Bullet Points: Willow
You can’t go into every movie expecting the same level of entertainment. A David Fincher film won’t provide the same experience as a Spielberg or Joss Whedon film but for a fantasy film to work it first needs to make you forget you’re in a make believe world and you have to be able to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Willow has that in spades! What it lacks in other areas it makes up for on the one thing that you can’t fake; charm. And as we’ve learned from some of George Lucas’s other projects, no amount of computer effects can make up for a lack of charm.
The Gist: In a fantasy land filled with sorcery and epic sword fighting, a young aspiring sorcerer named Willow embarks on a dangerous quest to protect a baby destined to bring about the end of an Evil Queen.
The Cast: Willow was dreamed up by Lucas after meeting Warwick Davis on the set of Return of the Jedi as a starring vehicle for the young man. I use the term ‘man’ somewhat loosely as Davis was only 17 during pre-production and 18 during shooting of the film. To carry a film as big as Willow, directed by Ron Howard, being his first ever starring role, must have been a serious amount of stress on his tiny little body. Davis more than holds his own but the supporting cast is equally marvelous. Val Kilmer is beyond cool and Kevin Pollok and Rick Overton as the two brownies are hilarious in each and every scene.
The Villains: The evil queen Bavmorda doesn’t need a backstory, she is one evil bitch. She is the evil queen of the old school Disney movies that is simply evil for evils sake. Nowadays, Hollywood feels like they have to give every villain a backstory and we’re supposed to empathize with them but Bavmorda gets none of that and she’s better off for it. Her henchman is the awesomely masked General Kael, with his skull helm and coarse roar in battle, he was definitely one of my favorite bad guys as a kid. Sorsha, the daughter of the ruthless queen and the red-haired beauty that catches the wandering eye of Madmartigan, would cause many a man to switch sides mid-battle. Her many dastardly deeds are quickly forgotten when she decides to join Willow and Madmartigan against her evil mother.
The Action: Do you like kickass sword fights ? The correct answer is yes, and the follow-up to that is you need to get yourself in front of Willow once again. George Lucas has taken all sorts of crap since the release of the Star Wars prequels, and for good reason, but his heart is all over this film and every single character has more depth than some of the characters from the prequel trilogy. The CGI is great for the year of its release and Val Kilmer is an absolute boss with a sword !
The Verdict: If you couldn’t already tell, I am a huge fan of Willow. Davis is exceptional and Val Kilmer is so cool that you can’t help but cheer for him the entire film. There is a lot of humor that stands out and will keep this movie watchable for ages to come. According to Lucas and Davis, there is the potential for a sequel so keep your fingers crossed folks !