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  • Writer's pictureMatthieu Côté

WILLOW Episode 1-4 Review: Warwick Davis is back!

Over the years, Ron Howard's Willow (1988) has surprisingly become a cult classic with a strong fanbase, I personally didn't grew up with it because I was never a big fan of the fantasy genre, but I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago and I liked it. No need to say that Warwick Davis is a national treasure, that movie has so much heart added to George Lucas' mythology, it's a delightful adventure. Those 1980's fantasy flicks had a sense of wonder that holds up decades later. The reason I watched it is because Disney is releasing a new series with Warwick Davis returning as Willow, and I was able to see the first 4 episodes.

Synopsis: "Twenty years after vanquishing the wicked queen Bavmorda, the sorcerer Willow Ufgood leads a group of misfits on a dangerous rescue mission into the unknown.

The series will likely please die-hard fans of the original film because I mostly enjoyed what I was able to see, it takes some time to get used to the new characters & the modern look of the series but they don't waste too long getting the adventure started with some fun action, comedy & heart. I love Warwick Davis and it’s great that they bring him back in this role, he hasn’t lost his touch. If you fell in love with Willow during your childhood, you are going to be more than happy to see that he's just as inspiring and courageous as he was back then. I think the pacing is on-point so far, the world was fresh in my head after watching Willow the night before but they use the mythology very well to build the foundation for this season.

Not all the characters work for me but the spirit of the original film is there and that's going to be sufficient for people who've been waiting a long time to see Willow back on the screen. I feel confident to say that people who are not really familiar with Willow can jump into the series without seeing the original film, even though I recommend watching the original film before because the series act very much like a sequel to 1988's Willow. The people at ILM are having a blast with visual effects building this world with new goggles and some of the new creatures really benefit from the technological advancement.

I’m not going to reveal details about the story but certain characters introduced felt a little bit too CW for me, thankfully once Warwick Davis makes his apparition, the story picks up. He’s not the only one to give a good performance, Amar Chadha-Patel as Boorman might become a new fan favorite because he generates some decent laughs and he’s a warrior with good heart. The first episode lays the ground for the new players and there’s a solid action sequence with impressive make-up and costumes in the middle that sold me on the potential of this series: it can be equally dark and whimsical.

James Horner was the composer for the 1988 film and this time it's James Newton Howard behind the score, so there's nothing to worry about here. The first episode ends with a modern song during the end credits and it's a trend they keep for every episode. I wasn't sure I was feeling it but as it goes along I think the song choices get better. I do wish they would use the classic Willow theme a bit more, I don't have much complaint there and I think fans will appreciate the return of some familiar tunes.

If you're not exactly sold after the first episode, I feel like it gets better as it goes along because you get attached to everyone and they actually took the time to write an engaging story. Episode 4 was the last one I saw before writing this review, it might be my favorite episode so far. There are some nice surprises in there for fans of Willow and you can expect the same balance of emotions you found in the 1988 film. I didn't love everything about the series but I know I'm going to stick until the end of this season to see where this is all going. I was quite surprised because this is not usually my type of series, but Warwick Davis is the big draw here. We're back into his element!

Initial Score: 7/10

Willow starts streaming on Disney+ on November 30th.

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