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Wonka reviews: Timothée Chalamet-led prequel receives rave first reactions

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The much-anticipated prequel to the beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka, held its world premiere in London on Tuesday (28 November), leaving audiences in awe of its whimsical charm and outstanding performances. Directed by Paul King, the creative mind behind the beloved Paddington films, Wonka stars Timothée Chalamet as the younger version of the iconic chocolatier.

Early social media reactions from the premiere have been overwhelmingly positive, with particular acclaim for Chalamet’s lead performance. Audiences and critics alike took to X/Twitter to express their delight, with RogertEbert.com Associate Editor Robert Daniels praising Chalamet as a “really gifted comedic actor” who cleverly leverages his star persona for laughs. The film’s staging received compliments, and Daniels noted the presence of “lots of heart and whimsy.”

Despite the overall positive reception, Daniels did raise a concern about the film, expressing disapproval of what he described as a “barrage of fat jokes,” deeming it “poor form in a delightful film.” 

Kaitlyn Booth, Editor-in-Chief of BleedingCool.com, drew parallels between Chalamet’s performance and that of Gene Wilder, the original Wonka from the 1971 film adaptation. Booth found Wonka to be a delightful surprise, describing it as whimsical and tapping into the same sense of wonder as the original while carving out its own unique identity. She commended Chalamet for channeling Wilder’s energy without resorting to mere imitation, making it a great family film for the holidays.

Freelance film critic Zoë Rose Bryant declared Wonka an “instant holiday classic” and a “truly magical time at the movies.” She highlighted Paul King’s whimsical directorial style, noting that it worked just as effectively in Wonka as it did in the Paddington films. Bryant praised every musical number for its enchanting quality, with the ensemble cast taking turns stealing the show, led by the endlessly charming Timothée Chalamet.

Grace Randolph, host of Beyond The Trailer, went a step further, calling Wonka “SHOCKINGLY good.” She drew a parallel between King’s approach to the film and the beloved Paddington, describing Wonka as a movie for adults that transforms the Wonka narrative into a male Mary Poppins.

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