Directed By: Ron Howard
Starring: Val Kilmer, Warwick Davis, Joanne Whalley
Did you ever wonder how good a live action version of The Hobbit would look if it were produced by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard? Well look no further.
Willow (Warwick Davis) is an unlikely hero who must rescue an infant destined to overthrow the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) before she can sacrifice the child. Assisting him in his quest is Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), the opossum turned sorceress Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes) and two comical creatures known as Brownies (Rick Overton, Kevin Pollak). Also along for the ride is Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) who is the daughter of Bavmorda and burgeoning love interest for Madmartigan. Much adventure is had.
Willow started as a story idea by George Lucas who brought the project to Ron Howard during his post-production of Coccoon. Bob Dolman wrote the script. I had fond memories of this film but it has been many years since I last watched it. Sadly it doesn’t hold up as well as I had hoped. I have come to expect this from most of the television and movies from my youth but I always hold out hope. But the epic feel of Willow does remain. There is grandeur and Biblical imagery (Moses in the bull rushes anyone?) that is augmented by the practical effects and actual sets instead of CGI and green screens that proliferate today’s films. Peter Jackson could learn a thing or two from this film.
I remember Willow being considered a bit of a flop back in 1988 and its legacy has been one of silence for the last decade. While other lesser films from the era (I have a list that I’m not going to share) have gone into the pop culture pantheon this charming little film has faded into the background. Maybe this blu-ray release will help to raise Willow’s profile a bit and let it take its rightful place among other great movies from the 80’s.
Presented in Widescreen 2:39:1 and I must say that I am still amazed at how good a lot of these older movies look on blu-ray.
Presented in DTS-HD Surround Dolby Digital. I really need to invest in a surround sound system for my living room. The standard speakers on my television just do not cut it. But everything did sound crisp and clear.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This release does have a moderate amount of bonus features but the packaging is a bit disappointing. Granted most blu-ray/dvd releases these days simply come in a standard blue clamshell case but the lack of a digital copy is surprising. It can’t be that expensive or difficult to package along with the blu-ray and dvd.
As far as the bonus features nothing really jumps out. Sure we get a making of, a video diary, deleted scenes and some special effects behind the scenes but this is all standard stuff nowadays. Strangely there is not a feature commentary. I was hoping for more from Lucas Film and Disney.
As I stated before I hadn’t watched Willow in a very long time and it was fun to revisit a this family-friendly fantasy film from the 80’s (say that ten times fast). In so many ways I enjoyed this more than any of Peter Jackson’s takes on Tolkien even if some of the effects were a bit dated. Maybe now that Disney has acquired LucasFilm we’ll see some more tales from this world. Or more preferably a themed ride.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10