‘Willow’ Review: Warwick Davis Returns in Lucasfilm’s Series Sequel for Disney+


Disney’s press materials refer to the original 1988 film “Willow” as “the darling,” which despite its fans feeling like a nostalgic inflation of a pretty generic George Lucas-plotted fantasy that made Ron Howard an early Directing showcase provided. Setting that aside, a Disney+ revival series is not without its charms, in a more contemporary narrative that brings back Warwick Davis while focusing on the next generation.

The series begins by recounting the events of the film, in which Davies’ simple farmer Willow becomes a magician and becomes embroiled in a fierce battle to protect a child who carried the kingdom’s destiny on his tiny shoulders, the swordsman Madmartigan. Overcame the ancient evil with the help of. and (eventually) Princess Sorsha. The latter were played by Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, respectively, who married after the film as an off-screen bonus.

Kilmer, in the midst of her struggle with cancer, remains out of the picture, but Whale returns as the now-queen and mother of two headstrong children, who take part in a mythical quest for which to thwart the evil Krone. Travel across treacherous lands is required.

As the aforementioned child, Elora Danan, she grows up in obscurity, much like “Sleeping Beauty”, to protect her, though her identity (an unseen spoiler) soon becomes known. The quest involves a colorful band of young people with plenty of relationship issues, including Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz), who is secretly in love with the knight in charge of training her (Erin Kellyman, whose credits include Lucasfilm’s “Solo : A Star Wars Story”). , and Burman (Amar Chadha-Patel), an irreverent brawler in madmartigan mode.

Jonathan Kasdan (who also helmed “Solo”) serves as showrunner, collaborating with the four directors, who each oversee back-to-back episodes. As constructed, ‘Willow’ draws on the original while weaving in flourishes that recall the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films, with lots of lush countryside and abundant, sometimes considerable Violent action is involved.

As is often the case with growing subgenres of expanded-to-series sequels, this “Willow” at times feels as though it’s spinning its wheels, stretching Willow long enough for now-older Elora. In order to master her powers, which he presents as the only hope of saving the kingdom. And while Kilmer’s absence leaves a sizable hole, Kasdan and company do a fine job of filling it, including the late arrival of another knight (Christian Slater) with whom Madmartigan shared some history.

Beyond the modern sounding dialogues and situations, the story showcases plenty of playfulness and humour, mixed between action sequences and fantasy production design. The latter specifically suggest that this revival was no small undertaking, and to its credit, it looks like the money ended up on screen.

While that combination doesn’t add up to significantly deserving “Willow” of the “beloved” label compared to its late-’80s predecessor, which consummates on its own simple words, it’s easy enough to like. Is.

‘Willow’ will premiere on November 30 on Disney Plus.

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