Before The Golden Ticket: Wonka Movie Review

December 28, 2023

By Marc Peoples

Come to Harlem and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.

Now that Christmas is over experience a new tale of Willy Wonka. Wonka is an original story based on Roald Dahl’s character Willy Wonka from his timeless classic novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This time we are presented with an origin story of how he started as an Aspiring magician, inventor, and of course chocolatier.

Performed by Timothée Chalamet along with an ensemble cast including Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, and upcoming star, Calah Lane. This is a fun film for the entire family and for those who grew up on the 1971 classic starring Gene Wilder. 

First, the film is a musical and it’s very nostalgic for some of the songs are from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Chalamet’s singing may not be as memorable as Wilder’s, but he still did a pretty good job.

Hugh Grant sings as an Oompa-Loompa named Lofty, and his songs feel more enjoyable; probably due to his past comedic roles, or maybe he’s just a great Oompa-Loompa. The new songs in the film are fine, so don’t expect them to be on the same level as the classics. 

Chalamet puts in a great performance as Willy Wonka but at the same time, it’s a mixed bag as well. If you’re familiar with Chalamet, this isn’t like the characters he’s played in his past films. You see his optimistic side for a change.

Though he’s a younger version of Gene Wilder’s, it’s hard to see how this young good-natured, and naïve inventor became the strange, cynical, but eccentric man who’s not afraid to scare children. It’s not the performance itself but the portrayal of the character. I will say he’s nothing like the creepy one from Tim Burton’s film. Chalamet is also nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.

A standout from the film was Wonka’s young assistant, Noodles played by Calah Lane. Unlike most teenage characters, Noodles is not annoying. She’s sassy, smart, and has her own arc.

The other side characters might come off as cartoonish for some. The villains are the over-the-top businessmen who are known as the “Chocolate Cartel” who work together to eliminate Wonka. Keegan-Michael Key plays the comedic Chief of Police who has a chocolate addiction. Hugh Grant’s Lofty honors the Oompa-Loompas as people with dignity. 

Another plus goes to Paul King’s direction. If you’ve seen the Paddington movies you know that this should be a fun movie to watch… and it is. Despite how you feel about Wonka whether you think it is for kids or the family, you will walk out of the theater feeling some enjoyment.

Overall, it’s a “feel-good movie” and that’s what we should be feeling this time of year, so as the new year approaches visit the AMC Magic Johnson Theater Harlem 9 before 2023 ends.

Related: Watch the “Wonka” movie on Amazon.

Warning: This movie might put you in the mood to eat some chocolate; try not to overeat it.

Marc Peoples

Marc Peoples is a writer, film, and game enthusiast with a full range of electronic or digital games experience, who lives on the West Coast in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated with honors from the Los Angeles Film School (LAFS), where he studied film and screenwriting.

Photo credit: Source.

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