Movie Review: Willow (1988)

Synopsis: Willow Ufgood, a struggling Nelwyn farmer and wannabe sorcerer, discovers a Daikini baby in the river near his farm. The baby is the center of a prophecy foretelling an evil queen's downfall and, when the queen sends her killer dogs to his village in search of the child, Willow is given the task of returning the baby to her own people. However, he ultimately joins forces with an outcast swordsman to help defeat the queen.

Who's in it? The movie stars Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh and Billy Barty.

Review: My wife and youngest daughter were at a high school basketball game yesterday evening so I convinced my oldest daughter to watch a movie with me. This was one of my favorite films growing up and I figured she would enjoy it too so I picked it out.

Even though I remembered enjoying this movie when I was a teenager, it had been about 20 years since I last saw it and, because of that, I was a little worried it wouldn't be as good as I remembered it. However, after seeing it again, I found it was just as enjoyable as the first time I watched it and I am happy to say my daughter enjoyed it too.

To be fair, the special effects in this movie are a little dated and my daughter found them a bit laughable at times when compared to CGI today. That being said, the plot of this fantasy movie still wound up being solid. I absolutely loved how two men who were basically outcasts in their respective societies and were being asked to be reluctant heroes still managed to join forces and work together.

The movie also has an outstanding supporting cast of characters that both brought their own personalities into the film and helped give a good overview of the world Willow (Davis) lived in, filled with everything from brownies to trolls. Normally, I get a bit bored with films that have a lot of characters to remember because they tend to drag on but this movie managed to have the supporting cast while still keeping the plot moving.

One thing that did surprise me about the movie was it was a bit more intense in spots than I remembered. That scene with people being turned into pigs was something you would expect in a low-budget horror film and my 17-year-old daughter had to cover her eyes when she saw a troll get turned inside out.  At minimum, it made me glad I waited until she was a teenager to watch this movie with her rather than doing it when she was much younger.

My only real complaint about the film is the character General Kael (Pat Roach). He looked the part of a villain and should have been a great nemesis for Madmartigan (Kilmer), but the movie does a poor job of establishing him as such. Throughout the bulk of the film, he is mostly just there and doesn't do a whole lot to make the viewer buy into the character.  If the film would have made an effort to establish him as an accomplished swordsman, heartless killer, or even had him kick a puppy or something, it would have made him a little more interesting.

Final Opinion: I feel like the movie could have done a better job with General Kael but, overall, it was as good as a film as I remembered. Even with the 1980s special effects, it remains one of my favorite fantasy movies and I managed to make my daughter a fan too. 

My Grade: A-


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