I saw a film!
A rollicking para-comic, fantasy and adventure story with not just hues of Lord of the Rings if the story sort of never left the shire. It’s perhaps, not really fair to suggest the tale borrows heavily from a LOTR playbook, as that basically is *the playbook* for this sort of sword and sorcery extravaganza. My only complaint is that it takes too long to get that sword and sorcery aspect of the tale rolling. Val Kilmer is excellent as the down on his luck, not always entirely ethical “Strider” character, pulling faces, and doing Monty Pythonesque lady’s voices, while swinging a sword and gamely operating to protect the little folk and their prized special baby, whose face is often inserted into sequences leaving one to wonder about the possibility of someone adding dialog for her.
At one of the major castle sieges our hero, little person Willow, played by the excellent Warwick Davis, manages to cast a spell and transform a furry troll type of person into a massive claymation double-headed dragon, with a serious shoe-bill look. It’s one of the best movie dragons ever. Entirely original to view, and while deadly on the fighters, both chewing them up and puffing flames at them, manages to really spill some muppet character. A winner no doubt spoiled today by the fetishization of CGI.
I have to say that it took me three sittings to get through this sprawling showcase, which had a talking goat transforming into a peacenik hippy witch, and loads of tiny brownies causing even more slapstick kookiness than Kilmer. And I did lose track, a bit, of all the connected characters. But that’s my fault, I’m an often distracted movie-viewer. Willow is downright excellent for everyone. Even if I complain that it was a bit slow to get going. Davis even pulls off a fun conventional magic stunt in the end to undo the mad evil sorceress, and it is perhaps the most realistic part of the film.
Reeling in the romantic gaze is British actress Joanne Whalley who is so petite and cute that you immediately forgive her her evil role as lead black warrior officer, as she immediately rolls her huge brown eyes over for Val’s infatuation and his subsequent heroism. So much for devotion to her evil sorceress mom. When in the history of the world has it been a good idea to place all your expectations of power and control in the actions of your children? Looking back after thirty plus years of not having seen this film, and having been a young twenty-something unimpressed with it, I’m a bit shocked. I was a hard guy to please. I should at least have found myself adoring the lovely Joanne, but I suppose she didn’t end up in any damsel-in-distress moments that usually really get my blood flowing, and instead we were forced to imagine the all important baby as our beauty in need of rescue. It’s a bit of a hard sell for a young man hungry for monsters and beauties.
This is running free on Prime USA and while a bit over two hours, well worth your time, especially if you’ve got some kiddos you can introduce to some DND.