Wonka is set up as a prequel to the 1970s film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and so has a broadly similar visual style. It’s not related to the 2005 adaptation with Johnny Depp, presumably because Depp isn’t much in favour nowadays.
As Roald Dahl passed away in 1990, the film has been made with the involvement of his estate, but was written by Simon Farnaby and Paul King. Farnaby has written for and starred in Horrible Histories, Yonderland and Ghosts, and King directed both of the recent critically acclaimed Paddington films. Their talent shows through, as does their respect for Dahl’s work; I imagine if Dahl himself had been involved in writing the screenplay for Wonka, it would be similar to this.
So it’s a good film. My only major criticism would be that it’s a bit twee in places. There’s also been some controversy over the casting of Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa, rather than someone like Peter Drinklage who would probably also do well in the role. However, I think Grant is excellent, and like with his role in the recent Dungeons and Dragons film, it’s good to see him playing roles that aren’t variations of a confused English gentlemen.
Wish is the latest animated Disney film, and the one that marks Disney’s 100th anniversary (which is why their first short film, Steamboat Willie, is now in the public domain). I’d like to say it’s as good as recent Disney animated films like Encanto and Frozen… but it isn’t.
It’s not bad, but we’ve seen better from Disney. To sum it up, it’s as if an AI was asked to generate a Disney film in a certain style. All the ingredients that would make a good film are there, but they just don’t seem to work together. As someone who generates AI artwork for my blog posts, I’m aware of their limitations and their tendency to not understand how things fit together. I’m not saying Disney used an AI here, but it feels like they’re trying too hard to imitate something without understanding what makes them great.
The soundtrack, for example, seems to be trying too hard to imitate films like The Greatest Showman. A case in point is the song “This Is the Thanks I Get?!”, sung by Chris Pine’s character. It’s supposed to be an angry song, but comes across as rather upbeat.
Wish came out in the UK in November so probably won’t be in cinemas much longer. However, given the choice, I would recommend Wonka over Wish.