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A confection as saccharine sweet and indulgent as new musical prequel Wonka won’t be to everyone’s taste but I found it to be an ideal Christmas treat, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

One can be critical about several aspects of Wonka, the prequel to the cherished Roald Dahl story that shows how chocolatier Willy Wonka rose to prominence and established his chocolate factory.

The movie is an exceedingly polished, sanitised affair to start with, with little of the thinly veiled cynicism that meandered throught the 1971 Gene Wilder movie. Bar the wonderfully sung and choreographed first tune none of the new musical numbers really stand out either, while the supportive characters are played like pantomime roles and the narrative takes a few too many leaps of childish logic.

And yet, little of that matters when you're watching a film that's so boisterous, energetic and joyful it will thaw the coldest heart. From the exquisite production design to the colourful costumes and the crisp editing, Wonka is a spectacle aiming to please and overwhelmingly succeeds at it.

The movie's biggest asset is Timothée Chalamets lead character though. The actor doesn't get many opportunies to stretch his acting muscles, but Chalamet effortlessly carries each scene with his charms and puts a giddy smile on your face every time he is on-screen.

In short: while cynics might label it the umpteenth calculated IP money grab, Wonka will probably delight a lot of people this Christmas and deservedly so.

release: 2023

director: Paul King

starring: Timothée Chalamet, Calah Lane, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant


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