The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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“Wonka” offers an entertaining take on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Featuring Timothee Chalamet, viewers learn about Willy Wonka’s claim to fame in latest movie “Wonka”.

The latest installment of the Willy Wonka franchise, “Wonka,” starring Timothee Chalamet, marks the beginning of Willy Wonka’s chocolate career. Willy Wonka tries to put his name out in the chocolate world by opening a store and selling his chocolates. While this portrayal is sweet, it falls slightly short when compared to other memorable renditions. But it is definitely a film worth watching.  

“Wonka” was released on Dec. 15, 2023, and serves as a prequel to “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” released in 1971. Directed by Paul King, who also directed the famous revivals “Paddington” and “Paddington 2”. 

In “Wonka ” viewers witness a young Willy Wonka embarking on his dream of becoming a famous chocolatier. The movie opens with the song “A Hatful of Dreams” introducing us to the English town of Lyme Regis, known for having the best chocolate in the world. Willy’s mom died when he was a child, and he spent the rest of his childhood attempting to create the best chocolate in the world. 

During his journey of opening a chocolate store, Willy encounters many challenges, including being locked up in the basement of a hotel until he pays off his dues, to facing the deceitful tactics of the three most celebrated chocolatiers in the world. He forms an unlikely friendship with a young girl named Noodle, played by Calah Lane, and together they help Willy achieve his dream.

One of the film’s highlights is the interesting and generally well-written new plot. “Wonka” has an original plot, with new characters and unexpected twists and turns. While other adaptations of the story focus on a competition within Willy’s factory, “Wonka” adds a new perspective to the iconic character. 

However, some of Wonka’s classic oddities feel forced by Chalamet, lacking the originality of Gene Wilder’s 1971 performance. Several of the jokes in “Wonka” are ill-written as if artificial intelligence was told to write a line that Wilder Wonka would say. 

 The soundtrack features classics like “Pure Imagination” and “Oompa Loompa” alongside many new songs. These songs feel abrupt as they come in randomly throughout the plot and disrupt the dialogue. However, the well-executed choreography makes up for the unfitting songs. 

Despite its shortcomings, “Wonka” brings joy through its grand sets, accompanied by costumes that match the classic Willy Wonka aesthetic. “Wonka” was filmed all around England, including London, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Lyme Regis. Well-filmed scenes, coupled with occasional bursts of animation, contribute to the film’s classic yet modern feel. 

Willy’s delectable and beautifully crafted chocolates are a feast for the eyes, making the viewer’s mouth water at the sight of them. The chocolate-making process gives the viewer a glimpse into the creative, but crazy mind of Willy. His store is jaw-dropping and looks straight from the original Willy Wonka factory with some new designs. 

The casting of “Wonka” was fitting, with each actor correctly representing their character. As the police chief, Keegan Micheal Key, best known for “Key and Peele” brings comedy to the movie with well-delivered lines. Before release, rumors spiraled that Tom Holland would be playing Wonka, but ultimately Chalamet performed well as Wonka despite some badly delivered lines.

The prequel contributed to the viewer’s understanding of Willy as a character. It provided a nuanced look into his personality and turned him to the protagonist of the story instead of a side character. In “Wonka” Willy becomes a relatable character that faces human problems and is a good person.

At two hours in length, the movie overstayed its welcome with extraneous scenes and music. But there were some subplots that did add to the overall plot of the movie and were welcomed. The Oompa Loompa backstory, featuring Hugh Grant, provides a friendly background to the otherwise dark and mysterious tale of these characters.

While “Wonka” doesn’t quite reach the heights of Wilder’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” it holds a comparable rank to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Johnny Depp, offering a more entertaining take on the character of Wonka. Overall, the movie is worth a watch if you’re looking for a mouthwatering adventure tale.

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