FeaturesMovie ReviewsReviews

‘Wonka’ Movie Review: A Delicious Addition to Willy Wonka’s Legacy

Share this:

Willy Wonka is an iconic character that was has been slightly forgotten in recent years. His story started in 1964 with Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, and was later adapted and continued in films. But after 18 years, we’ve finally got a film that will explore Willy Wonka’s character and genius more than ever before. Willy Wonka’s story is full of adventures, unimaginable innovations and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. So get ready, prepare your favorite sweets, and let’s dive into the chocolate waterfall that is this new Wonka movie from Warner Bros.

Wonka tells a fresh and touching story

Wonka is the newest movie based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the past, there were films that adapted this novel, but neither focused on the story of Willy Wonka. The first released in 1971 and starred the late great Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory).

But I, and many people I know, are more familiar with the Tim Burton’s version released in 2005, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton’s version starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. This incarnation was a sad person that hides behind his innovations and fame. While watching it, you understand the tragedy of Willy Wonka. He was a lonely person who just tried to make his only family left proud of him and his accomplishments. Unfortunately, this was only a very short part explored in this movie.

Thankfully, the newest project gives us a story that will warm your heart. Paul King, the director of Wonka, directed both Paddington movies and was a producer of the Harry Potter movies. And you can see inspirations from them in this project by finding different motives, scenes, and characters that are similar.

Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka
Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka (Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Everything that you loved about those movies is visible in this new Wonka movie. It’s more of a story about a kid, who achieved success all on his own, and respects all he has; rather than about a sad crazy genius who is lost in life. The movie starts by showing us why Willy (Timothée Chalamet) has such motivation to be the best innovator ever.  It’s because of his late mother (played by Sally Hawkins) who inspired him since he was a kid, and always cared for him.

Willy’s goal is to be the best there is, and we can see him innovating different things throughout the movie. But there’s one thing that he knows people will love more than a complicated and crazy toy, and that’s chocolate!

Even though that Willy must fight through the obstacles that are thrown his way, his passion, and determination to achieve his life goals are admirable. I doubt that I’ve seen such a unique character who’s so passionate and easy to identify with more in last year than Willy Wonka. His story is very moving and touching. When he’s sad, we’re sad. When he’s happy, we’re happy. 

The whole story is a mix of humor, heart, emotions, and melancholy. The exploration of Wonka’s character goes beyond our imagination of the genius chocolatier that we’re familiar with from Johnny Depp’s or Gene Wilder’s versions.

Book Review: Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Wonka Books Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator Banner

Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka is a big win

I’m not a big fan of Timothée Chalamet, basically only because I don’t know much of his work. The only projects I’ve seen him in were Dune, Little Women and The French Dispatch. But when I was watching this movie, from the first minute, I thought that this IS a young Willy Wonka and I like him. My vision of this character was different before the movie, but I’m still more surprised rather than disappointed about what we’ve got.

Chalamet’s role as Wonka was remarkable, emotional, crazy and had much impact at the same time. There are moments where I had some problems with the way his character was written, but ultimately, it all made much more sense in the end. He was just evolving through this story.

Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka
Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka (Warner Bros. Pictures)

In this film, Willy Wonka is a very likable character because of how we can identify with him. At some point, I felt like I was a kid again, and I wanted to be Willy Wonka. The emotions and passion of Willy Wonka are a big part of this story because with each obstacle he faces, we know that his goal is to do what his late mother couldn’t do. It’s also the first movie where she appears, and she’s the most important part of Willy’s story. He’s doing it not only for himself, but also for his mother, who only wanted to give joy to the people. 

Willy’s friends are what makes this story even more fun

Among the friends of Willy are Noodle (Calah Lane) and an Oompa-Loompa played by Hugh Grant. While both of them are a big part of Willy’s journey, I paid more attention to Willy’s and Oompa-Loompa’s relationship. They both were funny and sarcastic but also very much supportive. Hugh Grant was great cast as an Oompa-Loompa and I hope if there are future projects, we’ll get to see him again. Mainly because there was something in the history of his character that I’d really love to see explored at some point.

Noodle, on the other hand, is a spirited and resourceful young girl. Her background as an orphan adds more to her relationship with Willy, and it helps us to explore the themes of family, which are very important. The first moment she tastes Willy’s chocolate is kind of amazing, and I imagine it’s like when we first taste excellent chocolate for the first time.

Hugh Grant as Oompa Loompa Wonka
Hugh Grant as Oompa Loompa (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The main villains of this story are some nasty rich people who don’t want anyone to be their competition on the chocolate market. They’re called The Chocolate Cartel. But, the film cleverly makes this conflict a perfect narrative for Willy to evolve and adapt to the situation. It makes the stakes even more significant for Willy and his friends. They know that they can bring joy and happiness to people in the city, but they have to do everything possible to achieve it.

The resolution is both satisfying and bittersweet because the whole point of this story and Willy’s past is mixed into one. Making this journey even more focused on important things like family, friends, happiness and not on money, worldwide fame and selfishness. 

Wonka movie is a story for the whole family

I won’t act like I didn’t cry during this movie because I did. Emotional scenes really overtook a big part of this movie and didn’t even try to make you keep your emotions at bay. The movie is also partially a musical. The musical numbers, are a hallmark of Wonka’s world and a big part of Willy’s development. Each song has its point, and they aren’t wasted, making them very often a highlight of the film.

The songs also serve as a way to tell the stories from the past, and underline what’s important during some scenes. Whether you like musicals or not, this movie makes them really enjoyable and doesn’t bore you. Wonka is great for families to go see, and it will make you laugh, smile and cry together.

This film not only pays homage to its beloved predecessors, but it creates its own niche/chapter in the legacy of Roald Dahl and Willy Wonka. There’s something in this movie that makes it even crazier and more fun for me, and I can’t wait to experience again. Especially with my friends and family.

My rating for this film:

★★★★ / ♥♥♥♥½

Wonka arrives in theaters everywhere starting December 15th. Are you planning to go see this movie? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!

Cosmic Psychologist: Wonka and Personal Motivations

Wonka motivation banner

Review:  Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Review Banner

Wonka Sweetens Up with New Castings and Some Spoilery Plot Revelations

wonka report

Share this:

Wiktor Reinfuss

Big fan of all sorts of pop culture stuff. I also enjoy ambitious cinema. Games, music and graphics are all within my interests. I have a great fondness for the Arrowverse series, especially The Flash.

Wiktor Reinfuss has 127 posts and counting. See all posts by Wiktor Reinfuss