Wonka at Cineworld 4DX review: Hold tight as Hugh Grant steals the show with his grumpy Oompa-Loompa
Is it possible or even sensible to take on the mantle of a literary legend and create a world beyond that incredible place which we all know and love from our own childhoods? I had my misgivings about Wonka but the run up to Christmas is a special time to do things as a family so off we went to Cineworld.
There aren't too many films which truly keep all generations happy for two hours but we all adore the original books so it was worth a go. Not sure if it would keep the teenagers as entertained as our youngest son, we opted for the 4D screening.
It was my first visit to "extreme sensory cinema". 4DX is billed as a Cineworld exclusive in the UK and Ireland "with stimulating effects like water, wind, scent and strobe lighting, that thrill you in your moving seat".
Overhyped? Not one bit.
What a fantastic, thrilling, funny experience. The screams as things shot out of the chairs at us and the white-knuckle feel as the seats flipped up back and forth made everyone cackle, regardless of age.
This is not about relaxing into a comfy seat and enjoying chill-out time as you tuck into your treats. In fact, those that had full boxes of popcorn quickly realised that it wasn't possible to keep hold of it without large amounts jumping up and onto the floor.
The chair shakes aren't minor and they often come when you least expect it. A story about a boy who dreams of opening his own chocolate shop didn't appear to me to lend itself to extreme movement. Oh, how wrong I was as we were danced along to every tune, thrown down a rubbish chute and bumped at every turn. Water and smoke shoot out of the most unexpected places to great hilarity.
My favourite bit of Wonka? Well, I've never been a Hugh Grant fan but he has finally found his calling as the grumpiest Oompa-Loompa of all. He was perfect for the role. He at least deserves his own spin-off movie, if not a whole series.
The story feels right, as true to Dahl as you can get without him being here to offer his own view. Timothée Chalamet can easily get away with being a young Gene Wilder and the cast of British screenstars is enough to dazzle including Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman and Matt Lucas.
The only bit missing? There were plenty of 'sweet' whiffs injected into the cinema but we were disappointed that it didn't smell like chocolate. And we really, really, really did wish that it would start raining real chocolates on us but that might be beyond even Cineworld's magical powers.
'Are there no new stories or imagination out there,' my eldest son asked as the end credits started to roll. I'd have agreed at the start but felt he was being far too harsh by the finish. With a foundation as solid and still as wonderfully entertaining as Charlie and the Chocolate factory, why wouldn't there still be generations of writers and actors wanting to get a slice of the Dahl pie? Wonka works perfectly in 2023 and the hilarious 4DX option is the ideal way to roll into Christmas together.
If this is how extreme 4DX gets with a children's classic, I'm wondering what on earth they will cook up for the next Fast And Furious. I may not be brave enough to find out.