Wonka, the new hit movie by Warner Bros, directed by Paul King is like slipping into something warm and cosy, ideal for this time of year.
Whilst it is a new take on a much-told story, it offers some clever nods towards previous versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do and Pure Imagination songs, both made famous in the 1971 version starring Gene Wilder are given a new lease of life by Hugh Grant and Timothee Chalamet. Whilst this is not a true musical, it does have a wonderful soundtrack which punctuates the fast pace of the movie and when you realise Joby Talbot and Neil Hannon, (famous for being one half of pop group The Divine Comedy) are responsible for composing the soundtrack, you understand where the catchy, whimsical, show-stopping numbers originate from.
The story is a prequal to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and provides the background to how Willy Wonka became the master chocolatier we later recognise him as. Although, this bright-eyed, joyful Willy does not possess any of the darkness we see in other incarnations which makes me think, is there another film in the offing to fill in the gaps? Willy arrives in an unnamed European town full of hope and ambition but this doesn’t last long when he runs out of money and must compromise on his choice of lodgings – with the utterly brilliant Olivia Coleman playing landlady Mrs Scrubbit and Tom Davis as her sidekick Bleacher. These two provide much of the comedy and whilst you cannot deny they are in the ‘baddy’ camp, they provide the light relief versus the true baddies – the Chocolate Conglomerate made up of Ficklegruber, Prodnose and Slugworth (Mathew Baynton, Matt Lucas and Paterson Joseph). Their constant efforts at bribing Chief of Police Keegan-Michael Kay with chocolate results in the costume department excelling at subtly increasing the size of his uniform as he gains weight throughout the film.
However, it is the friendship between Willy and Noodle (Calah Lane) that provides the warmth of the film. They have such a refreshingly uncomplicated relationship – both championing the other, along with their other friends at the laundry. The fantastical plots and schemes they work on as a team enable Willy to sell his innovative chocolate and confectionary all over the city, which is the dream he has had since his childhood, inspired by his mother, believably played by Sally Hawkins in flashbacks.
It is full of clever dialogue, humour, a catchy soundtrack and a fast-paced story, never once slowing down. Timothee Chalomet is charming and incredibly talented as Willy (the choreography and singing are seamless without being too ‘showy’) and despite knowing how the eventual story turns out thanks to Roald Dahl, you can’t help but feel it is this character that has actually proved to be the star over all these years, not Charlie after all.
By Sarah Canning – Student Accommodation Features Editor – Student Pages Magazine