Everyone knows these days about Peter Jackson’s legendary Lord of the Ring’s trilogy… But did you know that before there was a Hobbit named Frodo Baggins who set out on a quest with his friends to end the reign of the cursed Ring… There was a Nelwyn named Willow who set out on a quest with his friends to protect the child who would ultimately end the reign of the evil queen?
That’s right folks, the name of this truly classic gem is Willow.
What is Willow you might be asking…
Written by George Lucas (American Graffiti) and Bob Doleman (The Banger Sisters) and directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and starring Warwick Davis (The Leprechaun series) Joanne Whalley (Navy Seals) and Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Willow tells the legendary tale of Willow Ufgood (Davis) A simple farmer/wizards apprentice who is living a simple life raising a couple of kids with his wife just out side of a little Nelwyn Village, until one day when that all changed…
A human baby comes floating on some plants in a river that Willow’s children are playing at. Real curious and interested in the baby, the kids run up to the house and grab Willow dragging him down there to the baby.
Of course Willow thinks the baby is a huge inconvenience and even at one point tries to get rid of the baby, but after bringing the child up to his place and seeing how his family had just fallen in love with the child, his dislike slowly turns to like…
Ultimately he ends up having to take the baby to the village elders to decide what to do with this regular sized human child. When he brings the child up to the elders of the village they all decide that they are going to have to take the child up to where a regular sized human can raise and take care of her. They decide that the baby should be left in a heavily trafficked crossroads that humans use.
After it is decided who it is that is gonna accompany Willow on this quest to deliver the child to the cross roads and in to the hands of a waiting human, they set off on their journey.
Now when they get to the cross roads they meet a man by the name of Madmartigan (Kilmer) a man that at that point looks like nothing more then a dirty vagabound who had been placed in a cage at the cross roads (Little did Willow know…)
Ultimately after an awkward first meeting, Willow and his remaining friend Meegosh (Played by David Steinberg.) Willow decides to turn over the child to Madmartigan’s charge.
While on his way home though, Willow is attacked by a clan of even smaller people called ‘Brownies.’ These are the people who stole the child from Madmartigan. After the attack Willow is taken to the Brownie’s fairy queen, Cherlindrea (Played by Maria Holvoe) who relates the story of the baby that Willow has been looking after, Elora Danan, the prophesied child who will end the reign of the evil queen Bavmorda, and that she has chosen Willow as her guardian during this time!
Now that the real adventure has begun and armed with a wand that Cherlindrea gave to Willow. Willow and Elora Danan begin their adventure fresh! During their quest they come to a human village that does not look to kindly upon Nelwyns. It is during this time that Willow and Elora Danan come across the unscrupulous scoundrel Madmartigan who at this point is being dressed up by a woman before her husband catches them…
After fighting off the husband and eventually having a kick ass fight scene with the first of Bavmorda’s many soldiers! Madmartigan who turns out to be an excellent swordsman decides to help get both Willow and Elora Danan to the Sorceress Fin Raezel (Played by Patricia Hayes.)
When they get there and discover that there is nothing that Fin Raezel can do to help, after being turned in to an animal. Madmartigan along with the groups 2 Brownie companions (played by Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton) decides to follow Willow and Elora Danan on the rest of their quest fulfilling the prophecy of Elora Danan before the evil Queen Bavmorda can repudiate the prophecy and keep her rule forever!
I first discovered this film when I was young and my Dad who had a Laser Disc player at the time (That’s right folks, we are talking nearly 20 years ago.) During this time one of the things that both me and my sister liked to do when we went to go and visit my Dad was to get laser discs from the library and watch them…
Willow happened to be one of these movies. Since I watched it at my Dad’s house I would go on to see it many times in many formats. One of them, and the one I am happy to say I have seen it in and now own is DVD. I guess what I am trying to say is that this movie has been a favorite of mine for quite some time! and I have to say that this is a truly awesome b movie!
Now what I think makes this a true awesome b movie and what I do like about all this, is quite a few things. A few of these are:
1. The cinematography in the movie is fan-freaking-tastic. I mean the scenery in the movie at times can be utterly breathtaking.
2. The special effects in this movie in my opinion are better then what a lot of people are doing even today! What do I mean by this, you might be asking… Well that simple. Where as the CGI special effects that people are doing these days are very sleek and smooth and can make a car exploding look cool; some of these movies tend to over use the CGI aspects of special effects and can also make them look cheap and un-realistic. But since Willow is made during a time when special effects were not so heavily reliant on CGI. They look more organic, and special… And in a case like Willow real!
3. Also I gotta say that the actors that played in the piece were utterly dare I say it… Awesome! I mean you can believe Val Kilmer as a drunken swordsman! You can believe Joanne Whalley (Who unfortunately was not mentioned up in the story line) as the Princess of the evil queen who is basically good, but does evil because that’s all she has ever known. And Warwick Davis! Man that guy is a power house! To understand what I am about to say, let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I have seen the Leprechaun series for which Mr. Davis stars in as the evil Leprechaun. With that said, before I saw Willow, I had seen the first Leprechaun (1993), I thought he was great in it as the evil leprechaun. Now not long after I saw that I went on to see Willow and can I say it… DAMN! I was really impressed with his talent and his versatility in playing both the evil leprechaun and playing Willow!
But enough of Leprechaun, as far as Warwick Davis’s performance as Willow goes, I gotta say that he hit his mark every time during the moments when he was funny. The moments when he was serious as well as those moments of desperation, when he is in a do or die situation and he still has to protect Elora Danan, still keeps me on the edge of my seat!
I also thought that you might find this interesting. When I was looking up stuff about Willow, Star Wars Alumni Kenny Baker who played R2D2 in the Star Wars franchise. Had an uncredited cameo as one of the band member’s in Willow’s Village during the festival scene!
All in all I really gotta say that if your looking for a great fantasy film to watch with the family or by yourself, then I highly recommend checking out Willow, I really think you might like it!