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‘Wonka’ Review: A World of Pure Imagination or Chalamet’s First Cringey Role?

by Lois Geal

A prequel to the 1971 classic starring Gene Wilder, or the 2005 remake starring Johnny Depp, Wonka focuses on the backstory of the titular wacky, joyous and eager chocolatier. 

Following his return from a seven year excursion, Willy Wonka attempts to make his way in the world as the most renowned chocolate maker. 

Throughout the film, Wonka is faced with the ups and downs you’d expect from the life of a candy-maker. Whilst navigating his business venture, he meets a group of workers in a launderette, most notably a young girl named Noodle, who follow him on his journey. 

Running into issues with the police and facing the Chocolate Cartel, a trio consisting of well-known chocolate makers, the movie is as silly as you’d expect, perfect for the Christmas season. 

Illuminating the humble beginnings of the quirky character in a way we never thought we would see, Wonka is played by Call Me By Your Name heartthrob, Timothée Chalamet. 

Throughout the film, Chalamet is able to capture the same energy we all felt watching Gene Wilder. His mannerisms, temperament, humor, wittiness, and enthusiasm is unmatched, making himself a convincing younger version of the Willy Wonka we know and love. 

At first, with releases of that teaser clip, many seemed skeptical of how well he would perform, but Timothée Chalament proved us all wrong. 

Another charming performance is that of Calah Lane as Noodle, the orphan worker Wonka meets in the film. Her companionship matched with Chalamet’s well-natured character, displays such emotion and hope. 

Lane’s character is confused and silenced initially but, through Wonka, she finds herself and her confidence. 

Surprisingly, Hugh Grant as Lofty, a cunning, ill-humoured, and persistently annoying Oompa Loompa, was played fabulously, too! Determined to make Wonka pay for his crime of stealing from Loompaland, Lofty add a funny element of excitement to the story - even though his appearance totals just short of half an hour. 

Though his screen time was limited, Hugh Grant’s performance as an Oompa Loompa is both comical and entertaining. He really does capture the disposition of the Oompa Loompa’s from the 1971 film and even sings in the original riddle-like voice and rhythm from the 1971 film too.

Plus, it’s great to see Grant in a less serious role, with most of us watching him as the sexy Prime Minister in Love Actually and cocky Daniel Cleaner in Bridget Jones this festive season. 

With appearances from Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, and company, each add even more laughs and interest to the film, too. 

Just like the original film, the score and compositions add wonder to the story. Some tunes even contains subtle odes to the songs we heard in the original. Such light-heartedness and beauty give the music such importance and depth, truly encapsulating the movement and tone of the film.

As for the CGI, practical effects, and scenery, everything was spot on. Seemingly real, you’ll leave the cinema thinking making chocolate that can make you fly or coming across little orange men with green hair could actually happen! 

Overall, Wonka is the perfect new festive film, not only because of its lighthearted laughs but how it is provides a welcome backstory for both literature and cinema’s most iconic character. 

Edited by Emily Duff

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