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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

"Wonka (2023) - Sweet Dreams and Bitter Realities."

Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5 stars)

Released 12-15-2023

Watched 12-17-2023

Reviewed 12-19-2023

Viewed in Theater - Using Cinemark Movie Club

"I've spent the past seven years travelling the world, perfecting my craft. You see I'm something of a magician, inventor, and chocolate maker. So quiet up, and listen down. Nope. Scratch that, reverse it."

"Wonka," the 2023 prequel to the beloved original "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)", brings a twist to the classic tale with Timothée Chalamet donning the iconic top hat of Willy Wonka. Set in a whimsical Europe, we see a young Willy Wonka as an aspiring magician, inventor, and chocolatier, eager to establish his mark at the Galeries Gourmet. The film creatively explores his struggles, showcasing his initial failures and the challenges he faces, including a stay at the dubious Mrs. Scrubitt's boarding house and his invention of 'hoverchocs' – a unique take on chocolates that enable people to fly.

However, for fans of the original movie and book, "Wonka" stumbles in its attempt to weave into the existing lore. The introduction of hoverchocs raises questions about the continuity of Wonka's inventions, considering the famous "Fizzy Lifting Drink" from the original. It's puzzling why such a groundbreaking invention in "Wonka" is never mentioned in the later story.

Moreover, the film's approach to the Oompa Loompas' backstory and the portrayal of the Sluggworth family feels underdeveloped and inconsistent with the established narrative. These elements could have been golden opportunities to delve deeper into the enigmatic world of Wonka, but they unfortunately fall flat.

Despite these issues, "Wonka" is visually captivating, with Chalamet delivering a charismatic and heartfelt performance. The set designs and costumes are a feast for the eyes, maintaining the magical atmosphere that fans adore. The film also injects fresh creativity into the franchise, though it struggles with balancing the original's charm with its new direction.

In conclusion, while "Wonka" is a visually stunning and imaginative film, it misses the mark in seamlessly integrating with the classic Wonka universe. It's a decent watch for those curious about Wonka's origins, but for die-hard fans, it may feel like a missed opportunity to capture the true essence of the magical world we've grown to love.


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