Wonka - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Wonka


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Movie: :3stars:
4K Video: :5stars:
Video:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:




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Movie

They always say that lightning never strikes twice, and in the case of the world of Willy Wonka that seems to be the case. 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a film that took the world by storm, and became a near instant classic. Maybe it was made at the right time, with the right actors, and the right producers, but no matter what the magic that as sprinkled into the movie making WAS, it’s undeniable that lightning hasn’t struck twice for the universe. The film world has tried several times to reinvigorate the spark by remaking and sequelizing the film a couple of times over the years, but nothing has really resonated like the original 1971 film has. Johnny Depp’s attempt back in the early 2000s found a niche audience (although most fans never really liked it that much. Depp was playing Depp in a Tim Burton movie, that’s all we saw) and now the powers that be have tried to pre-qualize the Roald Dahl novel in hopes of gaining some of that magic. Unfortunately, it has fallen into the same lot that the Johnny Depp version suffered from in that it’s a decent movie, but spectacularly has failed to capture that “spark” that made the 1971 film so beloved.

Wonka dives right in, introducing us to Willy Wonka (Timothee Chalamet) right off the bat as he arrives in Europe with nothing but a handful of Sovereign’s in his pocket and a dream in his hat (yes, his hat, not his head). His mother died when he was very young, imbuing him with a desire to create chocolate as magical as she did, and he’s going to pit his skill against the very best in the land. Unfortunately the very best in the land happen to be the monopoly of Slugworth, Prodnose and Fickelgruber, the best chocolatiers in the land. Only thing is, the secret monopoly of chocolate makers have no desire to let a newbie come and steal their hard earned turf. Wonka is sent packing as quickly as he came, leaving the poor boy homeless and in dire straights.

Out of pure ignorance he gets involved in a shady pair of landlords in the form of Mrs. Scrubit (Olivia Colman, who will forever be Doris in Hot Fuzz to me) and Mr. Bleacher (Comedian Tom Davis). There unwittingly gets in debt to the two and is forced into indentured servitude in order to work off his 10,000 Sovereign debt to them. There he meets a young girl by the name of Noodle (Calah Lane) who helps him see that maybe he CAN become the most well known chocalatier in the world.

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Wonka is not half bad I must admit. Taken from the director of the incredibly successful Paddington film series, I was wondering if we were going to get a Tim Burton train wreck, or another Paddington, only to get something in between. I know I’m being sightly biased here, but Wonka can’t even come close to the amazing fun that was the 1971 film, and not even by a small margin. That being said, the film is entirely watchable, with a fun cast that has great chemistry (especially the villains) and some awesome side characters (Keegan Michael Key and Rowan Atkinson were both probably the best parts of the movie). Unfortunately the songs feel a bit worn thin, stealing a bit too much from the original film and not creating ENOUGH of their own.

Also, I struggled a bit connecting to the film itself. Timothee is engaging and fun, but he doesn’t really embody even what we would consider a young Willy Wonka. I know it’s bias, but Gene Wilder embodies Willy Wonka as much as Hugh Jackman does Wolverine, or Harrison Ford does Han Solo. And no matter how hard he tried I just couldn’t get past that. Also, the plot itself meandered and felt a bit too straight forward and tame for a Willy Wonka movie. I kept thinking that this would have fared better as a Paddington bear romp rather than a Willy Wonka movie. Still, it has enough fun, charm and high flying chocolate fun to at least be a decent movie that that is actually ENJOYABLE (Paul King has this way of charming audiences, even in his flops) for once.




Rating:

Rated PG for some violence, mild language and thematic elements.




4K Video: :5stars: Video:
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One thing that Warner most certainly did not skimp on is the video and audio encodes for the film. The flick is bright, colorful, and on 4K UHD is just dazzling to behold. This 100gb disc serves up a picture perfect encode that is literally as perfect as you can get in 2024. Fine details and textures are handled impeccably, and the CGI used throughout the film blends right in with the ornate Eastern European structures used as the backdrop. Colors are right and bright with deep saturation points, and primary colors are literally popping off the screen at every corner. Blacks are deep and inky and I never even NOTICED any obvious artifacting throughout the 2 hour run time. Simply put, this is modern day demo material that is sure to please even the most nit picky of viewers.








Audio: :4.5stars:
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Wonka’s Dolby Atmos track is almost as impressive as the video track, with an amazingly rich and robust track that fills the entire room with sonic delight. Vocals are crisp and cleanly located up front, and the musical score literally fills all channels with absolute ease. One thing that really stood out is simply how encompassing the mix was, with that sense of “sitting in the center of a sonic bubble” perfectly represented in the mixing. I was literally hearing tings, pings, and automobile screeches coming from every corner of the room, even corners that I didn’t have speakers in. My only “complaint” is that the bass (while rich) was not AS punchy as I would have expected. It felt very smooth and blended well with all the speakers, but there were several key scenes that really missed some of that ferocity that would have elevated the experience a bit.













Extras: :3stars:
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• Unwrapping Wonka: Paul King's Vision - Revered director Paul King takes you on a deep dive into his experience adapting the beloved story of Wonka
• The Whimsical Music of Wonka - Composer Joby Talbot and songwriter Neil Hannon take you into the studio to illuminate the craft behind the wondrous songs of the film
• Welcome to Wonka Land - Production designer Nathan Crowley and the rest of the "Wonka" crew discuss creating the magical sets that transport audiences to the worlds of the film
• Hats Off to Wonka - Costume designer Lindy Hemming breaks down the inspiration and intention behind each of the character's wonderful costumes
• Wonka's Chocolatier - Chocolatier Gabriella Cugno provides an in-depth look at the creatin of the beautiful chocolates seen in "Wonka."













Final Score: :3.5stars:


Honestly, Wonka is a pretty fun movie with a sweet story underneath. As I said above, I really felt this would have been better as a 3rd Paddington Bear movie rather than a Will Wonka flick, but at least it’s fun. The 4K UHD that Warner has crafted is filled with amazing visuals, a good audio track, and a fairly hefty set of extras as well. About the only thing to really complain about in terms of the package is the lack of a Blu-ray disc to make it a combo pack (*grumble whine, *1st world gripes). Worth a watch in my humble opinion.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Timothe Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Keegan-MIchael Key, Calah Lane, Tom Davis
Directed by: Paul King
Written by: Paul King, Simon Farnaby, Roald Dahl (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish DD 5.1
Sugtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 27th, 2024
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Recommendation: Decent Watch

 
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Mike Schramm

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Not a big fan of Willy Wonka in general (Wilder and Depp included), but the A/V presentation sounds like it’s enough for me to pick this up.
 
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