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Willow (Special Edition) (1988)

Comedy and Kids & Family movie directed by Ron Howard

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A Wonderful Family Fantasy

  • Sep 26, 2006
  • by
I remember when "Willow" first came out on the big screen. I remember how cool it was to watch the skull-helmeted General Kael ride onto the screen. I loved the swordplay of Madmartigan. The trolls were the creepiest things I've ever seen. Flash forward twenty-eight years, and "Willow" has lost some of its luster. It doesn't appeal to me as much as it did when I was a youngster. However, it is still a great film to watch with your family.

For those uneducated, "Willow" is the tale of one Willow Ufgood, a little man who stumbles upon the child of a "giant" person. This particular child bears a mark which proclaims her to be the person who will eventually overthrow the evil and powerful Queen Bavmorda. Bavmorda has sent out her warriors to murder every baby in the kingdom until she finds the one with the mark. When dog-like beasts attack Willow's Nelwyn village, he is instructed to take the child and give her to the first Daikini he finds. This is where Madmartigan enters the scenery. He mildly agrees to help Willow on his quest, but things eventually turn into one great escape after another. A climactic battle between good and evil is inevitable.

Willow is played by Warwick Davis. Fans of horror will know him as the leprechaun in the "Leprechaun" films. Fans of sci-fi will know him for playing Wicket, the Ewok friend of Princess Leia in "Return of the Jedi." He also provided the body for Marvin in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." The rest of the cast is built up of huge future stars, little legends, and established character actors. Billy Barty has a bit role as the Nelwyn village wizard. Val Kilmer portrays Madmartigan, the slightly oafish, very deadly swordsman who aids Willow on his quest. Everyone should know Kilmer. He's been in tons of films from "Real Genius" to "The Island of Dr. Moreau" to his legendary turn as Doc Holliday in "Tombstone." Jean Marsh portrays Bavmorda, and, much like another reviewer stated, she seems to be channeling the evil queens of the older Disney flicks. Joanne Whalley (Sorsha) and Pat Roach (Kael) round out a very reliable cast.

The special effects look very dated compared to today's films. However, it should be stated that this film was an early pioneer in modern special effects. There's even a documentary on the DVD explaining the beginnings of "morphing."

Overall, this film has aged relatively well as far as being a family film. It's rather violent at moments, but it is an overall safe film to watch with your kids as long as they can handle violence on the level of films such as another 80's fantasy fest, "Krull." I don't recall much bad language at all, but be warned that there are quite a few deaths in this film, from impaling on swords to being eaten by a very "Rancor" monster-like two-headed dragon. You'll also notice a number of references to the Bible, and to the "Lord of the Rings" books.

If you grew up with this film as I did, you'll probably enjoy the memories of the film. However, it can be rather boring at times for adults. I'd still add it to my collection if I were you, if for no other reason but to enjoy it with your own children and see the amazement in their eyes that once sparkled in yours.

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More Willow (Special Edition) (1988... reviews
review by . June 22, 2006
Before Harry Potter, before the Lord of the Rings, before the slew of comic book movies like Spiderman, X-Men, etc... there were very few good fantasy movies that were not sci-fi. One could probably count them on one hand; Legend, The Dark Crystal, Dragonslayer, and this impressive family movie by George Lucas: Willow. Named after the central character of the movie - Willow Ufgood, this movie follows his adventures across a mystical, wooded land of monsters, trolls, magic, dwarfs, midgets, an evil …
review by . March 29, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
When George Lucas was younger he wanted to become a race car driver. Instead, he has become one of the richest and most powerful men in the movie making industry. Besides dreaming up STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES, Lucas was the driving force behind several other filmmaking projects. One of the best of these is the movie WILLOW.    WILLOW is the story about a Nelwyn (hobbit-like creatures) farmer and hopeful sorcerer named Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) who finds a baby girl in some …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #16
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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About this movie


This epic Lucasfilm fantasy serves up enough magical adventure to satisfy fans of the genre, though it treads familiar territory. With abundant parallels toStar Wars, the story (by George Lucas) follows the exploits of the little farmer Willow (Warwick Davis), an aspiring sorcerer appointed to deliver an infant princess from the evil queen (Jean Marsh) to whom the child is a crucial threat. Val Kilmer plays the warrior who joins Willow's campaign with the evil queen's daughter (Joanne Whalley, who later married Kilmer). Impressive production values, stunning locations (in England, Wales, and New Zealand) and dazzling special effects energize the routine fantasy plot, which alternates between rousing action and cute sentiment while failing to engage the viewer's emotions. A parental warning is appropriate: director Ron Howard has a light touch aimed at younger viewers, but doesn't shy away from grisly swordplay and at least one monster (a wicked two-headed dragon) that could induce nightmares.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Ron Howard
Screen Writer: George Lucas, Bob Dolman
DVD Release Date: November 27, 2001
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
First to Review

"A Charming Tale."
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