WILLOW 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Review
There are certain movies that are able to transport you back to a certain time and place in your life – Willow is one of those movies. 20th Century Fox has released it on Blu-ray for the first time for it’s 25th Anniversary. The movie does not have the same grand feel as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, but Willow makes up for it with captivating characters, a rousing score, and a fantastic story.
Ron Howard directs this cult classic, which was produced under George Lucas’ LucasFilm banner. It stars Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, and Kevin Pollack. I have watched Willow dozens of times, but up until this recent viewing I had no idea that Kevin Pollack played one of the tiny characters known as “Brownies”. The cast is perfect for each of there wonderful characters.
George Lucas and Bob Dolman wrote the script that tells the magical story of Willow Ufgood as he faces off against the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda and her forces of darkness. Willow is a farmer who finds a baby floating in the river near his home. He soon realizes that the baby is named Elora Dannon and has special powers. Willow unwillingly embarks on a mission to fulfill the prophecy of the sacred child. Along the way he teams with Madmartigan a horse thief and master swordsman to defeat the evil Queen and her armies.
The action sequences are truly amazing. They are even more amazing when you remember that despite Lucas Films involvement, there were a bunch of practical effects used during filming. Don’t worry there are also plenty of cool VFX. My favorite has to be the two headed monster (which oddly sounds like a monster from Star Wars). I love the scene in which Madmartigan is showing off his sword skills and the monster appears behind him and the army groans with fear. Of course he thinks it is because they are afraid to fight him. It is one of the many moments of action that is mixed with humor throughout the film.
Luckily the Blu-ray looks and sounds wonderful, and these moments are not muddied by poor quality. The picture looks as good as it has ever looked. George Lucas oversaw the digital transfer of the movie to 1080p, which I am thankful for. The video looks spectacular, from shots with plenty of lighting to interior moments that are darker. The sound quality is equally stunning. Lucas and THX made sure that the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track sounds fabulous. James Horner’s score sounds as beautiful as I remember it, and helps immerse audiences into the action.
- Willow: Deleted Scenes with Ron Howard: This 12 minute section features Howard talking about some of the deleted scenes, many of which would have been cool to see in the film. This is rare, because delete scenes are typically ones that were cut for a reason, but some of these were cut because the VFX were too complicated or time constraints.
- The Making of an Adventure with Ron Howard: This is the longest and the best feature on the disc for fans. Ron Howard introduces a 23 minute making-of feature that includes retro interviews with Lucas and himself, a look into the special effects and tons of behind-the-scenes footage.
- From Morf to Morphing with Dennis Muren: Visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren (Jurassic Park,Terminator 2) introduces this 2001 documentary about ILM’s cutting-edge effects (at the time).
- Willow: An Unlikely Hero – Personal Video Diary of Warwick Davis: Warwick Davis is one of the reasons that this film is so special, at least in my opinion. This 10 minute video shows him reminiscing about shooting the movie.
- Matte Paintings: A cool video montage of the film’s matte painting.