I wanted to give Willow a rewatch before the sequel series premiered on Disney +. This movie was a staple for me growing up, like I have lost count of how times I’ve seen it. I’ve watched it less in the last few years and I’m always happy to see that it holds up 34 years later. I didn’t know growing up that Ron Howard directed this movie and its something that I always forget until I start the movie.
I think that’s because George Lucas’s fingerprints are felt all over Willow. It very much has the same feel as early Star Wars, which makes since Star Wars is what I like to call Science Fantasy. Willow is a George Lucas story translated through Bob Dolman. There’s so much in the world that makes it feel lived in and makes the story as compelling as it is, even now. The story being told visually by Ron Howard is yet another reason why the story continues to be as compelling as well. Howard’s visual storytelling makes it look and feel epic, which is helped along by James Horner’s score. The score also adds to the movie’s heart. It not only gives the movie some heart but also tugs at your heartstrings.
Willow is either the movie or one of the movies I think of first when I think of a good portion of this cast. Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Kevin Pollack, Jean Marsh, and Joanne Whalley are the members of the cast that have solidified a connection between the actors and this movie. Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan is a fun character and kind of makes the connection between Willow and the original three Star Wars movies make sense. He’s the morally dubious scoundrel that slowly becomes the lovable scoundrel with a heart of gold. That’s the most obvious connection between the two Lucas stories. Marsh’s performance is iconic and what I think of whenever I see her in anything else, even if it’s what is essentially a cameo. The titular character is who I think of whenever I think of Warwick Davis, even though the Leprechaun series comes a close second. The entire cast is honestly amazing and makes the movie what it is.
The effects for Willow still look pretty good. Some of the blue screen stuff looks dodgy but it happens in moments where you’re too engrossed in the story to notice, or at least I am. The CGI was groundbreaking at the time and its honestly still impressive. The stop-motion effects for the monsters still look great. The stunts throughout Willow are amazing. The sword fights are great and the tricks that Val Kilmer is able to do on camera adds to his character being the greatest swordsman alive. The design for some of the armor, especially General Kael’s armor is some of the most iconic armor I’ve seen in fantasy movies.
Willow is a fantasy movie that I still love and will do so a long time. It is part of the foundation of my love of the fantasy genre. It also isn’t afraid to get dark but never loses the fantasy feel. I know that there were a trilogy of novels written by Chris Claremont, but I’ve never read them. I feel like the new series will ignore those novels and tell its own story. Willow is available to stream on Disney +. I give Willow 9 magical acorns out of 10.