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average rating is 4 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Jan 13, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Paul King
Written by:
Simon Farnaby, Paul King, Roald Dahl
Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Calah Lane

In the distant realms of childhood it’s a fair bet that Roald Dahl featured in the literary choices made by most. A magical mix of imagination and youthful humour would easily put him on reading lists. This latest iteration of the kids’ classic doesn’t disappoint with a beautifully packaged combination of music and special effects. Director Paul King cut his teeth on Paddington and producer David Heyman has Harry Potter among his many credits. It’s therefore safe to say the story is in very safe hands.


Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) arrives in town with dreams of becoming a chocolatier. He has an eye on the shop he’d like to buy but decides to rest at the sanctuary run by Mrs Scrubitt (Olivia Colman). Noodle (Calah Lane) warns him not to sign anything. However he signs a contract that condemns him to a life of drudgery and debt. In a dark and grimy laundry Willy toils with Noodle and Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter). With the help of his new friends he secretly weaves a magical recipe that quickly alerts the local cartel of chocolatiers. The cartel led by Slugworth (Paterson Joseph) is determined to stop him and enlist the help of the local constabulary. If that isn’t enough he is dogged by a troublesome Oompa Loompa (Hugh Grant) regarding the small matter of some stolen cocoa beans.


There’s no doubting the brilliance of a film that takes on board everything modern technology can offer. Hugh Grant’s delightful cameo as an Oompa Loompa is a marvel of computer generated imagery. The design is drawn from a vivid colour box that blends perfectly with a luxurious soundtrack. There are new songs written for the film by Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy. He adds a characteristic dose of whimsy especially on ‘A World of Your Own’. However, it doesn’t quite reach the melodic precision of ‘Pure Imagination’ a song from the 1971 film.


As an ensemble piece it works superbly with a bright cast that obviously revelled in the experience. Timothée Chalamet brings a vital charm and sense of mischief to the title role, whilst Olivia Colman is great fun as the evil Mrs Scrubitt. Some may find Wonka overly bland and loaded with sickly sweet sentiment. It is a children’s fantasy but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t appeal across the board.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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