Willow Ep 1 Review: Warwick Davis' fantasy series promises ample magic and mayhem in a steady start

Willow starring Warwick Davis, Joanne Whalley, Ruby Cruz and more re-introduces us to the world of Tir Asleen. Read Pinkvilla's review of the first episode below.

Published on Nov 30, 2022   |  04:08 PM IST  |  145K
Willow
Willow releases its first two episodes on November 30.

Willow

Cast:  Warwick Davis, Joanne Whalley, Ruby Cruz 

Creator: Jonathan Kasdan

Language: English

Streaming Platform: Disney+ Hotstar

Synopsis:

Disney's new fantasy series, Willow is a sequel to the studio's 1988 fantasy movie by the same name. Picking up after the events of the film, which saw Willow (Warwick Davis) save Elora Danan, a baby with a rune birthmark who is prophesied to take down the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda of Nockmaar, and become the next princess of Tir Asleen, the film now follows the story of a grown-up Elora who has been brought up with a hidden identity. The main storyline also follows, Sorsha's (Joanne Whalley) kids, Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Airk (Dempsey Bryk) who must now take the responsibility of protecting the realm as the return of the dark forces looms. 

On the night of Kit and Graydon's (Tony Revolori) engagement celebration evil seeps back into the Mother World once again and Airk is taken hostage by them. An unlikely group of heroes from Tir Asleen then set off on a journey far beyond their home to restore the forces of good and rescue Airk but first they must seek someone out without whom the task would be impossible to undertake and thus marks the return of Willow (Davis). 

Opinion:

One of the biggest concerns while beginning a new show, particularly if they hail from the Marvel or Star Wars universe is that they have to be carefully crafted in a way to connect to the larger stories out there. In the case of Willow, despite it being a product of an already existing fantasy story, there's no pressure to hunt for easter eggs or other elements as the show takes a fresh start by merely building on the background that was provided by the film in terms of the mythology and folklore and it works well in its favour. With Willow creator, Jonathan Kasdan brings back Harry Potter star Warwick Davis' charming sorcerer back but adds new layers to the fantasy world compared to the film. 

The first episode begins with a clear background of all that happened in the film before it connects us back to the story ahead. While the 1988 film may not have seen much success, it's clear that there is no better time than now to explore the fantasy genre given the kind of viewer interest it has. In the case of the show, the challenge is to get the tone right and while the first episode of the series kicks off more on the lines of a Disney rom-com, it's certain from the story ahead that magical action is soon to follow in the episodes ahead. The show scores on inclusivity quotient and it's a delight to the queer romance between  Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Jade (Erin Kellyman).  The first episode does pack a lot as it not only tells us the backstory of Willow and the Princess of Tir Asleen, Elora Danan but also takes us through the first major action scene to eventually jumping on the re-introduction of Willow (Davis), while also dropping a major bombshell at the end of the episode. 

Despite the story's predictable feel and overall mediocre magical charm, it's probably the cast of the show that manages to leave us impressed. Not only is it a delight to see Warwick Davis return as the sorcerer, but it's also equally amazing to see Joanne Whalley return as Sorsha. In terms of the new cast members, Amar Chadha-Patel impresses as the wise-cracking mercenary Boorman whereas Erin Kellyman and Ellie Bamber as the chambermaid also do a good job.

Plus Points:

The thing about Willow that impressed me the most was the fact that the show doesn't seem to be in a rush to impress or please. It does not have to indulge in any kind of fan service and possibly that's why the show's lighter approach seems right. There's a charm in how Kasdan presents the world of Tir Asleen and since you don't enter the show with a lot of expectations, it does pleasantly surprise you in several moments. The production design on the show is also impressive and the action choreography as seen in the first episode too doesn't disappoint. 

Minus Points:

To build a fantasy series that can be lapped up by viewers, it must contain a certain level of intricacy or at least that's what we have come to believe after shows like Game of Thrones and more built little by little the fictional worlds that so easily seeped into the vocabulary of regular folk. For Willow, that's a challenge that it doesn't overcome as it doesn't instantly drag us into its world convincingly enough with the first episode to eventually form a commitment for the rest of the season. The show's pilot moves too quickly across directions with little time being given for the characters to flesh out properly. 

Highlights:

  • Performances by  Erin Kellyman, Amar Chadha-Patel
  • Warwick  Davis' charming return as Willow
  • Production design of the show

Conclusion:

Willow takes off to a steady start in its first episode as it combines all the elements from its original film of romance, magic and action together. The show doesn't set out with an episode that will blow your mind but given the impressive cast, it looks like the journey ahead for the first season won't be a disappointing one. 

ALSO READ: All 8 Harry Potter movies ranked from best to worst

About The Author

A writer with 6 years of experience, addicted to coffee, films, and sarcasm. Currently exploring all things Hollywood...

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Credits: Pinkvilla, Disney+ Hotstar

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