Wonka Blu-ray Review: A Sweet Audiovisual Treat with Heart

When I first heard this film was Willy Wonka’s origin story with Timothée Chalamet playing the titular role, I admit I had little interest. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite films especially because of the brilliant performance by Gene Wilder. I skipped the Tim Burton version for this reason. However, once I learned that director Paul King, writer/director of the Paddington films, co-wrote the screenplay along with Simon Farnaby, co-writer of Paddington 2, I was sold. What is extremely impressive is that this is the first time that the Dahl family gave permission for an original story outside of the books. It speaks to the trust they placed in this creative team. Wonka is as delightful as King’s previous films while creating an immersive and imaginative world which perfectly provides a foundation for this icon character.

Buy Wonka Blu-ray

Wonka (Chalamet) spent many years at sea, saving money to fulfill his dreams of being the world’s greatest chocolate-maker. After arriving in Europe with grandiose plans to open his own chocolate shop at the Galéries Gourmet, he experiences a series of mishaps that causes him to lose all his money. This results in him boarding with Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Coleman) and her henchman, Bleacher (Tom Davis). Even though he is warned by Noodle (Calah Lane), a young girl residing there, about the fine print, Wonka signs a contract which results in him ending up a prisoner at their laundromat where he connects with other captives, played by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Rich Fulcher, Natasha Rothwell, and Rakhee Thakrar. The wash house gang ends up teaming together to help Wonka fulfill his dream in hopes of finding their escape too. This proves more challenging than expected due to the three current chocolate makers who want to keep their hold on the town with the aid of the corrupt chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key). They also must deal with an Oompa-Loompa (Hugh Grant) seeking retribution from Wonka for a past wrong.

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The colors come through in strong hues, from the rich browns of the generic European city to the candy colors that pop off screen as Wonka and his confections grow in popularity. Blacks are dark, but when Wonka and Noodle dance across rooftops with balloons, the night sky looks light. Fine texture details can be seen in the sets and costumes, bringing an authenticity to the world.

The Dolby Atmos audio defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Dialogue is clear throughout. Composer Joby Talbot’s score and Neil Hannon’s songs fill the surrounds, as do sound effects some of which pan across channels to immerse the viewer within the soundscape.

The special features included are all extremely worth watching as they enhance the grandeur of the film. After watching each one, I wanted to immediately re-watch it in order to fully appreciate all of the incredible efforts that went into making it. The attention to detail is mind-blowing, and I didn’t notice this during my first viewing.

  • “Unwrapping Wonka: Paul King’s Vision” is a behind the scenes look at his overall vision for the film.
  • “The Whimsical Music of Wonka” highlights the efforts of composer Joby Talbot and songwriter Neil Hannon.
  • “Welcome to Wonka Land” focuses on production designer Nathan Crowley and the tremendous efforts that went into building the impressive sets.
  • “Hats off to Wonka” features costume designer Lindy Hemming and her inspirations behind each character’s amazing costumes.
  • “Wonka’s Chocolatier” provides an in-depth look at the creation of the special chocolates created by chocolatier Gabriella Cugno. The amount of work behind each one is extremely impressive.
  • “Musical Moments” provides direct access to each of the musical numbers in the film. All of the songs fit perfectly into the story. “Scrub Scrub” was my favorite musical number, and it is great to be able to jump right to it and watch it again and again.

While visually stunning with a lavish production, Wonka is at its core a heartfelt story about family and never losing hope when following one’s dreams. The entire cast is brilliant, and I was especially impressed by Chalamet. He was charming and elegant yet down to earth. I was concerned about his singing abilities, but he really pulled it off. One of the best quotes of the film that has stayed with me is “The Greedy Beat the Needy”. These days it feels that this couldn’t be truer; nonetheless, this sweet film provides hope that things can be different if we all work together.

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Lorna Miller

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