy became Wonka, contrary to what the marketing led us to believe.⠀

The ensemble cast delivers outstanding performances, pouring their souls into the movie. Hugh Grant, despite limited screen time, steals every scene, making even the credit roll a worthwhile sit. Even though the visual portrayal of the Oompa Loompas might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Grant’s infectious energy overshadows any initial reservations

Technically, the film is a work of art. Jeong Jeong-hun’s cinematography, initially an unexpected choice given his previous work on films like “Oldboy,” proves to be a stroke of genius. The production design, led by Nathan Crowley (known for Nolan’s movies) and art direction by Tom Brown (associated with “Dune”), showcases Paul King’s knack for assembling a stellar team both behind and in front of the camera.⠀

“Wonka” may not resonate with hardcore fans, as it presents a different facet of the iconic character they know. Additionally, its musical core might pose a challenge for some audiences. However, for others, this film is destined to become another classic—a perfect addition to the holiday season lineup.⠀

As we reflect on Willy Wonka’s various portrayals, “Wonka” adds a refreshing layer to the character’s legacy.⠀

Who do you think played Willy Wonka the best?




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