The timing on this release is just about perfect: close enough to the theatrical release of The Lord of the Rings for people to be eager for some high fantasy, but far in advance enough that comparisons will be less likely.
The story, by George Lucas, should be familiar to followers of his work. Once again, there is the promised deliverer, this time in the form of a baby girl. A quest ensues to save her, and the leader of this quest is Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a Lu…as version of a hobbit. He is joined by swordsman Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, the warrior daughter of the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh).
The box claims that this is “one of the most beloved fantasy tales of all time.” Well, that doesn’t mean a lot, when you think about the number of high fantasy films that are actually any good. Still, standard as this story is, the characters are engaging, and the production values, as one would expect from a Lucas production, are top notch.
The audio is very strong, and plays a big part in developing the sense of entering another world. The music, standard James Horner bombast, thunders with drama or whistles with whimsy in full surround. The sound effects are distinctly noticeable as well. But in all the chaos, the voices remain clear, and there is no distortion.
The picture is very nice, and preserves the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect. The picture is sharp, the blacks solid, and there are no transfer problems. The dark scenes are perfectly clear, with no grain or image enhancement effects. A very attractive package.
The menu is fully (and creatively) animated and scored on the main page, while the pages are still and silent. The main extra is commentary from Warwick Davis. Davis is articulate and informative. He concentrates on the actors, filling us in on the backgrounds of performers in even the most minor parts. His comments are also scene specific, and while he does go into some behind-the-scenes detail, he steers clear of the extremely technical.
There are also two featurettes, a typical promo piece called “Willow: Making of an Adventure,” and the somewhat more interesting “Morf to Morphing,” which looks at the film’s pioneering use of digital effects. There is also a behind-the-scenes still gallery (none of the pictures are labelled), and more trailers than you can shake a stick at: three 15-second TV spots, five 30-second TV spots, two teasers and the theatrical trailer itself.
No, it’s not The Lord of the Rings. Yes, we’ve seen the story before. But it’s not a bad story, and it certainly looks great here.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Warwick Davis
- Featurettes: “Willow: Making of an Adventure” and “Morf to Morphing”
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Teasers, Trailer and TV Spots