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- Runtime:126 min
- Release Date:2014-07-30 13:01:00
- Director: Ron Howard
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
An enjoyable film but it just lacks something that Lucas's Star Wars
Episodes IV to VI films and Raiders of the Lost Ark had.
The film borrows heavily from Tolkien, and is a clear attempt to create
a new potential franchise. The plot is satisfactory if conventional and
unsurprising. It is a journey of a small hobbit like race called
Nelwyns, led by a very impressive performance by Warwick Davis as
Wilford Ufgood. In fact, the performances by all the actors playing
Nelwyns are impressive and enjoyable, and these characters do act as
the heart of the film. However, other characters are not as
interesting. Val Kilmer's Madmartigan is a stereotype and his
performance is very uneven. In some scenes the character works, in
others it doesn't. In fact this is part of the films major problem.
Individual scenes work, but these scenes don't connect that well to
others and the acting performances are in a lot of cases uneven and
therefore jar. Some moments performances are broad and over the top,
and then the same characters suddenly come across as more restrained.
In fact the only consistency of performance is by the Nelwyn
characters, and the two miniature Brownie characters, who are well
played by Kevin Pollack and Rick Overton. They are very well realised
due to ILM's visual effects and some clever over-sized sets.
The films action set pieces are generally solid, with a particularly
impressive set of action set pieces shot in the snow on location in New
Zealand. However, some of the other action sequences feel more
impressive than genuinely exciting and don't involve the viewer
particularly. Adrian Biddle's photography is gritty and gives the film
a realistic look and feel in a very similar way the Andrew Lesnie did
on the Lord of the Rings Films so 14 years later. ILM's visual effects
work is very impressive, most notably the sequences where we see the
first 'morphing' (shape changing) digital effects, overseen by ILM
veteran Dennis Muren and digital effects artist Douglas Smythe. He
would go on to be associated with a number of early pioneering digital
effects sequences, including the water tentacle in the Abyss, and the
morphing effects in Terminator 2. He won an academy award for his
ingenious work on Death Becomes Her and a series of technical awards
for his contribution the development of digital technology in film.
Allan Cameron's production design is first rate and gives an authentic
and mysterious feel to the film.
However, no amount of impressive technical work isn't able to fully
compensate for the fact that the film doesn't quite come together. The
music and editing are solid, if uninspiring, and its seems that
director Ron Howard and executive producer George Lucas had their focus
on managing the film's practical issues, the visual effects, the
performance of the actors playing Nelwyns, and the two actors playing
the main Brownies. These areas of the film are the strong parts, but
the film suffers because of the lack of development and performance of
the other characters, notably Val Kilmer's Madmartigan, Joanne
Whalley's Sorsha, Patricia Hayes's Raziel, Jean Marsh's Queen Bavmorda
and Pat Roach's General Kael who all give uneven and inconsistent
In all a solidly entertaining film, but not an entirely satisfying one
that makes this reviewer feel that something was missing that prevented
the film from being truly special.
Now I don't think Willow is the best fantasy film ever made(a three
way-toss up between Pan's Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands and The
NeverEnding Story) nor is it the worst(Dungeons & Dragons). It does
have problems, but I thought it was entertaining.
My first problem is Warwick Davis, now his title character is a very
charming and likable character, but Davis's performance is somewhat
uneven. At first it is uncomfortable and bland, then as the film
progressed he got better as we got to know the character better.
Another problem is that the special effects are a little dated
especially the beast with the two heads. My final flaw is that there
are one or two scenes in the middle half that felt a little forced.
However, thanks to a quirky, funny and honest script, it is actually
entertaining. You may argue that the film is too long, and that the
plot is unoriginal and formulaic, but the film does move quickly and a
lot happens. The scenery, cinematography and costumes are also really
nice to look at, maybe not as stunning as other fantasy films such as
the Lord of the Rings movies, NeverEnding Story or Legend(which has one
of the most exquisitely rendered forest sets I have ever seen on it)
but it at least looks nice. The score by James Horner is also really
pleasant though Horner has done better(I still bawl at the main theme
for The Land Before Time), the main theme is definitely memorable and
is surprisingly not generic. The direction from Ron Howard is good, and
the acting is decent as they bring alive somewhat interesting
characters. Davis is uneven as I have said already, but Joanne Whalley
is alluring as Sorscha, while Val Kilmer does really well in a flashier
and darker role with some good lines. Rool and Franjean are the
funniest characters, and it is a delight to see Billy Barty again.
However, Jean Marsh steals the show as Queen Bavmorda, her performance
is the epitome of sheer evil.
Overall, flawed but decent fantasy film with some interesting elements.
7/10 Bethany Cox
I haven't watched this film for a long time I decided to get it on DVD
as it was so cheap and I was very pleasantly surprised! It's a great
adventure fantasy film and brought back some good memories. Val Kilmer
is brilliant in his role as Mad Mordigan – I love his character. The
locations for the scenes are really good too, however the special
effects such as the gigantic troll monster creature were very dated.
The trolls themselves were actually a little scary as were the dog/wolf
creatures, they might frighten younger children. Jean Marsh is good as
the evil queen; she is very good in dark roles like in Return to Oz as
Mombi. Overall a very enjoyable film to watch, I didn't get bored at
all or switch off as it is full of action the whole way through and
definitely worth the money!!
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