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The 1988 Ron Howard-directed fantasy film about a Nelwyn, who must save his world from an evil sorceress.

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A True Nugget Of Joy

  • Dec 12, 2005
  • by
Pros: Everything.

Cons: I tried to think of some just to be fair…but I can’t. Haha.

The Bottom Line: Just what were those two Brownies doing with that fairy love dust anyway? I really wanna know this…

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

So I’m watching it right now. No, really, the movie is playing right behind me on my little $100 Daewoo TV. Haha. Ok, let’s start.

Willow is one of those completely and utterly underrated movies. The kind that comes out and doesn’t do well because A.) the public isn’t ready for it and B.) critics give it bad reviews because they think they know what’s good and what’s not (and usually they’re wrong – at least in my experience). But mostly because of A. Willow is a great collaboration of two great minds (three if you’re like me); George Lucas (story), Ron Howard (director), and because I’m super-biased, James Horner (music). Get these together and what do you have? Gold. Joy. Good things like that.

The Story:
There is a prophecy, one that says a child will be born bearing a mark designating her as the future queen who will destroy the evil Queen Bavmorda. Bavmorda is currently spreading her forces across the lands, laying claim to everything and in general, doing what it is evil tyrants do – make everyone else miserable.

Nevertheless, the child is born and escapes death by the courageousness of a midwife who eventually, to save the baby’s life, sets her down the river. The baby is found by the two adorable children of Willow Ufgood, and though initially Willow wants nothing to do with the baby, he and his family fall in love with her. But when one of the Queen’s ugly attack dogs shows up in the Nelwyn village, the decision is made that Willow and a band of select Nelwyns are to return her to the Dikini world. There they meet Madmartigan (who is stuck in a cage even though he claims to be the greatest swordsman that ever lived) and Willow refuses to give up the baby to him, leading the others to abandon him.

With Willow stuck on his own with a special child, his meager magic skills, and a crazy swordsman, what else could happen but…everything he never expected? Love, adventure, and rather ugly monsters await him...

Everything Else:
Yes. That’s all I’m going to give you because so much happens in the movie. This ranks up there as one of my favorite movies, and I think it’s really sad it got the response that it did, but I’m convinced that people just weren’t ready for good fantasy like they were for Lord of the Rings or even Star Wars. Just look at the Epinions reviews it has now – 4 or more stars on all the reviews. People are more open now, so it gets a better take.

The characters are so different and the acting (for what I know of it) is great. Hey, it makes me happy so that’s good enough for me. I love Warwick Davis (Willow) in this movie, and even though a lot of times Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) is a complete goof half the time, he has his high points. He’s a good guy at heart, even if he isn’t exactly the ideal “good guy.” If you’ve seen Top Gun and The Saint, it is a lot of fun seeing Val swing a sword around and make the occasional idiot out of himself. Then there are the two Brownies, Rool (Kevin Pollack) and Franjean (Rick Overton) who make for the best comic relief ever. Even then they’re still important for the movie and are so gung-ho it’s great. They’re so little, and yet Franjean has the arrogance to insult Willow for being small. Oh the irony.

One character I have to mention is Gerenal Kael (Pat Roach…wait a second! He was Toth-Amon in Conan the Destroyer! How awesome is that?! …and how did I miss that in the first place?). If anything, watch this movie just to see how much he yells. Yes, he yells pretty much everything, at times if not for the sake of yelling. My sister and I love it. It’s not annoying, it just amuses us at times. Jean Marsh did an awesome job being the evil Queen – very convincing. If there’s anyone I might question it’s Joanne Whalley as Madmartigan’s love interest Sorsha. Only her ability to be a warrior. She didn’t have many lines and the ones she did have were delivered just fine and dandy. I just wonder if she had someone teaching her how to be a fighter or not…

Special effects – well hey, this was made in 1988 so it’s not as though they’re going to be super-magical or anything. But with that in mind, especially since I often grow tired of the usual computer generated special FX, I enjoy them very much. No computer generated stuff means sets, makeup, and other things that I’m still not sure exactly how they might have done it. I like not knowing.

As for the overall story, some have compared it to both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and I think it’s very unfair to do that. Even the little things such as the inclusion of usually unseen Brownies makes it different. It’s ridiculous to compare it to Star Wars, and it’s still very different from Lord of the Rings except maybe in the fact that Willow is a small person doing something really major in order to stop ugly evil. Still, when you think about it, that’s not too unlike a lot of other fantasy books out there. Heck, I have a story in which a few members of a race of small people are involved with the downfall of evil. It happens. Not everyone can be typical seized human. I’ll stop there before I ramble more in defense of my beloved Willow.

So really, give it a chance. If you don’t like fantasy, well, maybe not so much, but I will always think it’s a great movie. And especially with James Horner as the composer, you know the music is good (you can hear components from Willow in both Braveheart and Troy – it’s cool). But you already know how I love it – go find out for yourself if you feel the same way!


As a final note, I absolutely have to put up some of my favorite quotes from this movie – and if you’ve seen it, maybe you’ll remember them:

“Your mother was a lizard!”

"Keep walkin' hero!"

“Get your hair outta my face or I’ll chop it off.”

"You? What did you do?"
"All you did was hang around and eat our eggs! Eh!"

(..did I mention you get to see Val Kilmer in drag? *wahahaha*)


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More Willow reviews
review by . December 23, 2008
Willow DVD
George Lucas (Star Wars Trilogy) has always enjoyed delving into mythological archetypes in his films and when Willow was released in 1988, it served as an example of his fascination with stories of unlikely and unexpected heroes. Directed by Ron Howard (Splash), Willow was a Box Office and critical disappointment when it first debuted, however since then it has developed a loyal following of diehard fans.             When a baby girl is born bearing a birthmark …
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Nicole ()
Ranked #166
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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About this movie



Director: Ron Howard
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 1988
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: George Lucas
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) , 20th Century Fox
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The Best Fantasy Films, Part I


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