Disney fucked up. Let's be real, though there is certain jen ne sais quoi that Disney shows and films encompass. Nothing is overall gritty, most scenes are cut well shot well and almost clean to the point of a window display at Macy's. That is neither here nor there, but it creates a world that begs to differ, what the story may be about the air that surrounds it.
Willow is by far my favorite film and it's story, scenes, script are shot effortlessly well. There are little things here and there that make Willow unique, so I was very excited by the show knowing it has been over 30 years since the making of the film.
The show is based around the film, literally and physically as they added some characters that were in the original movie, such as Warwick Davis (Willow) and Joanne Whalley (Sorsha). I had assumed that Davis would make an appearance seeing as how the show is called Willow. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to see more characters as well. My excitement for these factors was short lived as the numerous mistakes that encroached after, drowned out the makings of what could of been a pretty good show.
Disney shows are pretty much the same The Mandelorian, Andor, Willow. They are almost too orchestrated to be real and not dirty enough to be believable. They are good don't get me wrong, but they don't ever fit exactly into the mold they were created for. Willow was created for new fans, not die-hard old fans. Theres nothing in the show that harkens us back to the film except for Davis and even there it's a far stretch. The shows on Disney are geared to young adults 13-20 something, but they often focus too hard on what someone in that age range can comprehend. The thing about Disney, it does not do conflict and action very well, I have not seen a Disney film that feels exceptionally real, raw with emotion. The original Willow feels gritty and that feeling stays with you till the end.
The show’s leg up in the series of shows overpopulating Netflix and Hulu is the group of characters. They move together for most of the show and continually find ways to stay within arms length. They often thwart their own endeavors and leave each other behind, but its very short and by the end of the episode they have wondered back in the fray together at last. Most shows usually follow one or two characters per episode and hardly a two shall be mixed. The Witcher, GOT and The Magicians follow that timeline. They may be good shows or bad, but they start and end the same way. Disney relies heavily on what they think good acting is and costumes and set design. They don’t rely on script, story or the dynamics between actors. Most of the show felt so orchestrated I felt like I was watching a puppet show rather than live actors. With that in mind however, there were only fragments that felt real, while the rest of the show dissolved into chaos pretty quickly. Here is my list thus far.
1. Was anyone as flabbergasted as me to find out 18 years after Elora Danan is saved, trolls can walk and talk and plan parties. Guess evolution sped up, cause the movie showed trolls as just rabid creatures that can crawl under bridges.
2. The ending scene for Graydon and the creatures in the background. The show harkens back to the troll meatball which created a two headed beast that breathes fire. This beast was made by magic and is probably 1 in 8 zillion chance of it happening again.
3. Why is everything so clean, the costumes look never worn, the leather looks freshly sewn, and nothing is rusty. Even when the characters leave and enter the fight, no one ever gets dirty.
4. Why are there no extras, in the original film there were hordes of people. Legions going off to war. There are no extras in Willow. Its always the group with little interchange.
5. The extras we do see, die within 5min of meeting them. Case and point the two women in the forest who by the way look like they are from Greenwich village and not a mythical world. The old man in the fishing hut and Christian Slater.
6. The dialogue/script. There are so many scenes where the dialogue could be funny, however its not because its interrupted by language that would not be of that time period. Sure there's magic, but not cell phones. It was a bit too GenZ for my taste.
7. The downplay of Willow and the encouragement of the other characters. In the original film Willow is the reluctant hero and yes he does save Elora with a magic trick. However, he also uses real magic as well. In the show he's lost his way and everyone is always saying he's not a real sorcerer to the point he believes it himself. The show doesn't become about him anymore in the end and its more so connected to the other characters. Which would be fine, if they just decided to call it something else.
Nitpicking little things.
8. In the original film Elora Danan never uses any magic, she's just a baby. Her hair is reddish too. However in the show Elora has blond hair in the beginning and when she starts to use magic her hair turns red. Is this to say, she lost her magic and regained it back and in doing so gained back her hair color? Also why does no one notice?
9. None of the characters have had a specifically hard life to attain such a distrust of the world. In many films the characters embody their change through the course of the film because of the trials they have been through or go through. They may be the servant in the beginning, but become the hero by the end. This is because the arc of the show pushes them and they push back usually to continue. Here's a break down of the characters and how they change over the show.
10. First of all who made the magical barrier to protect Tiraslene, had to be some powerful magic, right? I don’t remember anything that powerful in the film, nor as powerful at the end of the show.
11. When the group travels to find Willow, they find his village in ruins. Willow speaks about how it was ransacked long ago. However on the way there, there are no other ransacked villages or towns. In fact there aren’t really any ruins to point us in the direction of there being other people outside Tiraslene.
