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I attended a screen writing class once, and the teacher said that the
worst movie ever made was "Willow" ... he also defended "White Chicks"
(in the same class) as being some sort of underrated theatrical gem.
What an idiot. Obviously, this man has no soul.
Anyway, it must have been this sort of "I'm too good for that" attitude that killed "Willow" in the theaters. I remember seeing previews for it when I was a kid, and there was nothing more in the world that I had wanted to watch. I was raised on "The Neverending Story," "Legend," "Krull," "The Beastmaster," and "The Dark Crystal." So, sure, I loved fantasy. It was my favorite genre. And even though many will say that "Lord of the Rings" is better, I have to disagree. "The Lord of the Rings" is a good melding of drama, real-life struggle and fantasy, but's it not fun to watch. "Willow," on the other hand, is a blast to watch.
The music from Horner's great ... I can still whistle the adventure theme song, and often do sometimes. Val Kilmer as Madmartigan was a great rogue hero, who had plenty of great lines, laughs. Sorcia was by Joanne Whalley, was hot as hell ... a fiery redhead who just refused to be ordered or commanded. General Kael (who was supposedly based on one of Lucas' critics) is awesome. His look spawned an entire decade of me thinking that people with skull masks were horribly cool. The woman who played Fin Razel (sp?) was great. The Brownies were hysterical. And last but not least, give it up for Billy Barty and Warwick Davis, little people with big roles. I think little people probably thank Mr. Lucas and Ron Howard for making them stars for once, for giving them a showcase piece. Davis really had no better role in his life than this one. And he shined in it.
Well, if that particular teacher is reading this by any chance, I hope you go back and re-watch this as a kid. For me, and obviously many others on this website, the movie was more than a fun, little escape ... it was almost a genre-leading film. If there's one thing that pre-prequel George Lucas was good at, it was at giving the audience a good time ... Indiana Jones, Willow, Star Wars ... the best adventure/fantasy films ever to come out. Each of them with charming heroes, obvious bad guys, magic, swords, and humor.
"Pirates of the Carribbean" resurrected this sort of cinema, I think, and the American public responded to it with verve. I still remember hard-nosed critic Lisa Schwarzbaum giving "Pirates" a D rating in Entertainment Weekly. I bet she about choked on her own vomit when she saw how much fun everyone had with the film.
And "Willow" is the same thing. It's pure magic. Pure escape. Especially good for children, but good for the adults, too. If you can't have fun with this one, than you better go get your laughs from movies like "White Chicks" ... just don't be surprised when the kids come out making jokes about d*cks and p*ssies afterward.
I'm typing this being dictated to by my 11 year old son, in whose
opinion this is the best movie he has ever seen. He's outgrown the
Disney variety and various animations but he's still not ready for
hardcore action movies so what is there for him to enjoy - well as a
mom, I can tell you, very little. That's where the fantasy movies are
so great. They have mystery, action, a little romance but the greatest
value comes from the good moral story of good wins over evil, truth
over deceit and small truimphs over powerful.
The most amazing fact is that at the time of first seeing this movie, it is 16 years old - Thank you George Lucas, thank you Ron Howard and thank you for a wonderful cast who have brought this eternal story to eternal life and I'm not joking either. I think we are on viewing #25 already and still going strong.
Movies are about people sharing a story but magic certainly helps get the message across...
(At least I do, every time I see it.) I first watched this movie a long time
ago, and have seen it several more times over the years (it pops up on TV
somewhat frequently). I have enjoyed it with each viewing, mainly because I
just take it for what it is to me namely, just a fun, escapist fantasy
flick that whisks you away to a magical kingdom where all kinds of mystical,
cute, clever, and at times even sinister things are happening, all against a
backdrop of remarkably beautiful scenery. Oh, yeah: you also get to see Val
Kilmer (Madmartigan) step squarely into a fresh pile of troll poop truly a
classic moment in cinema history!
I noticed that other reviewers herein went to great efforts to point out glaring similarities between Willow and Star Wars, and these similarities apparently ruined the movie for them (or at least, they just didn't *like* Willow). Well, to each their own As for me, I won't even begin to compare Willow to Star Wars, because: (drum roll please...) I've never even seen Star Wars. Not even once. So there!! ("You've never seen STAR WARS!!" I can hear the collective gasp of all you moviegoers out there. Yeah, okay, so just shoot me already!). But similarities shmimilarities! As Bill Murray said in Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!..."
Anyway, if you haven't seen Willow, then I would recommend you see it at once and enjoy it for what it is: a fun, escapist fantasy movie that (heaven knows, current events and all...) we could all use a little more of in this day and age. If you have already seen it and love it, well, go see it again! And finally, if you have seen it but don't like it because of annoying similarities between it and Star Wars, well, what can I say? I would hazard that, all things considered, Willow nevertheless DOES have its own special charms that you probably won't find in Star Wars. At the very least I haven't heard that Madmartigan's counterpart in Star Wars, Han Solo, stepped in a big wet pile of troll poop!
Well, I'm glad I got all this off my chest. I feel BETTER!!
I remember seeing this film in theaters back in '88 and long to see it again on the big screen. There is a motherload of crappy fantasy flicks out there and this one is better than most. I was kinda young when I saw it and didn't find it too violent but some parents may think it gruesome at times. I myself feel that gave it an edge. Along with swordplay there are nasty trolls,a 2-headed beast,mean-spirited characters and some intense scenes at the end. Of course there are lots of special effects. This was a technically well made film with awesome cinematography and interesting locations. Every now and again Fox airs the movie but it's 2 1/2 hr running can be really cut. Ya gotta see it!
When Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon in 1969, the whole world paused;
now such things are second nature to everyone, veritably taken for granted
as more and more science fiction becomes reality every day. In 1977, when
George Lucas made `Star Wars,' it turned the cinematic universe on it's ear
with it's scope and vision, offering things neither seen nor experienced by
anyone before; now his accomplishments are virtually taken for granted, his
vision dismissed by many with a shrug. But in this original story by Lucas,
that vision is captured once again and proffered to the world via the magic
of the movies, in `Willow,' directed by Ron Howard.
A long time ago, in a galaxy perhaps far, far away, a baby comes into the care of the elvish Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) and his wife, Kaiya (Julie Peters). The infant bears the birthmark of the one prophesied to come who will put an end to the tyrannical rule of the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh). But the Queen, too, knows of the prophecy and is seeking the baby bearing the telltale mark. For the sake of his village, as well as the safety of the child, it falls to Willow to transport the baby to a safe haven beyond the boundaries of his land and the reach of Queen Bavmorda. So Willow sets out upon his journey, and along the way finds an ally-- maybe-- in the person of the self-proclaimed `World's greatest swordsman,' Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), and together (sort of) they embark upon an adventure that will ultimately lead them to a final confrontation with the evil Queen herself.
With some help from George Lucas, Ron Howard delivers this highly imaginative tale-- which bears that unmistakable Lucas touch-- with a touch of magic of his own. A showcase of special F/X-- it pioneered the `morphing' technique so vital to the success of films like `The Abyss' (filmed one year after this one) and `Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991)-- it is nevertheless decidedly not a `special F/X' movie. The F/X, though a big part of the film, to be sure, do not supersede the story. And because of that, it makes that necessary emotional connection with the characters possible, and takes the whole film to a higher level. A big part of what has made Lucas and Howard so successful, in fact, is that innate ability of being able to tap into the humanity of any given story (With Lucas, for example, his `American Graffiti' and even `THX-1138,' and Howard's `Parenthood,' `Night Shift' and `Apollo 13') and knowing how to convey it to their audience. It's the difference between being a true filmmaker, and just someone to whom an opportunity is handed who simply hasn't the insight or sense of human nature to know what to do with it (Like Adam Shankman with `The Wedding Planner,' Jeff Franklin's `Love Stinks,' Nick Gomez with `Drowning Mona' or Peter Ho-sun Chan's `The Love Letter.' All movies that suffered greatly because of their director's inability to do what Lucas and Howard do so proficiently and seemingly with facility).
In the title role, Warwick Davis does a good job of bringing Willow to life, as does Val Kilmer in the flashier role of Madmartigan. Joanne Whalley does a decent turn as Sorsha, daughter of the evil Queen, but is overshadowed by the deliciously sinister rendering of Bavmorda by Jean Marsh, whose wickedness is shamefully delightful.
In a supporting role, however-- and with extremely limited screen time-- it is Julie Peters who really captures the attention with a sincere and affecting performance as Kaiya. She has such a pure and natural manner that it's hard to believe this is an actor playing a part; the realism she achieves, in fact, can be compared to that of Harriet Andersson in any one of a number of Ingmar Bergman's films. Her ability is a true gift that endows her with a quality and a presence that would make her an asset to any film, as she certainly is here. And it's a shame she has apparently never been afforded the opportunity of plying her craft more-- `Willow' is her only feature film. It's a singular success, however, and one of which she can be proud. Her portrayal of Kaiya goes far in demonstrating the positive effect a supporting role can have on a film, especially when it's this well acted.
The supporting cast includes Patricia Hayes (Fin Raziel), Billy Barty (High Aldwin), Pat Roach (General Kael), Gavan O'Herlihy (Airk), David Steinberg (Meegosh), Mark Northover (Burglekutt), Kevin Pollak (Rool), Rick Overton (Franjean) and Maria Holvoe (Cherlindrea). With an intelligent screenplay by Bob Dolman and original music by James Horner, `Willow' is an entertaining, enlightening film, rich in characterization and metaphor, with a subtle message and a moral that unobtrusively makes a statement about diversity and the value of an individual's contributions to the society of which he is a part; as well as the fact that one person can, indeed, make a difference. Visually stunning, too, it's a transporting experience truly filled with magic, and a journey definitely worth taking. I rate this one 9/10.
