There is very little that is sweet and decadent about the new version of Wonka from Warner Bros. It doesn’t make a lick of sense either given the talent behind the camera and on stage which could have been so confectionary for a wonderful new chocolaty movie. Still, at the end of the day – it’s a flat-out dud with no heart or soul until the final five minutes. Did Slugworth make this movie?
No, he didn’t. British filmmaker Paul King was the magical eye this time, which should have given this an automatic A+ due to his previous two films, Paddington and Paddington 2, which have 100% ratings on the vegetable scoring outlet. Not only that, Timothee Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Olivia Coleman, and Keegan Michael Key are all front and center to dazzle audiences. There was no dazzling, but rather a droopy drizzle of months-old molasses on a tired story that can never seem to capture that original film’s magic.
Allegedly, it was stated that Wonka is supposed to be a prequel to the events of the original film, but that is a flat-out lie. There is absolutely no tie-in with the Gene wIlder movie other than a couple of characters named Wonka and Slugworth who is a different character altogether. Then of course there is the case of one Oompa Loompa – played brilliantly by Hugh Grant with his cheeky attitude and penchant for stealing chocolate as a way of payment in some sort of Lannister-type of debt from an unknowing Wonka. And even though Grant got second billing in the cast, he’s in the movie for less than five minutes – barely a cameo.
A prequel idea for Wonka is good in theory, but King would rather thrust a newly wide-eyed WInka with no money into his eventual home where he is thwarted by a cartoonish couple who run a hotel that doubles as a sweatshop with a cast of characters who are looking to escape their working prison. Silly Looney-Tunes style hinjinks and songs continue on as none of these characters are even talked about in the original film, but seem to have made a big impact on the titular character. If the goal was to showcase sequences that would only entertain a seven-year-old, then it was successful. But nothing in the way of chocolate magic or how Wonka developed his unorthodox personality is revealed.
The new songs are uninspiring and instantly forgettable with no real beat or rhyme. Nobody would sing these new tunes and smile. The only true meaning of the film comes in the last five minutes which does bring a great sense of what this movie could have been – sweet. Instead, it is filled with the gooey sewage of trite silliness that is void of any real entertaining value other than to make children under seven laugh – maybe. The sets are riddled with CGI and all of the practical machines and wonder look like a digital carwash with no pure imagination. The same goes with the costumes – it’s lacking anything memorable or tasteful.
Chalamet is always wonderful and brings charm to the iconic role, but there is nothing there other than surface material. Wonka is a rigid farce of a film that is definitely not a prequel to the original movie. This is something else entirely that is bitter, cold, and ultimately rotten chocolate. Skip It.