Based on the extraordinary, iconic character at the center of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, Wonka tells the wondrous story of how a young chocolate-maker, armed with nothing but a hatful of dreams, manages to change the world, one delectable bite at a time. 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory will forever hold a special place among my favorite childhood films. To me, it has an endearing charm and timeless appeal that can be shared from one generation to the next. I never tire of watching it.

However, I am not so certain that we needed an origin story for Willy Wonka, an established and beloved character whose imagination and flair for invention needs no introduction. Fortunately, Wonka’s heart is in the right place, giving us a sweet, minorly manipulative tale that strikes familiar chords while shedding a bit of light on the childhood events that helped shape Willy into the beloved magician, inventor, and chocolate-maker we know and love. The script plays slightly overlong but manages to keep things on track, adding a few original songs, supporting subplots, and a bit of melodrama/comedy that effectively convey the spirit of its subject.

Wonka was derived from 4.5K sources and finished on a 4K digital intermediate. This can be a visually dazzling film that benefits from the enhanced resolution, emboldened contrast, and wide color gamut. Minute details can be seen in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, enhancing depth/dimension. HDR effectively drives the story’s use of visual cues, resolving interstitial details that promote depth of field. Black and white levels strike good balance, resulting in images that have ample visual pop.

The Dolby Atmos is generally well-balanced, comprising a mix of atmospherics and occasional discrete effects. The music is subtly mixed over the platform, adding natural depth to its orchestrated elements without drawing attention away from what’s happening on screen. Clarity and dialogue reproduction are excellent. Dynamic range and bass response are appropriate, adding thematic emphasis and resonating punch when called upon to do so. This is a solid audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

Bonus features amount to five production featurettes, which offer insights from the filmmakers on adapting the book, costume design, the music score, and the various chocolates featured in the film. A Movies Anywhere digital code is included. Wonka isn’t a wholly gratifying film but has an endearing and familiar charm that is enhanced by its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray.

STUDIO: Warner, 2023
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with True-HD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 116 mins., PG
STARRING: Timotheé Chalamet, Calah Lane, Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton