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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: February 27th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2023

Wonka - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: M. Enois Duarte
Starring Timothée Chalamet as the titular confectioner, Paul King's Wonka is a visually beautiful and dazzling spectacle, but the production sadly never really achieves the memorable heights it aspires to be, lacking the darker undertones and cynical sense of humor masked beneath an air of affability we'd expect for the character. The musical fantasy peddles its chocolate wares on the streets of Ultra HD with a gorgeous 4K HDR video and a top-notch Dolby Atmos track. With a decently good collection of bonus material, the UHD edition is Recommended.

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Single-Disc UHD Pack, UHD-100 Triple-Layer Disc, Region Free
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
116
Aspect Ratio(s):
2.39:1
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Special Features:
Featurettes, Digital Copy
Release Date:
February 27th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

In the opening moments of Wonka, an origin story of the Roald Dahl character made iconic by the legendary Gene Wilder, director Paul King makes clear his aspirations and expectations for this musical fantasy prequel. As Timothée Chalamet cheerfully frolics his way off a boat and into the town where he plans to make his riches as a chocolatier, the movie opens in full force with a spectacular production design and bold sweeping camera movements. It's the sort that should immediately lure viewers into this whimsical world full of what promises to be memorable music, dazzling choreography and a fanciful fable about greedy misbehavior and gluttonous over-indulgence. But while the visuals admittedly generate an air of grand pageantry about to be on display, the story never really achieves those heights with the only notable portion of that initial song being Chalamet's young Wonka bemoaning his dwindling funds on his first day.

To be sure, the visuals and some of the choreography can be striking and even mesmerizing at times, which is thanks, in large part, to the stunning cinematography of Chung Chung-hoon (Oldboy, Stoker, Last Night in Soho). However, dazzling as it all is to behold on screen, the music and dance numbers generally lack the same level of enthusiastic energy on display, and it's oddly difficult to place a finger on precisely where it goes wrong. It could be the collaboration of Joby Talbot and Neil Hannon producing some rather flavorless, pedestrian and sadly unmemorable songs and scores, feeling more like a humdrum imitation of better musicals. It could also be the directing talents of King, better known for his far more satisfying and enjoyable Paddington and Paddington 2, not exactly being the best fit for this particular production. Whatever the case may be, much of the film is not the imaginative spectacle it sets itself out to be nor is it what we would expect for a beloved and eccentric character such as Wonka.

Thankfully, to King's credit, every time characters break out into a song and dance number, it is all in service to the plot, moving the story along to a well-deserved climactic finish with Chalamet's Wonka confronting the three members of the Chocolate Cartel (Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas and Mathew Baynton). Wonka's aforementioned financial woes on his first day lead him to even worse problems at the hands of Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis), which actually turns into a fortunate alliance with bookworm orphan Noodle (Calah Lane). Selling his chocolates in the town streets, prompting the public's love for his eclectic brand, draws the ire of the corrupt chocolate-addicted Chief-of-Police (Keegan-Michael Key), who is under the payroll of the Cartel. The movie moves along at a nice, brisk pace, populated with various quirky characters who make for an amusing watch but deserve far better than this result.

Speaking of the quirky characters populating Wonka, the most important one of them all doesn't quite fit in this fantasy tale about an oddly idiosyncratic chocolatier. Don't get me wrong, Chalamet is a tremendously talented actor and is usually a delight to watch, but here, he feels out of place. While his performance is fine, the young actor has an appealing force of personality that doesn't really suit the titular character, who is supposed to be offbeat with an oddly charming creepiness. Missing is the darker undertones and cynical sense of humor masked beneath an air of affability that Wilder did so well in the 1971 classic and that Johnny Depp made more palpable in Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation. When it's all said and done, the musical fantasy comes with the visual pomp and splendor that fans would expect but none of the enchantment to make the production memorable or to suggest that the movie could ever become a classic in its own right. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Warner Home Video brings Wonka to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a single-disc package with a flyer for a Digital Copy, granting owners access to the 4K UHD version with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio. The triple-layered UHD100 disc is housed inside a black, eco-elite case with a glossy, lightly-embossed slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a static screen with usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.

Video Review

Ranking:

The prequel peddles its chocolates on the streets of Ultra HD with plenty of swagger and panache, sporting a spot-on contrast and brightness balance. 

Coming from a freshly-minted digital intermediate, the native 4K transfer boasts crisp, brilliant whites that really pop in daylight exteriors and inky-rich blacks that penetrate deep into the screen, providing the 2.39:1 image with appreciable dimensionality. On the whole, shadow delineation is above average although some of the darkest corners, especially in a few of the darker scenes and many of the low-lit interiors, tend to engulf the finer details. The HEVC H.265 encode arrives with excellent specular highlights, supplying the video with a tight, radiant glow around the hottest spots, which are most appreciable in the aforementioned daylight exteriors. Fine objects and lines are razor sharp and distinct overall with exceptional clarity and visibility of the various items decorating the background or the lettering on books, signs and candy wrappers. The flamboyantly colorful cinematography of Chung Chung-hoon really benefits from this Dolby Vision HDR presentation, furnishing the visuals with richly saturated primaries and an energetic array of secondary hues, especially the warm amber-yellow shades bathing every indoor scene. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 88/100)

Audio Review

Ranking:

The origin story sings and dances to home theaters with a top-notch Dolby Atmos soundtrack, belting out a few showstoppers that make the best use of the entire system. Granted, a majority of the design is a front-heavy presentation with clean, superb intonation in the vocals, but several of the musical numbers come with various ambient effects that effortlessly spread across the surrounds and heights to nicely envelop the listener. It's not always consistent, but those few times are greatly appreciated. With an extensive and well-defined mid-range throughout, imaging continuously feels broad and expansive, as much of the background activity and the score bleeds into the front top heights and smoothly moves between the three front channels. Although nothing particularly commanding or noteworthy, the low-end is quite robust and hearty, providing the music and action with a weighty presence. Overall, the object-based mix makes for a satisfying listen that perfectly complements the visuals. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 90/100)

Special Features

Ranking:

The UHD edition comes with decently good collection of bonus material that more or less covers the basics. Not a lot of depth to the extras, but there's enough here to glean some insight into the production. 

  • Unwrapping Paul King's Vision (HD, 12 min)
  • Welcome to Wonka Land (HD, 11 min)
  • Wonka's Chocolatier (HD, 9 min)
  • Hats Off to Wonka (HD, 7 min)
  • The Whimsical Music of Wonka (HD, 6 min)
  • Musical Moments (HD)

Although visually beautiful and dazzling to watch, Paul King's Wonka sadly never really achieves the memorable heights it aspires to be. In any other movie, Timothée Chalamet's performance would be a delight and noteworthy, but here, his otherwise charming personality lacks the darker undertones and cynical sense of humor masked beneath an air of affability expected of the character. The musical fantasy peddles its chocolate wares on the streets of 4K Ultra HD with a gorgeous Dolby Vision HDR presentation and a top-notch Dolby Atmos soundtrack. With a decently good collection of bonus material, the UHD edition is Recommended.

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review

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