Bow on to the characters. In any film or show, there has to be change either small or large, that’s what keeps us connected to the arc of the story. We want to find out who dies, who falls in love, who wins, who gets caught. There should be turmoil for the character's devolvement as much as there should be for the audience. Disney isn’t doing justice in this area either.
Boorman: He's in jail at first for mostly what seems petty crimes. Put in charge of the group, he still has interior motives. Which he tries to fulfill every chance he gets. His remorse for Madmartigan is short and sweet, but never overly affectionate, as he bypasses any emotion with humor. By the end he realizes he's not worthy of the armor and gives it to Kit. Although in reality, his blunders are just as bad as everyone else's. I don't think anyone deserves the armor, as no one actually thinks that highly of themselves.
Airk: The flirt through the whole show, even when he's contracted by the Crone. Nothing about him seems purely genuine as he has a history with the "ladies." Airk is not part of the quest in reality and the group although goes to save him, they don't care so much when its all over. Theres no emotion to the fact that he is supposed to be in love with Elora, although I think she doesn't care either way.
Jade: Upset by the past that haunts her, she believes that her family is all dead, only to find out midway through the show they are not and in fact her love's father actually killed her dad. Ordinarily, this would probably upset anyone to the point of revenge. However Jade basically sideswipes this idea. Happy she has found her family and knowing she still has Kit on her side, she moves on from the past. Great for the therapist back in Tiraslene, not so great for her growth. She doesn't change much over the rest of the show and instead just becomes Kit's sidekick. Also don't forget her life wasn't that bad back home, she had place to rest and was about to get the job she'd always dreamed of, I think most would kill for those opportunities.
Kit: Kit is a spoiled brat for most of the show, yes she's jealous, yes she's annoying. None of the characters are as annoying as she is, and only by the last two episodes does she redeem some of her inexcusable qualities. Upset by the past thinking her father never loved her and only traded time with her to save Elora. So often she forgets she has a brother and assumes the heartache she has over her father is hers alone. Jade is the only person that reels her back in however over time she lets Elora do that as well. By the last episode she only changes realizing she must let go of her childish wants in order to find her brother and the change we were hoping for in the beginning is slightly fulfilled. She is still the hero she set out to be, but it's not as glamorous as she thought it would be.
Willow: Masked by his failures and past underappreciation in many episodes. Sorsha and other characters allude to the fact that Willow will never surpass what he accomplished in the movie. He however is the only character to know what to do in most of the episodes and is by all means the reluctant teacher. He pushes everyone to see their potential while downgrading himself at the same time. Forced to see what the Crone wants him to see and everyone else's beliefs he wavers every step of the way. In the end, he believes a little bit more he can do more, but it's not enough to save his conscience.
Graydon: The other humor twin (Boorman), Graydon masks his anger over his life with jokes and eventually starts to fall in love with Elora. He shows affection by naming the mud salamander thing Kenneth and feels the pain that all the characters overlook. In Fact over the growth of the show, he is the only one who seems genuinely conflicted. I was actually looking forward to more with his character, but we shall see.
Elora: Elora's change is small and when she does change its not as unexpected as we'd like. If she's such a good baker back home she must of learned it someplace. It's like she forgot what it's like to be in school, but none of these characters besides Boorman or Willow can't be more than 18. She hates being taught by Willow and fights back every chance she gets, which both makes it difficult to move forward, but also increases the dishonesty between the members of the group and the furthers the notions that Willow has no magic. Ultimately breaking the group up which happens in every single episode. We see her change emotions like a bird flying from one person to another searching for a place to rest and ultimately believe that possibly by the end she likes Graydon more than she let on in the beginning. She most certainly is more proficient in magic which gives her leg up regardless.
Ultimately I have found you cannot replicate the greatness of an amazing movie with the same shenanigans. Especially when there is such a large gap in between show and said movie. Willow the movie embodies more than just the trials of the past to secure the future. It has everything a good movie can offer, drama, friction and conflict, action, comedy and magic. Sadly the show falls short and the drama we hope to see is belittled by far too many off-handed jokes and unrealistic characterizations. At the end of the season, I was reminded of Brooklyn nine nine, the L word and Legends of the hidden temple with a bit of Euphoria thrown in the mix. This was not a show for the young or the old but someplace in the middle. If you never saw the movie you might like the show, but if your a die hard fan like me of the movie, you'll know the show is atrocious and only worth watching on snack binges.
Willow the tv show: Swords wrapped in spiderwebs 7/10 entertaining conversation 24% sparks 7.2
broken wand meter ✨✨✨✨✨ (5)