So here’s the deal about today’s movie. I never saw this in theaters and honestly, had no real desire to go see it. However, I do remember an arcade game for the movie and playing it at Putt-Putt every now and then. Then there was the Nintendo game, which was a little fun but also had some annoying moments to it, and I finally decided to go ahead and rent it one day. Yes, video games compelled me to watch a movie, instead of the other way around. So let’s have a little fun and go back with today’s movie, Willow.
The plot: When a young baby girl with a special birthmark is born in a dungeon, the mother pleads with the midwife to smuggle her baby out of there or else the sorceress Queen Bavmorda will kill her. The midwife agrees and smuggles the baby out of there in a basket of laundry but when Bavmorda learns the baby is missing, she kills the mother and then sends her hounds after the midwife. Hearing the hounds approaching, the midwife places the baby in a makeshift raft and sends it floating downstream on the river before the hounds attack and kill her. The raft ends up coming to a stop near the home of Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn (dwarf), who doesn’t want to have anything to do with the baby but his wife Kaiya and children fall in love with the baby and take it back to their home and after being forced to hold the baby, Willow reluctantly agrees to let Kaiya take care of the baby, growing to care for it as well. The next day, Willow and the kids head to the town festival, where Willow hopes to become the new apprentice to the High Aldwin. When the High Aldwin appears, he asks the three contenders to choose which finger has the power to rule the world. The first two choose incorrectly and Willow hesitates before making his choice but he is also wrong. Suddenly, a Nockmarr hound appears in the village, terrorizing everyone before it attacks an empty cradle. Nelwyn warriors manage to kill the hound and when they figure that it was after a baby, Willow rushes home to check on Kaiya and the baby. Reluctantly, Willow takes the baby to the high council, where the High Aldwin determines that the baby has a prophecy about her and must be taken to the Daikini crossroads. After speaking quietly with Willow, the High Aldwin says that Willow is in charge of the baby’s care, then asks for volunteers to go with him. Willow’s friend Meegosh volunteers as does Vohnkar, the village’s strongest warrior, but Burglekutt, a powerful villager that constantly bullies and belittles Willow, refuses to allow Vohnkar to go, until the High Aldwin says that Burglekutt must also go. The Nelwyn’s set out for the crossroads, avoiding Nockmarr soldiers when they learn that they are searching for them. The eventually reach the crossroads but see no sigsn of any Daikinis, except for Madmartigan, who is locked inside a prisoner’s cage. Burglekutt wants to free Madmartigan and give the baby to him but Willow refuses so Burglekutt leaves Willow and Meegosh there on their own while he leads the other Nelwyns back to their village. When an army approaches, led by Airk Thaughbaer, Willow tries to get them to take the baby but Airk refuses, as they are on their way to battle Bavmorda’s forces. Madmartigan, who is a former comrade in arms with Airk, tries to convince him to release him and let him help fight but Airk refuses, saying he is still loyal to his city while Madmartigan is loyal to nobody but himself. After Airk’s army leaves, Meegosh frees Madmartigan and Willow reluctantly hands the baby over to him. As Meegosh and Willow make their way home, they see the baby being carried off by some brownies and when they give chase, they end up captured. The brownies take Willow and Meegosh to the Fairy Queen Cherlindrea, who tells Willow that the baby’s name is Elora Danan and she is the future queen of Tir Asleen. She tasks Willow with taking the baby to see Fin Raziel, a sorceress, and help keep Elora safe so she can fulfill her destiny of bringing Bavmorda down. Willow sends Meegosh back to their village and then heads off, with two Brownies, Franjean and Rool, to help guide him to Fin Razael. The eventually stop at an inn, where they run into Madmartigan, who is dressing as a woman to avoid being attacked by a jealous husband, Lug. Suddenly, Sorsha, Bavmorda’s daughter, and Nockmarr troops arrive at the inn and begin searching the babies there. When Sorsha goes to examine Elora, Madmartigan shoves her away but she quickly reveals that he is a man. Discovering Madmartigan is a man, Lug attacks the soldiers in an attempt to get to Madmartigan and Madmartigan quickly escape on a horse and cart, with Willow jumping on board as well. Sorsha’s