Alas, the end result has been unkindly if accurately described as the bastard son of Lord of the Rings, with Star Wars as its doting mother. The plot line (plucky young man sent off on a quest to protect something which could change the reign of evil) has obvious links to Tolkien's classic; Kilmer's Madmartigan (the diamond in the rough) has distinct similarities to Hans Solo. And with the great advances in modern cinemas special effects, Willow's ferocious two-headed dragons now look like something out of 1963's Jason and the Argonauts. However, even though it marked the end of the road for fantasy films in the 1980s, Willow's combination of locations, set design and groundbreaking SFX set new standards and influenced much modern cinema, including Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings. All in all, this is a movie with its heart, soul and magic in the right place.
On the DVD: Willow is brought up to date on DVD with this excellent special effects enhancing anamorphic transfer of the original 2.35:1 screen ratio; the Dolby 5.1 surround sound boosts the power behind Badmorda's roar as well as spotlighting James Horner's swashbuckling score. A lively commentary is offered by Warwick Davis, although he has a tendency to dwell on his own musings rather than the film as a whole. Other features include "The Making of the Adventure", which is a standard TV behind-the-scenes documentary/advert and a wealth of TV spots, trailers and photos. By far the most interesting feature is the "Morf to Morphing: The Dawn of Digital Film" documentary including interviews with George Lucas, Ron Howard and Dennis Muren (the renowned special effects guru) on the creation of morphing and its influence on later movies. -Nikki Disney
Language: English Subtitles: Hard of Hearing English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish Aspect Ratio; 2.35:1 (Widescreen 16x9) Sound; English 5.1
English 2.0 Surround Warwick Davis Audio Commentary Featurette Willow: Making of Adventure Featurette Morf to Morphing: The Dawn of Digital Filmmaking Stills Gallery (60 stills) Theatrical Trailer Two Theatrical Teaser Trailers Eight TV Spots
The film tells the story of young Willow Ufgood, the reluctant hero of his Nelwyn village as he is chosen to return a very important Daikini (the Nelwyn word for humans!) baby to her own kind. However, Willow gets a lot more than he bargained for along the way, joining forces with a great (and often silly) swordsman, Madmartigan, two bossy and very short brownies, and the mysterious Fin Raziel, in his quest.
I loved everything about this film ... the music is beautiful, as are the settings (filmed in a variety of locations from Wales to New Zealand), the special effects are good, and the story is the classic and timeless tale of good versus evil, narrating the lives of many memorable characters. The film combines humour, action, fantasy and romance in a very satisfactory and watchable two hours. What more could you ask for?
And a note about the special DVD features as well ... crystal clear sound and vision, added extras such as interviews, trailers (some of which made me laugh) and stills from the making of the film, and a feature on the way the special effects were produced. I enjoyed seeing all of these - this classic is definitely worth the money!
Top marks for a film that I'll always enjoy.
There are some films which are timeless. You see them as a child and enjoy them equally as an adult. The adventure never pales, the wonder never ceases, and despite their clear existence in a world very different to your own, you care deeply about the characters and what becomes of them. No matter how many times you watch it. Willow is one such film.
Looking for something for the kids? Willow is perfect, and they'll wonder at your good taste. Want something to curl up to on the sofa with your other half? Willow's guaranteed to make 'em smile, laugh, and (when they think you're not looking) mist up a bit.
Warwick Davis is excellent in the title role, and his performance is even more remarkable given that he was only 17 when it was made. But Val Kilmer steals the show as the swordsman who finally finds something to believe in, wisecracking his way through various feats of heroism. The actor improvised much of his dialogue, which really makes it crackle. And watch out for the smoldering scenes with Joanne Whalley, parelleling their burgeoning off-screen romance during the filming, which ended in their marriage.
If you have never seen it, buy it now. If you have already experienced its magic, you already know you're going to!
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