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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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"I Hate Trolls!"

  • Dec 23, 2008
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 on her arm, a birthmark that signifies that she will overthrow the evil queen Bavmorda, Bavmorda orders the child's destruction. But the nursemaid who was attending the baby's mother hides the newborn in a pile of laundry and escapes the queen's castle without detection. When Bavmorda discovers that the child is missing, she sends out her soldiers and Death Dogs to retrieve the baby. When the nursemaid sees the approaching Death Dogs, she sends the baby down the river in a raft, which is carried downstream until it washes up on the riverbank of a Nelwyn (a race of short people similar to dwarfs) village. The baby is found by two Nelwyn children who tell their father Willow, a local farmer and aspiring sorcerer's apprentice. Willow doesn't dare tell the other Nelwyns of his discovery for fear that he will be blamed for any misfortune that may befall their village (Nelwyns are naturally superstitious and fearful of the outside world). But after an attack by the Queen's Death Dogs, Willow takes the baby before the village council where he is chosen to take the baby back to the Daikini (the Nelwyn term for tall people) lands. Willow embarks on a perilous journey, with only a small group of Nelwyns, and it's not long before he comes across a charismatic Daikini prisoner named Madmartigan. Madmartigan claims that he would take care of the baby if they would just free him from his hanging cage, which the Nelwyns do with some reluctance. As Willow heads home, he discovers that the baby has been kidnapped by Brownies (tiny mischievous forest sprites) who take the baby to the realm of the Fairy Queen. She bestows unto Willow a magic wand and tells him that he must safeguard the baby, who she tells him is named Elora Danan. Following the Fairy Queen's instructions, Willow then takes Elora to the island where famous sorceress Fin Raziel has been exiled. He is guided by two of the Brownies, Franjean and Rool, and soon they meet up with Madmartigan. Bavmorda's soldiers track them down and Madmartigan proves to be a valiant warrior and expert swordsman. By the time Willow finds Fin Raziel, she has been turned into a possum-like creature by Bavmorda (why Bavmorda didn't simply kill Raziel, I'll never know). Bavmorda's soldiers are lead by her beautiful and rebellious daughter Sorsha, who captures Willow and his companions. After a daring escape Willow, Elora, Madmartigan, and Raziel seek out the castle of Tir Asleen where they will be safe from Bavmorda's army. However, upon their arrival they discover that the castle is under a curse, and worse, it's crawling with hairy, odorous, flesh-eating trolls. When Bavmorda's army attacks and Elora is abducted, Madmartigan defends the castle and stages a climactic battle against Bavmorda's vile forces. Meanwhile Willow and Raziel face Bavmorda in an exciting final confrontation of magic against magic.

Warwick Davis as Willow
The cast includes Warwick Davis as Willow, Val Kilmer as Madmartigan, Jean Marsh as Bavmorda, Patricia Hayes as Raziel, and Joanne Whalley as Sorsha.
Val Kilmer as Madmartigan

The film's strengths are its elaborate action scenes depicting swordfights, battles with vicious trolls, and a fight against a two-headed, fire-breathing dragon. However the film suffers from a script, which isn't sure whether the film is intended for a sophisticated adult audience or an audience of children. Ultimately the film appeals to an audience of predominantly male viewers, between the ages of six and thirteen years old.
Special Edition DVD
The special features on this DVD include an entertaining audio commentary by Warwick Davis, "Willow: The Making of an Adventure" vintage featurette, "From Morf to Morphing: the Dawn of Digital Filmmaking" featurette, production stills and image gallery, and theatrical trailers and TV spots.
Willow DVD Willow film poster Willow and Elora Willow's Family

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January 10, 2010
Pretty good movie. I was in college when I first saw this one in theaters.
January 10, 2010
I'm really going to date myself and reveal your seniority here. This was only the second movie I saw in theatres. The first was "The Princess Bride" the year before when I was 2. LOL!
January 10, 2010
My age isn't a secret buddy...I've been 37 for a VERY long time. ;-P My profile photo was taken in 12/2008...
More Willow reviews
review by . December 12, 2005
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.      …
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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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