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Movie Review: ‘Wonka’


“I’ve poured everything I’ve got into my chocolate. Now, it’s time to show the world my recipes. I’ve got twelve silver sovereigns in my pocket. And a hatful of dreams” – Willy Wonka

After its latest movie adaptation in 2005, the iconic Willy Wonka of our childhood returned with a hatful of dreams. Following its first release in the United Kingdom on Dec. 8, 2023, “Wonka” was released in South Korea on Jan. 24, attracting more than one million views in the first nine days. 

“Wonka” is a musical fantasy film directed by Paul King and a prequel to the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl. The movie, featuring the Hollywood actor Timothée Chalamet, garnered the attention of international fans from the beginning of its release, with $587 million box office. The film unfolds the early days of the fictional character, the famous chocolate maker Willy Wonka.  

The plot of the movie follows Willy Wonka, a magician, inventor, and chocolate maker, who after seven years of traveling around the world, arrives at a city renowned for its chocolate. Although he has been dreaming of becoming the world’s best chocolate maker, he is obstructed by a problem on the first day when he is tricked into signing an unconscionable contract.

In order to pay off his debt he got from the contract, Willy Wonka goes to the the Galéries Gourmet to sell “hoverchocs,” making anyone who tastes it fly in the air. However, he eventually faces opposition from the three villains who hold the monopoly in the chocolate industry in the city. Just when he was about to give up, he meets noodle, an orphan captive in the boarding house. Fortunately, Noodle helps him breakout of the house by raising funds and selling chocolate, allowing Wonka to continue pursuing his dreams. 

“What I loved about the movie was the gorgeous colors and its overall Roald Dahl absurdity,” Haven Cha (10), “Wonka” movie fan, said. “I think my favorite scene was when Wonka sells chocolate to the townspeople hiding underneath the sewers, singing the song ‘You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This.’ I like how beautiful the chocolate was, especially the one Wonka gave to Noodle.” 

The prequel sheds light on Willy Wonka’s mysterious backstory and answers questions that have never before been answered in the original book: What inspired Wonka to decide to become a chocolatier? One of the scenes reveal this mystery. When Willy Wonka was young, he grew up on a boat with his mother who occasionally made chocolate for young Willy Wonka. The chocolate and encouraging word from his mother to hold on to his dream inspires him to share his chocolate with the world. When his mother died, Wonka began to travel to exotic places and experiment with different ingredients to create the best chocolate for the business he wants to start in the city. 

The movie explores the themes of embracing challenges with hope and passion, potential of creativity, and, mainly, importance of relationships with family and friends. In contrast to the darker themes of injustice, greed, rewarding virtuous children, and prejudice, the movie focused on the pursuing one’s aspirations and dreams with support from the loved ones, conveying a distinct message from that of the book. 

Another major departure of the original work is a change in Willy Wonka’s character. Originally in the book, Willy Wonka is portrayed as a self-centered cynical character and disliking children. However, he carries both vice and virtue in his character. He was often depicted by Charlie as being a hero who is kind and generous. In the end of the book, Willy Wonka finally learns what it is like to be loved and overcomes the cynicism through Charlie and his family. “Wonka,” on the other hand, offers a fresh perspective on the character, depicting Willy Wonka as a humble and modest character from the beginning whose journey is enriched by the connections he establishes. Through this shift in character, we are able to interpret the personal impact of expanding the big factory had on him. Interestingly, however, the movie does not foreshadow how cynical Willy Wonka would become at any point.  

Overall, “Wonka” is a time travel back to childhood for many, as it successfully replicates the amusing and wondrous characteristics while taking fresh approaches. Through the changes in themes, characters, and settings, the film offers a marvelous cinematic experience. 


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About the Contributor
Taerin Kim
Taerin Kim, Reporter
Taerin Kim is a sophomore reporter of Tiger Times Online. In her free time, she likes to play guitar and watch TV shows, especially in the genre of comedy. If you have any TV show recommendations, please don’t hesitate to approach her! 

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