The Next Great Adventure

I was listening to the the Yeah Its That Bad podcast the other day and they tackled one of my favorites from my childhood – Willow.  I remember Willow fondly and as I listened to their podcast I disagreed with a lot of their dislikes in the movie.  I decided to have my own go at the film for this weeks Film Friday!

Plot Synopsis (THERE BE SPOILERS):
The evil queen Bavmorda is exterminating all the babies in the land to stop a prophecy from coming true.  She misses one:  Elora Danan.  The baby floats down the river to supposed safety and is discovered by a group of Nelwins, specifically, Willow and his family.  Willow is charged with taking the baby to the closest humans, in this case Madmartigan.  Willow thanks he is done with his journey when he sees the baby being carried by a hawk and some Brownies. After reuniting with Madmartigan, Willow begins a quest with his companions to free the sorceress Fin Raziel, the only person that might be able to save Elora Danan and defeat Bavmorda.  The whole time they are on this quest they are chased by Sorsha and then by General Kael before the climactic battle with Bavmorda at the end of the movie.

The Good

  • Val Kilmer – Madmartigan – He is the highlight of this movie.  Maybe the best action performance that Kilmer has ever given.  He is in great shape, he is funny and he is a true leading man in this flick.  It is a shame, nowadays to see him relegated to straight to dvd movies for the most part.  In this movie, Kilmer makes Madmartigan a cross between Indiana Jones and Han Solo only with a sword instead of a blaster and a bullwhip.
Willow: See this acorn? I’ll throw it at you and turn you to stone!
Madmartigan: Ooh, I’m really scared. No! Don’t! There’s a- a peck here with an acorn pointed at me!
  • Warwick Davis – Willow – I freakin’ love Warwick Davis.  Freom his beginnings as Wicket the Ewok through all of the leprechaun movies I have seen them all.  His role as Willow is one of my favs.  He really personifies the bungling wizard that wants to be a hero.  It has been argued that this was George Lucas’ (story and Exec Producer)chance to make a Lord of the Rings style movie.  If so then Willow is our Bilbo – a diminutive person sucked into an adventure that he has not asked to be involved in.  If you are looking for something really funny with Davis check out his HBO show Life’s Too Short.
Don’t call me a peck!
  • Joanne Whalley – Sorsha – I love a redhead.  I love Joanne Whalley as a redhead.  Sorsha in this movie is almost Red Sonja with more clothes.  Check out the armor she is wearing, her sword, she is the whole package.  Love her in this flick.
Sorsha: I suppose my power enchanted you and you were helpless against it.
Madmartigan: Sort of.
Sorsha: Then what?
Madmartigan: It… went away.
Sorsha: Went away? “I dwell in darkness without you” and it *went away*?
  • The Fist Sword – If you haven’t seen this then you will be confused but I don’t know what else to call this weapon.  It is a fist weapon that is a sword but is almost as long as a lance.  It changes hands a few times and Madmartigan even uses it after the blade has been broken.  I think it would be a turd in an actually battle, unless you are on horseback, but it looks cool.
  • General Kael’s Armor – Though he does look like Skeletor in his armor, I still, vividly remember this armor from my youth.  You will see the picture in the slideshow above.  It is hard to miss.
  • The Brownies – I don’t know what it is but I love the Brownies in this movie.  The add that touch of humor that you need for the serious scenes.  You need the humor occasionally and these guys really supply that.  They are a little bawdy and a lot of fun and you can help but love a Brownie.  Also, I think this may be the only main stream movie to ever feature a Brownie.
  • The fight in the snow camp – This is of those great movie fight scenes.  The great escape of the companions from the enemy camp, random chaos, a little luck and a little humor.  Madmartigan acting all big, and bad, spinning his sword, catching it and then promptly falling on the ground needs to be played when Kilmer eventually gets recognized by the Academy.

The Bad

  • The Devil Dogs – I know this movie was filmed in 1988 and they didn’t have the best of special effects at the time but the devil dogs are horrible.  They are actually Rottweilers in costume.  Do you know what they look like… Rottweilers in costume.
  • The Brownies – This is a first, the Brownies get to be in the Good and the Bad.  The accent they use is funny but why are they French or French Canadian?

The Ugly

  • The reaction to the pig transformation – The pig transformation is cool but they reaction that they all have to it is not very good.  I would have almost preferred for the whole transformation to have happened off screen.  Plus, it would have been more fantasy appropriate to have had them changed into sheep (ie WOW).

Anyway, I love this movie.  I think, it holds up well and I think it is one of those flicks you need to see if you are into the fantasy thing.  It would have been made entirely different nowadays but I think for the decade it was made in it is still a top fantasy movie in my book.