Review: Willow Series Episode 1 & 2 Premiere – Untethering Magic

Willow was a dark fantasy film released in 1988 that starred Warwick Davis in the title role. It followed the story of the young Nelwyn rescuing a child of destiny with a special birthmark, while also trying to become a great sorcerer to stand against evil. The film was not a blockbuster hit during its theatrical run but managed to find a cult following with home video releases afterward. Now after 30 years, Lucasfilm returns to the world of Willow with a series that acts as a sequel to the original film. But does Willow the series on Disney Plus echo the same resonance that its predecessor once did? The two-episode premiere of the show gives everyone a look into what to expect going forward, but it might not be everything fans were hoping for.

The series takes place many years after the events of the movie. Queen Bavmorda was defeated and Willow became the High Aldwin of his village. At the same time, Sorsha became queen and married Madmartigan after their victory over her mother, leading to the birth of twins. During this long time of peace, Sorsha and Willow decide to hide the young child he once found until the day comes when she must train in magic to stand against a new evil, the Gales. It’s here where the series truly begins, following a new group of heroes that embark on a quest to new lands and new dangers in preparation for battle against the Gales.

The first two episodes of the series pack a lot of information, trying to explain what led up to the present day after the original movie and set up the plot for the series. The new cast of characters seems likable at first but quickly becomes uninteresting by the end of both episodes. There’s a growing love between Princess Kit and her childhood friend Jade, who wants to be a knight in service to the crown.

Their romance comes off a bit heavy-handed in the first episode to make their relationship obvious, followed by predictable bickering towards an outcome the show wants them to go. It feels like some moments take up way too much time away from the larger plot being set up in favor of showing Kit and Jade interact on screen. Whether this will have a satisfying payoff by the time the season ends is anybody’s guess, but it’s a rocky start.

But what about Willow himself? The titular sorcerer doesn’t show up till the very end of the first episode and then finally has a stronger presence in the second. There’s a lot of exposition about what happened to him between the time of the original film and the series. Warwick Davis does a solid job reprising his role, but there are moments where the monologues he has sound awkwardly delivered. It’s to a point where he should’ve had another take to deliver his dialogue with more seriousness. But outside those few moments, he does get to shine in others where Willow’s wisdom and age are on full display. The character has gone through a lot since we last saw him. Unfortunately, we don’t get a lot of magical displays from Willow in the first two episodes, which hopefully isn’t an indication of what will happen for most of the series.

The rest of the cast has their ups and downs, with the standout being Amar Chadha-Patel as Boorman. He’s more of the comic relief of the group with an underlying seriousness and history that will hopefully unfold as the plot progresses. Not all of his jokes land, but there are a few funny moments he manages to pull off. On the flip side of this, Erin Kellyman as Jade and Tony Revolori as Prince Graydon is more one-note in comparison. Jade is headstrong towards being a loyal and disciplined knight, while Graydon comes off as a cowardly prince who isn’t all that he seems. The two of them get a lot of screen time in the first two episodes but haven’t really gotten to display the interesting depth to them as Boorman does when in a scene. Hopefully, the action that comes in subsequent episodes will make up for this and give each of them better displays of their characters.

To its credit, the presentation of Willow as a series looks pretty good. The landscapes that the party travels through a great tone of adventure that any fantasy quest should have. While at the same time the enemies who appear briefly in the first two episodes have a dark and foreboding presence to them. It might not feel as threatening as it could possibly be, but as more about the Gales is uncovered the dark forces could take on a more twisted appearance.

The first two episodes of Willow the series are an okay start. It’s not quite hitting the ground running as much as it is stumbling forward, especially with how many things outside the main plot are given attention. The full series is set to have eight episodes in total for the first season. With another six to be released, hopefully, more interesting parts of the larger plot will unfold and expand upon the world of Willow for fans who have waited a long time to see what happens next.

Have you gotten a chance to watch the Willow series on Disney Plus? Have you wanted to see more Willow all these years? Post a comment down below and let us know your thoughts!

Willow Series Episode 1 & 2 Premiere
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    Willow Series Episode 1 & 2 Premiere - 60%
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Summary

The premiere of this series is OK, getting everyone reintroduced to a fantasy world we haven’t seen in a long time. While everything is set up for the rest of the series, a few rocky parts take away attention from the larger story, making things less interesting. The title character is good, but still has a lot more room to do more as the series goes on.

Jakejames Lugo

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