As a rule, I don’t love musicals, there is something unnatural about actors bursting into song. I didn’t realise Wonka was a musical until Timothee Chalamet launched into the opening song.
Wonka is the origin story of the Roald Dahl tale. This prequel tells the story of Willy as he arrives in town to begin his career in chocolate. Wonka meets an unscrupulous B&B owner, played by the excellent Olivia Colman and ends up in the laundry to pay his debts.
Then there is the chocolate.
Fantastic creations made with a mixture of magic and incredible ingredients. The finale scene is a homage to the 1971 movie, with many call backs to the Mel Stuart original.
Chalamet is extraordinary. His Wonka is light hearted, funny and at home with the magical qualities. There are great comedic turns from a super ensemble cast. Rowan Atkinson playing his usual vicar. Matt Lucas bring us a dastardly chocolate cartel owner. Tom Davis gives an excellent performance as the sidekick to Olivia Colmans villainous Mrs Scrubbit.
The scene stealer is Hugh Grant. He plays the original Oompah Loompa who has been digitally ‘shrunk’ to live in a jar for part of the story. It's a perfect performance, and the best laughs in the film.
On screen, the world created is exquisite.
The magical chocolate shop in the finale is has callbacks to the original film. There is scene where Wonka and his sidekick Noodle, played beautifully by Calah Lane, fly over the city powered by balloons.
The soundtrack from the film has more than a nod to the 1971 version, and contains new songs composed by Neil Hannon from Divine Comedy.
I surprised how much I loved this film. The original Gene Wilder interpretation of Willy Wonka is a fond favourite and is imprinted on my heart. Chalamet plays the origin story perfectly and this is a worthy prequel to an all-time classic.