soldiers chase after them and Madmartigan fends them off before they are able to hide from the rest of Sorsha’s forces. As Madmartigan leaves, Willow follows after him to try and convince him to help them get safely to the lake and Madmartigan, having grown fond of Elora, agrees. They reach the lake and Willow finds a boat to take him and Elora to the island where Razael has been exiled and Madmartigan says his goodbyes to them. When Willow reaches the island, he finds that Razael has been changed into possum by Bavmorda’s spells and she asks Willow to help change her back. When they return to the mainland, they find that Madmartigan has been captured and forced to show Sorsha and her men where Willow is. Willow and Razael are captured and taken with Madmartigan to rendezvous with Kael’s troops on a snow covered mountain. As night falls, Razael tells Willow to try and change her back to human but he only manages to change her into a raven. Franjean and Rool show up and work on freeing Willow and Madmartigan and when Madmartigan tries to do it himself, Franjean hits Madmaritgan with the Dust of Broken Hearts. They eventually free Willow and Madmartigan and they go to find Elora but when Madmartigan goes to try and grab Elora from Sorsha’s tent, he ends up falling in love with Sorsha. Madmartigan approaches her, reciting poetry when she threatens him with a knife. Kael captures Willow as he tries to escape with Elora and Sorsha believes Madmartigan was simply saying things to distract her but Madmartigan grabs a sword and cuts the tent support, then kisses Sorsha before the tent collapses. Willow and Madmartigan escape the tent and then use a shield to slide down the mountain, reaching a village near the base. As Kael and his troops approach, they are given shelter by one of the villagers only to discover Airk and some of his men hiding there, as the most of his army was slaughtered by Bavmorda’s troops. As Kael takes some of his men to search elsewhere, Sorsha searches the house and discovers the hidden basement only to be captured by Madmartigan, who forces her troops to back off. Willow and Madmartigan take Sorsha with them as they head to Tir Asleen, and Airk and his men kill the rest of Sorsha’s forces. During the journey, Madmartigan and Sorsha discuss what happened the night before and Sorsha is angered when Madmartigan says it was merely fairy dust that made him say those things. She struggles with him and manages to get away and Madmartigan tries chasing after and recapturing her but as Razael warns that Kael is coming, he is forced to keep going with Willow, though he does look back at her while she does the same before they go their separate ways. Willow and Madmartigan reach Tir Asleen only to discover that the castle’s residents have been cursed by Bavmorda and turned to stone, while the castle itself has become infested with trolls. Madmartigan is upset at first but then quickly works on arming himself and setting up some defenses to fend off Kael and his men. As Willow goes to hide Elora, he is attacked by a troll and uses the wand on it, which cause it to change form and Willow quickly kicks it into the water below the tower. Kael’s forces break into the castle and Madmartigan starts to attack them when they suddenly turn and leave the castle, and Madmartigan turns to find the troll had changed into an Eborsisk, a giant, two-headed, fire breathing creature, and he quickly runs as well but then heads back inside when Kael tries to have his men attack him. As Madmartigan starts fending off Kael’s men, Sorsha watches him and starts to realize she is attracted to him. Willow comes under attack by some more trolls and he manages to deal with one, and Madmartigan helps him with the second one. Madmartigan then hands Willow a short sword before jumping onto one of the Eborsisk’s heads and plunging his sword into it’s neck. As he recovers on the ground, Sorsha approaches and helps him to his feet, then kisses him while the Eborsisk’s head explodes, killing the creature. Some of Kael’s men discover Elore but Willow manages to kill them, only to be knocked down by Kael. As Airk and the rest of his army arrive, Kael rides off with Elora, noting that Sorsha is fighting alongside Madmartigan as he does, and takes Elora to Nockmarr castle. After checking on Willow, Madmartigan, Sorsha, and Willow chase after him, joined by Airk and his men, and they prepare to lay siege to the castle. Kael presents Elora to Bavmorda and tells her of Sorsha’s betrayal and Bavmorda angrily tells her wisemen to prepare for the ritual. She approaches the castle ramparts and looks down on the army and starts laughing. Razael, who had