‘Wonka’ Review – Nobody Asked For This Charisma-Less Reboot At All

Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) is disappointed that his chocolate was not well received in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures
Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) is disappointed that his chocolate was not well received in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

Who asked for this movie? No, seriously, who asked for another Wonka film? Over the last 50 years, Hollywood has essentially tried to make as much money as they can off Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; the 1971 film that people actually liked.

A franchise that was beaten like a dead horse almost 20 years ago, when they decided to put Johnny Depp in the lead role of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory— a decision that turned out to be an epic disaster then.

Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) introduces his guest to his secret Everlasting Gobstoppers in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), Warner Bros. Pictures

So what does Hollywood decide to do? ‘Let’s reboot the movie two decades later with the actor with even less charisma than Johnny Depp.’

Timothée Chalamet is an actor who does… things, I guess, and he stars in Wonka; one of the most soulless reboots of the 2020s so far. The film serves as an origin story to explain how we got the wild man behind the chocolate factory to begin with.

Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) makes his grandiose entrance in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Warner Bros. Pictures
Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) makes his grandiose entrance in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Warner Bros. Pictures

Set during the time of an old-timey English city, the film follows the title character of Willy Wonka; a 20-something-year-old candy maker and inventor whose dream is to open up his own chocolate shop in the new town. Wonka’s dreams and ambitions are not welcomed by Big Chocolate (Yes, you read that right) — a corrupt cartel of chocolate owners who are trying to keep their high-priced goods out of the way of Mr. Wonka and his new ambition.

The young chocolatier decides to befriend a young black girl named Noodle — yes, you also read that right — and the duo works together in order to sell Wonka’s chocolate in the city undetected.It’s all musicals and hijinks until we get to the introduction of the Oompa Loompas, which I’m pretty sure you guys are all excited for; really, really excited.

I’m probably making this film sound worse than it actually is, but there’s one perfect word to describe this film: soulless. A film that clearly plays off the nostalgia of the original movie, but has none of the charm that actually made the original movie work. Every ounce of this film feels like the brainchild of a soulless executive who somehow thinks that this will be the perfect Wonka film for modern audiences.

Wonka feels less like a major motion picture and feels more like a content movie for a streaming service such as HBO Max — largely uninspiring on all fronts. As a musical and fails to capture that old style of Hollywood that audiences are used to, and none of the music leaves a lasting punch either despite the effort.

Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) introduces himself to the world in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures
Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) introduces himself to the world in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

While trying to recreate the sarcastic, yet playful nature of the first film, the acting isn’t authentic enough to make audiences believe that they’re watching the same story, or at least a story in the same universe.The biggest knock on this film was that while it certainly has a lot of creative ideas that they want to put together, they don’t exactly have a creative vision to make it work.

For a run time of almost two hours, this film certainly wears out its welcome rather quick. In a lot of ways, Wonka feels more like a Paddington movie than an actual Wonka film.

Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) is first introduced to an Oompa Loompa (Hugh Grant) in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures
Willy Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) is first introduced to an Oompa Loompa (Hugh Grant) in Wonka (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

While it’s not fair to say that everyone’s going to hate this movie, this is the perfect example of a film that’s going to be split right down the middle. A film that isn’t good enough to be liked but not bad enough to be hated is a film that lacks empathy with the audience, which is the worst sin any film could be.

If you’re not sentimental with the Wonka franchise, it’s hard to see there being anything for you here. The songs aren’t that memorable, the tone is far too dull, and, for a fantasy film, its imagination never gets off the ground.

Wonka Score = 3/10

NEXT: ‘Dream Scenario’ Review – A24 Continues To Sniff Its Own Farts In Latest Nicolas Cage Flick

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