‘Wonka’ review: Timothée Chalamet-led origin story is only semi-sweet

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‘Wonka’ review: Timothée Chalamet-led origin story is only semi-sweet


Extra a product of sensible commerce than pure creativeness, “Wonka” seems to be a unusual, intermittently tasty confection, that includes Timothée Chalamet because the younger inventor/magician/chocolatier in a super-caloric origin story. The star offers it his all, together with loads of not-bad/not-great singing, in a movie that’s at its finest when leveraging the ample goodwill of the 1971 traditional.

Certainly, “Wonka” opens with quiet musical strains of “Pure Creativeness,” and people catchy tunes from the Gene Wilder model eclipse the not-very-memorable new songs composed by Neil Hannon, which are likely to depend on barely groan-inducing lyrics, like Wonka singing to a younger woman named Noodle (Calah Lane) that “some individuals don’t, and a few individuals doodle.”

Hewing towards Wilder (and correctly not Tim Burton’s darker 2005 take with Johnny Depp), Chalamet’s Willy Wonka steps off a ship from elements unknown with little greater than a tune in his coronary heart, near-mystical chocolate-making abilities and, as he sings, “a hatful of goals.”

Regardless of telephones and previous automobiles, the town the place he disembarks has a Dickensian really feel to it, together with a boarding home run by an completed grifter performed by Olivia Colman, one of many many members of English appearing royalty who pop in, together with Jim Carter (“Downton Abbey”), Rowan Atkinson and Sally Hawkins, very similar to the Harry Potter collection.

As for villains, they include a trio of businessmen who head the chocolate cartel and see the fresh-faced Wonka and his divine gravity-defying treats as a menace to their enterprise. The de facto chief is known as, appropriately, Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), and their corruption contains help from the native police chief (Keegan-Michael Key).

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‘Wonka’: Timothée Chalamet on what makes his chocolatier totally different

Director Paul King oversaw the “Paddington” motion pictures, which helps clarify the moderately impressed option to characteristic Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa, who holds a grudge in opposition to Wonka for an unintended slight. Whereas a lot has been fabricated from Grant’s casting, the now-diminutive character doesn’t arrive till midway by the film and “the little orange man,” as he’s described, offers the entire enterprise a giant shot of adrenalin each time he reveals up.

If Wilder’s Wonka was mischievously bizarre and a trifle mysterious, Chalamet’s take is extra relentlessly upbeat, even within the face of crushing adversity, at one level channeling Blanche DuBois by saying that he has “relied on the kindness of strangers.”

Nonetheless, “Wonka” solely sporadically conjures cinematic magic, and most of these moments owe an outsized debt to tying immediately into the sooner film based mostly on Roald Dahl’s story, versus carving its personal path for a brand new technology.

First with “Dune” and now this, Chalamet has actually change into a key participant in Warner Bros.’s efforts to breathe new life into venerable franchises, and this function arguably fits him higher than the previous.

Though largely acceptable for a youthful viewers, the irony is “Wonka” will in all probability play finest amongst those that really feel the strongest connections to a film that premiered greater than 50 years in the past. Chalk that as much as a film that delivers some playfully intelligent components however that, when it comes to standing by itself, by no means fully finds its candy spot.

“Wonka” premieres December 15 in US theaters and December 6 in a a number of worldwide territories. It’s being launched by Warner Bros., like CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery, and rated PG.

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