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Is Willow on Disney+ worth watching?

Is Willow on Disney+ worth watching?

Warwick Davis returns to the title role for the new Willow TV series.  (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Warwick Davis returns to the title role for the new Willow TV series. (Lucasfilm/Disney)

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, it was easy to get carried away with the excitement and fear of more Star Wars movies and overlook all the other things that came with the deal. One of the treasures in Lucas’ content war chest, Willow returned to Disney+ as a series on November 30.

Amid all the talk of lightsabers and bullwhips, perhaps the transaction’s most valuable asset was the concept of nostalgia itself. For many, it’s this rose-tinted, ethereal concept that has since come to define Willow, the 1988 fantasy epic that’s since been happily baked into many movie fans’ psyches thanks to years spent re-watching violent VHS tapes.

Read more: Warwick Davis says Willow inspires people with disabilities

As the first original story Lucas wrote after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and his first big screen project since Return of the Jedi, there was a lot riding on this big movie with a small hero. In it, we met Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a wannabe sorcerer who finds a human baby named Elora Danan who is destined to become the ruler of his mystical kingdom.

Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis,

Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Warwick Davis in Willow. (MGM/Alamy)

With an ancient witch also after the child, it’s up to this unlikely hero and his rogue new frenemy Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) to stop the evil crown and ensure both the child’s safety and a happily ever after.

Directed by Ron Howard, it was a moderate hit. But despite emerging as a defining moment of representation for people with dwarfism and a giant leap forward for Industrial Light and Magic’s CGI wizards, the film was far from a Star Wars level.

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Still, as the years went by, the love for Willow and his James Horner-penned hero theme grew along with levels of nostalgia surrounding the film itself. When we suddenly find ourselves back in this world more than three decades later, this same feeling of love emerges as a kind of pop culture powerhouse used to drive one of the funniest Disey+ series yet, especially after the high-flying thrills of Andor .

Watch a trailer for Willow

Picking up chronologically after Howard’s film, series developer and writer behind Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jonathan Kasdan, wastes no time setting the stage for a new mission. Like any good sequel, we first meet a new cast that will drive the story forward.

There is Kit (Ruby Cruz), princess and daughter of the original movie character Sorcha (Joanne Whalley), who is to marry the book-loving prince Gradyon (Tony Revolori), but who seems much more interested in her sparring partner Jade (Erin Kellyman). But when her brother Prince Airk (Dempsey Byrk) is suddenly kidnapped by evil forces, Willow is resurrected and warns of the return of an ancient evil that must be stopped.

Read more: How Andor sets up the second season

From here, the powers-that-be summon a Fellowship-style squad of Kit, Jade, Gradyon, lowly kitchen maid Dove (Ellie Bamber) and a fast-talking warrior and ex-criminal named Boorman (Amer Chadha-Patel) and send them outside the magical barrier who protect their citadel to save Airk and also their world.

(L-R): Graydon (Tony Revolori), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), Dove (Ellie Bamber), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) and Jade (Erin Kellyman) exclusively in Lucasfilm's WILLOW on Disney+.  ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd.  & TM.  All rights reserved.

(L-R): Graydon (Tony Revolori), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), Dove (Ellie Bamber), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) and Jade (Erin Kellyman) in Willow. (Disney)

Many questions and mysteries remain—like the location of the now-grown Elora Danan and the location of Kilmer’s Madmartigan—but as their quest unfolds, Kasdan and his cast have fun delivering answers and fan service in equal measure, while combining the the wholesome mood of Howard’s film with some cheeky humor and awe-inspiring, old-fashioned practical effects.

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While it’s hard not to wonder why Kasdan’s series wasn’t just a movie (perhaps Willow’s relative cult status is to blame for this safer bet, serialized sequel), and some comedic styles feel a little more sedate than others, the film’s split into- chunk’s vibe makes it hard not to get swept up in the speed of this colorful fantasy adventure.

(L-R): Graydon (Tony Revolori), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Jade (Erin Kellyman), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) and Dove (Ellie Bamber) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+.  ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd.  & TM.  All rights reserved.

(L-R): Graydon (Tony Revolori), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Jade (Erin Kellyman), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) and Dove (Ellie Bamber) in Willow. (Disney)

It’s undeniably fun to see Davis back in his old guise – this time as a seen-some-s*** wizard with dry comic wit – but thankfully it’s just as fun to spend time with the show’s newcomers, with Chadha- Patel’s Bad- Good boy Boorman provides much of the show’s lasting laughs.

Read more: Willow cast praise the diversity of the show

Throw some great guest spots into the mix, and Willow emerges as a nice, light follow-up for all those who fancy more sword-and-shield adventure after beating House of the Dragon – albeit with far fewer dragons, profanity and inbred conditions.

Plus, it’s coming just in time for the Christmas holidays, making it the perfect nostalgia trip to help you rip off the box of Quality Street while you’re swept away on a good old Lucas fantasy. Magic!

Willow will stream on Disney+ from November 30 for two episodes, with new episodes arriving weekly.

Watch: Warwick Davis talks to Yahoo about returning as Willow

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