We mentioned last week that the early word on Wonka was really good (check here if you don't believe us). Now the official reviews embargo has broken, critics are free to sing the movie's praises in even more depth with plaudits going towards Timothée Chalamet's portrayal of the titular Willy Wonka.
The movie currently holds a strong 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has also been praised for Paul King's direction, its vibrant design and its central messaging, which is said to be sweeter than an everlasting gobstopper. Here are some highlights of the critical responses.
"The most fun you'll have in a cinema all year" – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
"Director Paul King and his co-writer Simon Farnaby have concocted a wholly self-contained caper about a plucky young chocolatier taking on a cartel of older, meaner rivals – then dusted it with enough details drawn from both Dahl’s novel and the 1971 film to make the branding add up.
"Like any good chocolatier, [Paul King] has obsessively focused on texture and flavour. And it’s those qualities – tuned to mass-market tastes, yet held in connoisseurish balance – that give his film its irresistible velvety sweetness."
"Breezes by on a waft of ingenuity, charm and warmth" – Ian Freer, Empire
As with Paddington 2, [Paul King] and co-screenwriter Simon Farnaby’s writing is at its best concocting crazy schemes involving the unlikeliest elements (one involves a faux Bavarian aristocrat; another involves milking a giraffe). Similarly, the script is studded with delicious details, be it visual conceits (Wonka lighting a candle by blowing on it) or off-the-wall ideas (the cartel’s incriminating ledger is guarded by Rowan Atkinson’s corrupt cleric and 500 chocoholic monks). It’s a delightful, daffy world, and a pleasure to spend time in.
"Timothée Chalamet] keeps you invested, treading a nifty line between eccentricity and sincerity, embracing the twinkle of Wilder while avoiding the creepiness of Depp. The most kind-hearted on-screen hero in years, Wonka embodies Wonka’s strongest (purple) suit: a huge generosity of spirit."
"A fun-filled festive treat" – Nick Levine, NME
"[Timothée Chalamet] proves himself a very decent song and dance man. He has a clear, unobtrusive vocal style and never goes in for Broadway-style showboating, which bodes well for his performance in an upcoming Bob Dylan biopic.
"His Willy Wonka - bold, big-hearted and sometimes a bit befuddled - is fun to spend time with, which helps to smooth over the odd bump in the narrative."
"A whole lot of sugar and whimsy" – Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly
"Wonka as a whole has the touch of the British music hall about it in its narrative rhythms and tinkling musical numbers. The best part of that tradition it borrows, however, is the ways in which it revels in its own ridiculousness (nothing in a movie this year is more inventive or dryly hilarious than the notion of a Chocolate Cartel and their devilish deal with a chocolate-obsessed cleric and chocoholic monks, who, yes, do perform Gregorian chants about sweets).
"In addition to committing to its sense of fun, Wonka reminds us that life is made sweetest by the people we share it with. If that’s not particularly novel, it’s still as comforting and scrumptious a notion as a chocolate bar."
"A sweet treat" – Esther Zuckerman, Vox
"Like Paddington, Wonka defies expectations. The movie... is absolutely charming and, dare I say, extremely Paddington-core. King has infused that same sort of warm, intelligent energy into his tale of an ambitious, kooky sweets purveyor who arrives in a vaguely European town with the hope of opening up a shop, only to have his dreams stifled by a pair of scheming launderers and an evil chocolate cartel.
"Timothée Chalamet may not be a furry little bear, but his Wonka is akin to Paddington. He’s an oddball optimist who inspires those around him — all except for the naysayers who see his good mood as an imposition. It’s a worthy bit of holiday entertainment, the kind of movie that hits just right in these winter months. It’s sweet but not too treacly, not quite as perfect as Paddington 2 (what is?) but it does the trick."
Have those reviews convinced you to see Wonka on opening night at Cineworld? Then click the link below to book your tickets and we'll see you front row on December 8th.