Review by Dan Skip Allen
Willow was a fantasy-adventure movie made by Lucasfilm and directed by Ron Howard, not George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg, which in this era of Lucasfilm was a surprise. The Star Wars and Indiana Jones films were a part of the bedrock of this studio. Willow, on the other hand, was a fun movie with breakout performances from Val Kilmer and its title actor Warwick Davis. It brought me and others my age to a place and time like no other. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, I had no idea we would return to the magical world of Willow. I'm very glad we are in the form of a Disney+ Series.
Willow follows a group of unlikely heroes on a journey across many lands to find a young prince kidnapped by the evil Croan, the leader of a band of malformed men. She wants to bring darkness to the land. Kit (Ruby Cruz) is a princess with a fighting spirit, Jade (Erin Kellyman) is her trusted friend and companion, Dove (Ellie Bamber) is a kitchen hand with a secret, and a few others are led by Willow Ufgood (Warrick Davis). Together, this band of misfits goes on a paralysis mission.
I never knew I would ever get another trip to the wonderful world George Lucas and Ron Howard created all those years ago, but I have. The episodes I have seen so far were enough for me to be fully invested in this show. It has gotten off to a good start. A series like this needs to hook those watching it, and this one did that in two different ways. The first is by giving some backstory between the film and the new series, and the other is by creating a new adventure I can get behind involving some new and exciting characters.
With a series like Willow or any fantasy adventure film or television series, you have to have a beautiful world to create if you are the showrunner or filmmaker. The writer must expand on the mythos of the world in which the show or film exists. In this case, the writer and creator of the series, Jonathan Kasden, has added new threats to these characters and tried to expand on this wonderful world created by Lucas and Howard. The show was filmed in Wales, adding an element of beauty to a series that already has enough going for it.
The character development in the series so far is excellent. Focusing on the woman in the show, the creator Kasdan wants to convey female empowerment. That sort of thing is going around a lot in Hollywood these days. These three female leads have shown a lot of panache and spunk, making them all very interesting to follow in the series. Each of their arcs will be different, but it will be fascinating to see where they lead. They all have different journey's that they are on while all still being part of a fellowship together.
In an era of reboots and sequels, Lucasfilm under Disney hasn't had the best track record. A few Star Wars films and streaming series have been good, but not all of them. From what I've seen, Willow is headed in a positive direction. With Kasdan, the son of legendary filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan, at the helm, this show is in the right hands. With Warrick Davis returning, it seems like he has gotten invested in this series from the start. That's a good sign.
Willow is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes air subsequent Wednesdays. Three out of eight episodes reviewed.