Wonka review: Timothée Chalamet delivers a world of pure imagination in sweet musical

Grab your golden ticket and head to cinemas on 8 December

Wonka (Warner Bros.)
Wonka (Warner Bros.)
  • 🎞️ When is Wonka out in cinemas: Friday, 8 December

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 5/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Timothée Chalamet, Calah Lane, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Paterson Joseph, Keegan Michael-Key, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton.

  • 👍 What we liked: Paul King has created a whimsical prequel that has a delightful story and soundtrack, and is as charming as Gene Wilder's original — if not more so.

  • 👎 What we didn't: Some of the visual effects aren't as polished in a few of the scenes.

  • 📖 What's it about? Before he had his fabled Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka began as a humble chocolatier hoping to fulfil a promise made to his late mother by delighting the world with his wild and wonderful creations.

On paper, Wonka shouldn't work. The whacky, reclusive chocolatier may be a larger than life figure in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but no one asked for a prequel about how he came to be the man we know and love — not until Paul King, that is.

Read more: Director Paul King says Hugh Grant's Oompa Loompa is 'gleefully naughty' in Wonka

The Paddington director has done the impossible, he has taken an idea that seemed no more than a way to cash in on nostalgia and delivered a delightful, captivating musical that is just as wonderful as Dahl's book and the 1971 Gene Wilder film it draws most inspiration from.

In Wonka, the sweet maker — charmingly played by Timothée Chalamet — is far from the brooding genius that Charlie Bucket meets, he's a young man with hopes of fulfilling his life-long dream of sharing his wild and wonderful creations with the world after promising his late mother that he would.

Timothee Chalamet in Wonka. (Warner Bros.)
Timothee Chalamet in Wonka. (Warner Bros.)

However, Willy faces challenges straight away when the Chocolate Triumvirate Arthur Slugworth (Paterson Joseph), Ficklegruber (Mathew Baynton) and Prodnose (Matt Lucas), do everything in their power to stop him from doing so, and he ends up in the clutches of the dastardly Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis).

The eccentric genius won't be held down though, and helping him give them the runaround is Noodle (Calah Lane) while he also has to contend with a mysterious orange man with green hair following his every move and stealing all his chocolate.

Like Tim Minchin's musical take on Matilda, Wonka is a welcome re-interpretation of Dahl's work that highlights the whimsical characters the author created whilst also bringing something new to the table.

Wonka (Warner Bros.)
Wonka (Warner Bros.)

Wonka features elaborate, expertly executed choreography over the course of the narrative that makes the film feel destined for the West End stage, while songs like A World of Your Own and Scrub Scrub are undeniable earworms.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Wonka

Chalamet's fans will be delighted to know the actor can carry a tune very well, and he can dance too. He leads the cast well, and his version of the character is as wondrous as Wilder's beloved take.

Joseph, Baynton and Lucas make for humorous villains, particularly Joseph who delivers some of the film's best jokes with a roguish charm that doesn't diminish the triumvirate's sinister machinations, while Colman and Davis are also wonderfully comic adversaries to Willy and co.

Timothee Chalamet and Hugh Grant in Wonka. (Warner Bros.)
Timothee Chalamet and Hugh Grant in Wonka. (Warner Bros.)

We would be remiss not to mention Hugh Grant's appearance as Lofty, the Oompa-Loompa on Wonka's heels, the actor once again delivers a cutting and amusing performance as the character, making his short time on-screen incredibly memorable.

There is little not to love about Wonka, it is full of charm and humour and it welcomes viewers into a world of pure imagination.

Wonka is released in cinemas on Friday, 8 December.

Watch the trailer for Wonka: