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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Return to the world of 'Willow'

Pictured is a painted mural for the original 1988 film, "Willow"

First things first, watch the original movie “Willow” (1988). Starring Warwick Davis in the titular role alongside Val Kilmer as Madmartigan and Joanne Whalley as Sorsha, the film has a similar vibe to “The Princess Bride” (1987) as it tells a story of destiny, magic and love. With a story by George Lucas, the original film is certainly worth a watch. 

Back for a second round, a new series following the 1988 film is now available on Disney+. Taking place two decades after the base film, the television series harkens to similar themes, with repeat performances from Davis and Whalley. Newcomers to the series include Ruby Cruz, Erin Kellyman, Ellie Bamber, Amar Chadha-Patel and Tony Revolori. 

Following a classical hero’s journey plot, the six main characters (Davis, Cruz, Kellyman, Bamber, Chadha-Patel and Revolori) all have their own trials to face as they set off together on a quest. Bamber, Cruz and Kellyman steal the show with their performances as three powerful women: a sorceress, princess and knight, respectively. Chadha-Patel provides much of the comedic relief, serving as a quasi-mentor to the younger characters while also making some very poor decisions of his own along the way. Each episode builds upon a world that was only hinted at in the original film.

Picture the most heavily villain-coded characters imaginable. “Willow” (2022–) brings that imagination to life with a mixture of actors and practical effects, combined with CGI and special effects, to create evil foes of a darker nature than most Disney projects. Of course, these villains would fall flat without the incredible acting to bring them to life on screen, but even naming these villains would spoil a few things. 

Above all, the show is a technical feat. The effects industry has evolved extensively since the movie came out in the late 80s, and these technical upgrades are put on full display in the series. The show’s fantastic soundtrack and score was done by James Newton Howard and Xander Rodzinski. They wonderfully blend themes from the original score with modern music. 

The fight scenes are as spectacular as one would expect from Lucasfilm, the studio that makes “Star Wars” (1977–). Both the magical battles and the sword fights transfix the audience with choreography, effects and fantastical settings. Every new location and set is as intricately detailed as the infamous Diagon Alley shops of “Harry Potter” (2001–11). Those familiar with the 1988 movie will notice props and sets making a reappearance. The cinematography is lovely at times and chilling at others. For a Disney+ original series, “Willow” has the high audience rating of TV-14, denoting some violence and language that may be inappropriate for younger viewers. 

If this show hasn’t been sold to you yet, then ask yourself: Have you ever wanted to see a princess curse? Or pine after her best friend and knight, who is also a woman? If you answered yes to either, then this is the show for you!

If you grew up consuming “The Chronicles of Narnia” (2005–10), “Harry Potter,” “Percy Jackson” (2010–13) and later shows like “Game of Thrones” (2011–19), or are just a huge lover of fantasy media, you’ve probably already binged the show, as it came out back in November 2022. Still, it remains a feat of media, and deserves a larger viewership. 

The growth of these characters in their eight-episode journey is done remarkably well, largely due to the great writing. You will leave wanting to read the source material, only to find that there is no book to read. No, all that’s available is that classic 1988 film. And, while the film is fantastic, the show may just be even better.

5/5 stars

Enter an epic journey filled with magic, good vs. evil and flawed heroes in this entertaining series!