George Lucas, Ron Howard, Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Kevin Pollack…
We’re talking 80s film at its finest here. The year was 1988 and the movie Willow was earning two Oscar nods for visual effects and sound editing, and a pair of Raspberry Awards nominations for worst screenplay and supporting actor. Although it received a hum-drum box office reception, the movie is now a bit of an 80s cult classic in its own right.
Willow is a story about dwarves, humans, trolls, sorcery, swordsplay, fighting, and romance. A young dwarf sacrifices his own livelihood and well-being to transport an object of great prophetic value– in this instance a human infant–to the final showdown of good and evil. Think “LOTR” meets “Narnia”. (For a little movie trivia, Warwick Davis turns in another fine performance in the second Narnia film.) Along the way, our hero picks up a strange band of companions and stubbornly perseveres to develop the magical skills he has long desired to attain.
There are so many different sub-plots and backstories dancing at the edges of the movie that for once I found myself in the unusual position of wishing to read the book after I left the theater. Of course, there was no original book, as the screenplay was the brain-child of George Lucas.
Nowadays the theater is in my father’s basement with an eight-foot by ten-foot projection screen and all the free popcorn I can eat. But for my children who are learning to love this movie the way their parents once did, the magic is no less enthralling.
Fans of Labyrinth and Legend should be sure to give Willow a chance. Despite an occasionally awkward performance by Val Kilmer (for whom the script offered no help), and some funny moments where the plasticity of the stand-in baby is too obvious to be ignored, the movie draws you in and moves you happily along to its own satisfying conclusion.
Some objections around the date of Willow‘s release included fears that the movie is too dark for children. Although we chose to fast-forward through the beginning scenes for our youngest kids, today’s parents have a different standard than what existed in the late 1980s. Most modern parents would find little to concern them, although every family is different and previewing is something I strongly recommend.
Willow has been released on DVD. Copies are available for purchase from online retailers such as Walmart.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and DVDPlanet.com.
As with most of our films, we waited for a gently used copy to become available through SwapaDVD.com.
Wherever you get your own copy, even if you first decide to rent it through Netflix, be sure to purchase it soon. Maybe if we buy enough, we can persuade someone to do a follow-up. Now wouldn’t that be lovely?