Willow Review: Warwick Davis, Ellie Bamber, Ruby Cruz, Amar Chadha-Patel bring a long-awaited sequel with sorcery, action and wit but a convoluted narrative

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Show: Willow

Cast: Warwick Davis, Ruby Cruz, Erin Kellyman, Ellie Bamber, Tony Revolori, Amar Chadha-Patel, Dempsey Bryk, Joanne Whalley, Kevin Pollack, Ricke Overton, Ralph Ineson, Annabelle Davis

Creator: Jonathan Kasdan

OTT: Disney+

Rating: 3 Moons

The latest offering from Disney+ is an eight episode fantasy series titled Willow that is a so-called sequel to the 1988 film of the same name. The series continues the story forward from Ron Howard’s classic film. It’s been 35 years since our unlikely hero, Willow (Warwick Davis) set off to save a prophesied child called Elora Danan who is destined to unite the realms, destroy the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda of Nockmaar and banish the forces of darkness.

Now, in a magical world where brownies, sorcerers and trolls abound, Willow’s adventure continues as protector and teacher to Elora Danan, the baby prophesied to one day overthrow Queen Bavmorda. Willow is now a wiser magician, a bit weaker and relies a bit on other heroes as they join forces to save the prince, twin brother of Princess Kit and son of Sorsha. The unlikely group of heroes must face their own demons and come together as a cohesive team as they set off on a dangerous quest to places far beyond their home.

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 Willow features a diverse international cast led by Warwick Davis as Willow Ufgood, a Nelwyn (dwarf) farmer and sorcerer. Ruby Cruz as Kit, a princess and daughter of Sorsha who sets in motion a quest to rescue her twin brother Airk (played by Dempsey Bryk), Erin Kellyman as Jade, a knight-in-training and Kit’s best friend who joins the quest, Ellie Bamber plays Dove, a kitchen maid who joins the quest as she is in love with Airk, Tony Revolori as Graydon, a young scholar, Amar Chadha-Patel as Boorman, a thief and swordsman who is promised freedom if he joins the quest as the group’s muscleman stars as new cast members in Willow. Joanne Whalley reprises her role of Sorsha, an accomplished warrior and daughter if the defeated Queen Bavmorda and Kevin Pollack is back as Rool and Rick Overton as Franjean. Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan does not return in Willow but he stays very much in spirit in the series through back stories and tales.

The original film centered around a baby, Elora Danan, a prophesied princess who is fated to defeat evil and become the empress of the land saving everyone from the darkness but now after a couple of decades later, the baby girl has not exactly become the powerful empress/magician but in actuality missing. The quest that kicks off the show is not about finding Elora at all but instead focuses on finding and rescuing the kidnapped prince Airk. So where and who is Elora and what happened to her; to find that you’ll have to watch the series because we aren’t giving out any spoilers.

Warwick Davis as Willow is back at the helm and leads the series with his commendable performance. He is snarky, magnanimous and wise and is a delight to watch on the scene, especially with a lot of contemporary humour. He is not in the same league as Gandalf the Grey and has doubts over his own magic but brings out the subtle pitfalls of being human perfectly even though he is supposed to be the greatest magician. Amar Chadha-Patel is a delight to watch on screen. Even though he towers over everybody and is supposed to be the muscleman in the series, he brings a lot of comic relief to the project.

Ruby Cruz as Kit portrays her vulnerability as well as resilience perfectly. Erin Kellyman as the knight-in-training lends credible support and the action sequences performed by her and Ruby deserve admiration. Tony Revolori also impresses with his act. Ellie Bamber does an impeccable job as Dove the kitchen maid who joins the quest on pure whim, yet proves to be the biggest ally.

Jonathan Kasdan's series brings a lot of action, sorcery, wit and commendable VFX but what irks is the convoluted narrative. It is winding and not gripping enough for a popular film's sequel. Nevertheless, it will get its own fans and the makers have managed to brew a worthy series. 

Willow is an entertaining watch and even though if you’re unversed with the previous film, it provides enough flashbacks to get you your facts right. However, it does seem a bit winding and people who are not into fantasy series may not like it. Also it gets bogged down by its own prequel and the to-and-fro makes attention waver. It becomes a bit difficult to pin down the drama to a certain realm as the fantasy series often incorporates contemporary humour. Nevertheless, Willow will surely appeal to the audience.

PeepingMoon.com gives Willow 3 Moons.

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