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I am – Hercules!!

Sunday night without Alexandra DuPont is like Billy Barty without nonstop squinting. Attorney, physicist, former teen actress, and uncredited Smashing Pumpkins session guitarist, Lexy now takes a break from her consultations on two high-profile sequel screenplays to have a gander at the new DVD of “Willow,” a movie that would define disappointment for a generation.

Thanks as always to The DVD Journal for the regular loan of the comely (and versatile!) Ms. DuPont’s fabulous Sunday-night reviews!

Review by Alexandra DuPont                    

It is a time of dread....

Seers have foretold the birth of a child
who will bring about the downfall
of the powerful Queen Bavmorda.

Seizing all pregnant women in the realm,
the evil queen vows to destroy the child
when it is born....

Even with that infanticidal, King Herod-ish opening narrative crawl, it's hard to get too terribly excited about Willow, which makes its DVD debut on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

[box cover]Released five years after Return of the Jedi, Willow seemed to find executive producer George Lucas in a bit of a narrative rut. (Here, as in Jedi, he took executive-producer and "story-by" credit; Ron Howard directed from a screenplay by Bob Dolman.) By 1988, Lucas' Star Wars trilogy had entered the cultural fabric, and his effects company and THX accreditation arm continued to push moviemaking's technical limits — but Lucas wanted to create another mythological "tent pole" series exploring his pet thematic hobbyhorses ("the hero's journey," small-scale vs. large-scale, the power of courage and fealty in overthrowing tyranny and redeeming rogues — all that rot).

And so, with the rights to Lord of the Rings apparently unavailable, Lucas concocted the story of tiny Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) — a "Nelwyn" (i.e., an ersatz Hobbit) who's conscripted by a wizard (the great Billy Barty, playing an ersatz Gandalf) to deliver a magical baby named Elora Danan (an ersatz One Ring) into safe hands (i.e., into the ersatz fires of Mt. Doom).

Along the way, Willow gathers together a Fellowshi — er, pack of traveling babysitters, redeems the warrior Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), shifts the allegiance of the warrior princess Sorsha (Joanna Whalley), learns wizardry from a wise old sorceress (Patricia Hayes), and helps overthrow an empire run by the aforementioned Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh).

(Oh, and lest you think Lucas didn't have a larger "tent pole" series in mind, see his apparently quite boring Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy of novels [Shadow Moon, Shadow Dawn and Shadow Star], conceived by Lucas and written by comic-book scribe Chris Claremont. They chronicle the further adventures of the diminutive wizard — whose name gets changed early on from "Willow Ufgood" to the much cooler-sounding "Thorn Drumheller" — and a grown-up, spoiled-brat Elora Danan.)

To its credit, Willow delivers its story in a coherent, often charming fashion — at least after it navigates a leaden opening half-hour set in a Nelwyn village (a sequence of historic interest as the single largest gathering ever of "little people" on a film set). And there are some interesting, non-Hollywood diversions in the narrative — for example, there's an obsessive focus on scale and caste (there's a race of people called "Brownies" that's even tinier than the Nelwyn, two of them played with doofy French accents by Kevin Pollack and Rick Overton); then there's the leisurely way Willow gathers its protagonists over the opening 45 minutes....

The only problem is, those narrative "oddities" had already been worked over in Star Wars — and Willow wasn't distinctive enough to qualify as a "thematic riff." Despite a few nice bits, cool effects, and winning characters — particularly a lively, improvising Kilmer as the rogue swordsman Madmartigan — there's a certain deja vu to the proceedings, beyond even the obvious Lord of the Rings pilfering. To wit, a handy chart:

• Willow = Luke
• Madmartigan = Han
• Brownies = R2-D2 and C-3PO
• Princess Sorsha = Princess Leia (including romance with charming rogue)
• Queen Bavmorda = Emperor
• General Kael (subtle!) = Darth Vader/Boba Fett
• Bavmorda's Castle Nockmaar = Death Star

And that's just a warm-up. Locales, monsters, and assorted story points all line up more or less Lego-perfect. The unfortunate side effect of all this brazen similarity is that — particularly with story-solid but visually workmanlike Ron Howard at the helm — Willow feels like a B-team effort. The "little people" playing Nelwyn villagers, while impressively front-and-center and not wearing creature masks for a change, aren't uniformly good actors; the infrequent action sequences lack the visual crispness of the Spielberg/Lucas "A-team," and James "Self-Plagiarism" Horner's score, while possessed of some nice melodies, seems intrusive and labored in a way that John Williams' best work isn't. Oh, and there's a running visual joke where a Nelwyn trader (Mark Northover) keeps getting puked and shat upon — an unfortunate foreshadowing of Phantom Menace's own fart and poop humor.

Still, I've never quite understood the unreserved vitriol some people hold for Willow. It's a mixed bag, sure, but there's some fun to be had. For one thing, Kilmer is insanely winning as Madmartigan, and his violent romance with Sorsha, while abruptly staged, is probably the movie's most passionate element. The effects are among the best of the "low-fi" pre-digital era (and mark ILM's first use of "morphing," making this an important transitional work, effects-wise). A climactic battle with a two-headed dragon, while a little choppy animation-wise, is quite a bit of brutal fun. And you've got to like any fantasy film that sidelines almost all of its lead characters to climax with a brutal, elderly-sorceress catfight. Mrrowr!

*          *          *

ABOUT the DVD and EXTRAS....

Fox Home Entertainment's Willow: Special Edition DVD looks great. The extras are polite and not terribly plentiful — not that they needed to be anything other than such.

