Full disclosure – I am unapologetically a huge fan of the original ‘Willow’ movie. The 1988 Fantasy adventure was a defining film in my early cinematic education. I loved the invention, the thrills and the flowing jet black locks of Val Kilmer. When I learned there would be a Disney Plus series expanding the mythology I was hooked. The teasers and trailers promised much, original star Warwick Davis was back and the supporting cast was filled out by an exciting ensemble of up and coming young actors. So…it was with bubbling anticipation that I sat down, pointed my remote and journeyed back to the Kingdom of Tir Asleen.
Sigh. Willow (2022) is a confounding mess of a series which I was willing myself to enjoy. Some elements worked. The cast of eclectic characters were all distinct, likeable and had individual moments to shine. It was great to initially reunite with legacy characters and revisit locations from the original movie. There is clearly care put into costuming, set design and world building on display. Unfortunately that’s where the positives end, as none of the aforementioned bright moments can save this sequel TV series from a truly awful narrative.
The scripting is largely terrible, feeling like an unedited first draft. The editing itself is choppy and often misses large chunks of action as the show rushes to the next scene. Several occasions I was left scratching my head as to what was going on, where a character had disappeared to and why they were doing what they were doing. The overarching quest – a must for any Fantasy epic- is murky (a massive fail for any Fantasy epic). Character motivations change from chapter to chapter. Worst of all the series just doesn’t capture the magic, wonder and swashbuckling adventure of the original. Yes, the inevitable absence of Val Kilmer hangs heavy throughout proceedings (a hole clearly recognised as Christian Slater cameos as a proxy Madmartigan for an episode) but no other character steps up to fill that charisma vacuum.
Verdict :- I was looking forward to a Swords and Shield epic without the family machinations, oppressive darkness and frequent tragedy of recent shows but the series ultimately took me from a Wil-high to a Wil-Low.