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Wonka (2023)
Every good thing in this world started with a dream.
Filmmaker(s): Paul King

Willy Wonka – chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world one delectable bite at a time – is proof that the best things in life begin with a dream, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible.

Wonka (2023)

Paddington’s Twist

I never was a particular fan of Dahl’s, but I do have to admire the coherence he brought to his projects. There were bad guys and good guys, children and mothers, yearning and magic. But these all occurred in a world that worked together. He was a world-builder and as the story unfolded, the forces that drove the events and characters were all of the same.

So the journey was not so much a matter of stark justice, rather something more Shakespearean where the world simply unfolded. His special gift within this more ordinary one was walking us through it with a child’s eye.

None of that here. We do have a Willy, and an Oompa, and there is chocolate. But this is not a flow through to a world. It is instead a hodgepodge of world bits smashed together with a similar colour scheme. And those bits are crudely drawn.

The bad capitalist is simply bad, not bad because of the world. The bad cop and priest are differently bad, but not from any related intent. The chocolate from the bad guys is so amazing, it captures them, but elsewhere we are told that they water it down and save the extra underground — for no apparent reason other than setting what was clearly though as a climax: rescue from drowning in chocolate by an Oompa.

Yet this watered down chocolate with no extra flavours has its own magic — and the colourful magic from our candy Messiah is not enough by itself.

I’ll give you an example where this worked, where the forces of business and the ordinary world were woven into the world of Dahl-like magic. ‘Mary Poppins’. The two worlds entangled each other, with one influencing the other.

Wonka’s magic seems encapsulated in an inner world where you have to walk through a door to enter it.

This is not Dahl. This is not even Paddington.

The one thing I liked was the synesthesiac cinematic convention for taste. We can’t taste in movies, and this is essentially a romance about taste. So they gave us colour.

And it has a dynamic beginning.

But those two things can’t save it for me.

Posted in 2024

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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