Being a university history major, trained to examine documents and
videos for hidden meanings, and imbued with a skeptical and analytical
mind, one might expect that someone like me wouldn't appreciate this
kind of film. It's one dimensional, it plays on typical fantasy
stereotypes, and it doesn't really have anything that previous fantasy
films didn't except for... style.
Yes, I consider this a stylish film. Mostly because even after 'growing up', I can still watch this film and be as wrapped up in the story and characters as I was when I was a little boy. It's formulaic plot and generally one-dimensional characters are a large part of that reason - the film makes no pretensions of being something it isn't. It's honest, a quality lacking in so very many films these days which seem to be produced only to suit the latest fashion.
The characters are all well acted - there's no ham acting to be found here in my opinion. Clearly, the actors had fun with the roles and gave them as much life as they could. Madmartigan is man with a dark past, clearly an anti-hero redeemed by the end of the film. Airk, the 'good' general is everything one expects in a 'knight in shining armor' - chivalrous, dedicated, brave. Bavmorda is the quintessential 'wicked witch', scheming, maniacal, obsessed with power. It is these characters that play so well into the average person's conception of fantasy fare that is precisely what makes the film a success - it entertains us because it knows what we like, and what we expect to see, and then delivers it with action and a bombastic musical score.
Critics panned it for being unoriginal, but being original wasn't the point of this movie. The point was to entertain, to make us thrill to a tale of high adventure of dragons, of far away lands, of swords and sorcery. On this account, no other fantasy film (with the possible exception of Conan the Barbarian) has ever done this so exceedingly well.
A wonderful fantasy full with lots of wonderful creatures and characters.
The plot is great and the cast is brilliant.
I wish this movie was more known, it's almost a hidden
The movie is just one exciting ride after the other.
It's one of the best fantasy movies ever made, and if you're a fantasy fan you just got to see this one. I wish there were more movies of that kind, hopefully the upcoming Lord Of The Rings will deliver similar excitement.
I think the people who wrote negative remarks about this movie are a bunch of morons, these are the people that have made movies so horrible today, These same people rave about the cookie cutter formatted movies with teens and more teens. This movie was made very well considering the Era. The story line was very entertaining and the cast was fantastic every step of the way. I've read people's comments that this is a rip off the lord of the rings. #1) Half of you out there didn't even know the lord of the rings until they made it a movie, a fine job, but it left a very bad taste in my mouth considering Hllywood has run of ideas so now they take fantastic stories from our past and turn them into money. Sacriledge! cat in the hat, grinch, little rascals etc Why not take the movie for what it is and leave well enough alone. Every movie can't possibly be an academy award winner. This movies is for the adventurer inside all of us, the one we feel when we watch movies about treasure hunting or space exploration. I recommend this movie to all (especially those who love flicks like Hercules etc) A fine job by Ron Howard...........I wish you made another one like this.
I literally waited three years to see this movie. I couldn't afford the
theater at the time, and I do not have cable (I refuse to pay to watch
TV), so I had to wait for it to come out on video.
It was well worth the wait. I own it on DVD now, and I must say the DVD version is outstanding! (but I'm still spun out on how much clarity and quality of sound you get with DVD) This movie captured my heart and never fails to make me laugh, and make me smile. I loved the movie.
The direction and acting were wonderful, the scenery was dead on and the costuming and props were top row. I also loved the subsequent books by George Lucas and Claremont. Forgive me, but I can't remember Claremont's first name.
Shadow Dawn and
Excellent trilogy based on the introductory "Willow." Kind of like Lucas's Lord of the Rings starting his the Hobbit, which is Willow. Excellent movie, excellent books which I would pay to see on screen.
It's one of the Fiend's many favorites and gets a sure-footed 9.8/10 from...
For its day, Willow was one of the better fantasy movies. The effects look a
little dated now (especially the two-headed beastie) but it has enough
humour and action to keep most satisfied. It's no LOTR, but then it was made
14 years ago.
Warwick Davis plays Willow, a Nelwynn, a race of hobbit-sized folk who don't have anything to do with "The Big People" as they call humans. Basically, it's the Shire transplanted into this movie, but without the budget. Billy Barty is the village's wizard and basically plays the character Gweldor again (from Masters of the Universe) but without the silly make-up and stupid musical key.
Val Kilmer is Madmartigan, a human warrior who befriends Willow and helps him on his journey with varying degrees of ulterior motive.
The acting is all reasonably good. Warwick Davis was only 18 when this film was released so his performance is very good considering his age and lack of experience (prior to this he'd played a goblin in Labyrinth and an ewok in Return of the Jedi). It's also interesting to see Pat Roach here. Pat was a former wrestler and has carved out a little niche for himself playing villains and tough guys. Here he plays General Kael, the right-hand henchman of Queen Bavmorda, played with gusto by Jean Marsh. That woman is truly frightening.
It's all good fun and the two funniest characters in the movie are Franjean and Rool, two Brownies, who "help" Willow regardless of the latters wishes. They have the funniest double act and reminded me more than a little of Merry and Pippin in LOTR.
All in all well worth a watch if you want some pure, and somewhat silly, entertainment.
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