Wonka has arrived in UK cinemas, and whilst the concept of a prequel to the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' might sound like a worthless idea on paper, director Paul King manages to imbue a genuine sense of joy to the affair.

In an era where big studio films need to be attached to some pre-existing IP in some way in order to get funded, this feels like the best sort of outcome that could have been hoped for going in.

King, with co-writer Simon Farnaby, has already enjoyed great critical acclaim with the Paddington films so perhaps it's not a surprise that it manages to turn out so well.

Much like with Barbie earlier this year, giving a big project to someone with an actual vision and an interesting story to tell can actually make these sorts of films rather fun, rather than the dirge most blockbuster efforts end up being nowadays.

Family-friendly adventure done right

Families who enjoyed the Paddington films will be right at home with Wonka, with its relative simplicity and sincerity helping its cause enormously.

It's a type of writing you don't really seem to find elsewhere, and it supports the film's thesis of inspiring creativity and sharing your success with your community.

The film's villains being representative of big business squashing any type of creativity to create a watered-down product is also as apparent as you get to making that come across.

As much as anything else you can see the film's $125 million budget on-screen, with visual effects utilised exceptionally well alongside numerous creative sets and costumes.

King's direction also incorporates the spaces to an accomplished degree, really selling the size of certain sets and making the musical numbers as grand as they should be.

Wonka draws great performances across the board

Timothée Chalamet plays our titular character, and trying to portray a younger version of the incomparable Gene Wilder might be considered an incredibly difficult task.

The 27-year-old is probably one of our last hopes of producing an actual movie star in this era of cinema and he certainly gives it his all.

His sense of earnestness and unrelenting energy makes him an engaging presence, and even if it perhaps veers into going slightly overboard in moments, overall he does remarkably well.

Chalamet is benefitted by an amazing supporting cast, with the likes of Olivia Colman, Tom Davis, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter and Keegan-Michael Key doing a lot with relatively little screen time.

Special mention must be made for relative newcomer Calah Lane playing the role of Noodle,

Her bond with Wonka makes up the emotional core of the film and leads to a beautiful moment towards the end which will possibly bring a tear to the eyes of many.

Paterson Joseph also puts in a brilliant turn as the snide and despicable Arthur Slugworth, acting as the main villain of the story, whilst Hugh Grant's small role as an Oompa-Loompa creates many humorous moments.

Musical numbers likely to delight

Wonka by and large is a musical, and thankfully the various singing numbers are staged with great confidence and are exceptionally catchy.

One number involving the 'Chocolate Cartel' members in Slugworth, Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Fickelgruber (Matthew Baynton) is particularly hilarious as they attempt to bribe the Cheif of Police to prevent Wonka from setting up his business.

Also for fans of the 1971 original, Hugh Grant gets to sing a version of the Oompa-Loompa song whilst of course 'Pure Imagination' gets a rendition from Chalamet towards the end.

Very few weaknesses

Whilst the film is pretty great there are a few things that could have maybe been slightly more fine-tuned in my mind.

Whilst there are enough funny moments here that land really well, some of the humour felt a little obvious and safe, provoking not much reaction from the rather full cinema I was in.

Also whilst the first two acts of this flow exceptionally well, it seems to stutter a little in the build-up to the final sequence, but this is a very minor complaint.

Overall, there is very little holding Wonka back, and it can offer a perfect family-friendly adventure to make a trip to the cinema worthwhile this Christmas.

Score: 7/10

Wonka is in UK cinemas right now