been turned into a goat by Willow in Tir Asleen, quickly shoves Willow into a tent and tells him to use the wand to cast a protection spell on him. When Madmartigan calls out that they want Elora, Bavmorda tells them they aren’t an army but merely pigs, changing the men into pigs, including Franjean and Rool. When Sorsha begs her mother to stop, Bavmorda changes her into a pig as well. When Willow looks out the tent and sees everyone turned into pigs, he begins to despair but Razael says there is still hope and tells him to try and turn her back to human again. Willow tries, changing her into several animals before finally changing her back to human and after recovering for a bit, Razael tells Willow to start letting the pigs into the tent so she can change them back. As Bavmorda and her council begin the ritual to banish Elora’s spirit, Willow, Madmartigan, Sorsha, Razael, and Airk discuss their plans to try and rescue Elora and Willow comes up with a plan. In the morning, Willow and Razael approach the castle and call out for them to surrender Elora. Kael laughs at the request and sends his men to kill them but as the men approach, Willow gives a signal and Madmartigan and the other soldiers, who had been hiding in holes dug inside the tents, burst from hiding and charge the soldiers and the castle. As the fighting commences, Sorsha leads Willow and Razael up to Bavmorda’s tower to rescue Elora. Bavmorda sends her council to stop them but Sorsha easily deals with them but when she goes to grab Elora, Bavmorda uses her magic to send her flying towards a spiked gate. Razael stops Sorsha and Bavmorda drops her, then turns her attention to Razael and the two sorceresses begin battling. During the fight, Willow enters the room and attempts to grab Elora but a stray blast from Cherlindrea’s wand causes a table to come to life and attack him. Outside, the battle continues raging and Kael fights with Airk, stabbing him. Madmartigan sees his friend fall and goes after Kael eventually managing to impale him with his own sword. Back in the tower, Bavmorda manages to overpower Razael and then stops Willow from escaping with Elora. As Bavmorda demands Willow place Elora on the sacrificial altar, Willow refuses and uses his “disappearing pig” trick to make it seem like he sent Elora to another dimension. An enraged Bavmorda goes to attack Willow but accidentally knocks over the blood on the altar and a bolt of lighting strikes Cherlindrea’s wand, which she was holding, completing the ritual and banishing Bavmorda’s spirit instead of Elora’s. In the restored Tir Asleen, Razael gives Willow a spellbook, telling him he is on his way to becoming a great sorcerer, and Madmartigan and Sorsha, who are staying there as Elora’s guardians, say their goodbyes to him as he heads home. When he returns to his village, he is greeted by a cheering crowd and watch in amazement as he changes an apple into a bird, which poops on Burglekutt, before Willow sees Kaiya and his family and rushes forward to embrace them.
Willow met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Good production value and decent special effects, but the story is too insipid and slowly paced.” The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $57.3 million off of a $35 million budget. With the box office receipts less than expected, George Lucas chose to continue Willow’s story in books rather than movie sequels, and co-wrote them with Chris Claremont, of X-Men comics fame. Recently, Director Ron Howard and Val Kilmer have both stated that there have been talks of a Willow sequel being considered.
This is still a pretty entertaining movie to watch, though it does have it’s flaws. The acting was pretty good for most of the characters. I thought Warwick Davis (Willow) and Val Kilmer (Madmartigan) had some great chemistry on the screen. I also liked Jean Marsh (Bavmorda) and Patricia Hayes (Razael) and thought that Kevin Pollak (Rool) and Rick Overton (Franjean) were absolutely hilarious but Joanne Whalley (Sorsha) was kind of bland while Pat Roach (Kael) was honestly to over the top, with his almost always yelling out commands. The story was really good and definitely showcased George Lucas’s ability for creating a unique universe. The special effects were pretty good for the most part except for one or two instances. Mainly the scene where the trolls were crawling along the buildings, as the looked really fake, and the scene where the table came to life and attacked Willow, as it just didn’t seem to synch perfectly with the background. Those aside, this is still a fun fantasy movie that is worth giving another watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5