1988 fantasy movie Willow It was underrated in its day, but is now a fantasy cult classic. Disney + bets on the strength of its nostalgic appeal with the new fantasy series Willow, set decades after the events of the first film. And now we have an official trailer, which debuted at the D23 Expo.
As we have previously reported, the original Willow was directed by Ron Howard, and told the story of a boy with a runic birthmark who was prophesied to bring about the downfall of the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda. The boy was floated on a grass raft and found by a town of little people (Nelwyn). A dwarf sorcerer from Nelwyn named Willow led a group to find a community of daikini (tall people) to raise the baby. Many magical adventures followed.
The Oscar-nominated film debuted to mixed reviews, but did decently at the box office, earning $137.6 million worldwide, despite never becoming the box-office hit producer George Lucas hoped it would be. Lucas and Davis had discussed the possibility of a sequel series as early as 2005, but Disney+ didn’t greenlight the project until October 2020, with Howard on board as executive producer.
The series looks and sounds like a promising return to that world. Among other positive signs, Warwick Davis returns as Nelwyn’s dwarf sorcerer, Willow Ufgood. (Davis was on stage for the trailer unveiling at the D23 Expo.) The official synopsis describes the series as “an epic period fantasy series with a modern sensibility set in an enchanted land of breathtaking beauty,” much in the same vein as the original film.
The story begins with an aspiring wizard from a Nelwyn village and a little girl destined to unite the kingdoms, who together help destroy an evil queen and banish the forces of darkness. Now, in a magical world where goblins, sorcerers, trolls and other mystical creatures flourish, the adventure continues, as an unlikely group of heroes embark on a perilous quest to places far beyond their home, where they must confront their inner demons and find themselves… Come together to save your world.
In addition to Davis’s return, Joanne Whalley returns as Sorsha, daughter of the defeated queen Bavmorda from the original film, and an accomplished warrior in her own right. Kevin Pollak reprises his role as brownie Rool, who brings a bit of levity to the process. Unfortunately, Val Kilmer has been recovering from throat cancer and was therefore unable to return as the mercenary swordsman Madmartigan. But we learned from the panelists that Christian Slater will be joining the cast as a friend of the swashbuckler, described simply as “a character seeking help.” Then Madmartigan will be there in spirit.
New characters include Erin Kellyman as a servant named Jade, who is training to become a warrior; Ruby Cruz as Kit, Sorsha’s daughter Jade’s best friend, who throws a party to rescue her twin brother; Ellie Bamber as a kitchen maid named Dove; and Amar Chadha-Patel as a thief named Boorman, who is promised his freedom in exchange for helping the group. Ralph Ineson plays Commander Ballantine, Adwoah Aboa plays Scorpia, Kenny Knight plays Keene, Alexis Rodney plays Lachlan, Charlie Rawes plays Toth, and Talisa Garcia plays the queen and mother of Tony Revolori’s unnamed character. Dempsey Bryk and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers have been cast in undisclosed roles.
The trailer begins with an eerie voiceover: “You think you know what’s real and what’s not. What’s light, what’s dark. Now forget everything you know. Come with me.” Cut to Sorsha saying “Willow”. She sends Kit to find the sorcerer and ask for his help in rescuing her kidnapped son from her, because the world once again needs her magic. Of course, Willow agrees to help, leading them “beyond the edge of our world into the unknown.” There’s a nameless enemy out there, “gathering the forces of evil,” says Willow. “And the only thing standing in his way is us.”
Pollak’s brief appearance as Rool (and could it be Franjean with him?) was the highlight for me. He’s thrilled to see his old friend Willow again, and basically mimics the first movie’s narrative arc: “Just like old times. Running! Horses! Mayhem! Mayhem! Happy kissing ending!” “. Yes, that sums it up. And it looks like the series will offer much more of the same.
Willow debuts on Disney+ on November 30, 2022.
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