First up, there's a commentary track by veteran "short actor" Warwick Davis, who was more or less cinema's first (and only) serious midget male lead. Davis is extremely well-prepared — so prepared, in fact, that he seems to have recycled many of the same anecdotes almost word-for-word in his recent Onion AV Club interview.

The commentary's a benign affair, with Davis talking about the differences between Lucas's and Howard's directorial methods; his awe of Billy Barty; the challenge of learning how to act subtly without a creature mask; the fact that John Cusack and Matt Frewer were both up for the part of Madmartigan; his great relationship with Val Kilmer (whom Davis, unlike many people in the entertainment business, seemed to like a great deal); his abject terror during the filming of any and all action/suspense sequences; and of course his encyclopedic knowledge of the world of short actors (Davis, for example, instantly identifies three actors in a background festival band as having appeared in Time Bandits). One does wish the actor would offer a little more dish (even Ron Howard has said in interviews that the Nelwyn-village set was basically an "insane," hedonistic party), but Davis's genial self-effacement and fond memories of the production are, for lack of a better word, winning.

As for the other extras: There's the original 1988 featurette "Willow: The Making of an Adventure" (21:30), which features Ron Howard with a porn-star mustache and George Lucas a good 50 pounds lighter — both pretending the "Brownies" were actually two-inch-tall actors flown in for the production. Yes, it's as cringe-worthy as it sounds. Then there's the brand-new "From Morf to Morphing: The Dawn of Digital Filmmaking" (17:00), which explores the digital technique invented for Willow that would fairly abruptly change the face of special effects forever. There's also a photo gallery of mostly behind-the-scenes shots, eight TV spots ranging from 15 to 30 seconds in length, two theatrical teaser trailers, and a full theatrical trailer.

(All this advertising material, by the way, should show how big a deal Lucasfilm expected this movie to be in 1988. But please — an action/fantasy entitled Willow? It sounds like a bloody gardening programme.)

— Alexandra DuPont

• Color
• Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
• Single-sided, single-layered disc (SS-SL)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English, Spanish)
• English and Spanish subtitles
• Audio commentary by Warwick Davis
• Original 1988 featurette: "Willow: The Making of an Adventure" (21 min.)
• Featurette: "From Morf to Morphing: The Dawn of Digital Filmmaking" (17 min.)
• Theatrical trailer, two theatrical teasers
• Eight TV spots
• Behind-the-scenes photo gallery
• Keep-case

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 26, 2001, 12:44 a.m. CST

    Midgets can't act!

    by Horus

    This film is wall to wall with some truly bad little actors.They get into films only because theyre small...but having to watch them try to act is horrible.Oddly enough every midget seems to have that same flat poor style of delivery,{See Time Bandits , and Legend for more proof}Oh and this movie is sooo weak , that.. its climax consists of two old women fighting, and rolling around on the floor!!This film was a good taster for how low Lucas could sink with hamfisted comedy{Yeah Ron Howard directed , but George is all over this}Those little totally unfunny brownies ..What the f*** were they all about!I'm afraid the only Willow I'm interested in having , is the one from Buffy{Oh.. I wish I hadn't said that}

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 12:44 a.m. CST


    by yneway

    Why go out of the way to put a dvd reveiw up if the reviewer doesn't even like the movie? Can these be submitted by anyone? Basically you just complain about the movie and list the features, right? It's not like its a new movie or something. I'm sure who hated the movie won't get it and those who do will, so whats the point? Look for my review of the Darrin's Dance Grooves in coming weeks right here at Aint it Cool(?) News. Darrin breaks it down...for you.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 12:54 a.m. CST

    yneway has a good point...

    by MCVamp

    Once we get a film to DVD, isn't the review process, as far as the movie goes, moot? Oh well, Ms. Dupont usually nails most of her reviews. I think this one was a little off and felt the brunt of the bad taste a lot of people got from Phantom Menace, plus the whole midgets on a quest thing that obviously owes more than a tad to Lord of the Rings. Still, she's right on when she said Val Kilmer as Madmartigan carries the picture. Rarely has a non-Asian guy of average build looked so damn cool with just a steel sword. I also take exception to the above poster who said lil' folks can't act. It's true, most of them can't. However, one very notable exception was David Rappaport, who played Randall in Time Bandits. It's actually a winning performance with some depth.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Awright, I'll say it already...

    by TheMadHatter

    Willow has a beer and cheets on his Brownie!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:08 a.m. CST

    OH MY GOD!!

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    I love you, Ms. DuPont! Please marry me! You're hotter than Polly Ester over at (the former)!! As for Willow, never saw it. I take it this review ain't referring to what's-her-name from Buffy . . ? Ah, never mind. Bored now.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:22 a.m. CST

    Herc the Angry Drunken Brownie

    by Hercules

    1) If you you write anywhere near as well as Ms. DuPont, take your best shot ......... 2) I'd put Danny Woodburn, of "Seinfeld" and "Special Unit 2," up against any living actor under 4'6", including Linda Hunt and Tom Cruise.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Not a woman?

    by busorama

    Tempting....but no.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:42 a.m. CST

    "Shadow Moon"

    by Prankster

    I'm ashamed to say I read this book. Bleah. I don't know why they even bothered to attach the "Willow" name to it--they kill off Sorsha and Madmartigan in the opening chapter, then change Willow's name to "Thorn Drumheller"--what the hell is the point? Though the idea of Elora grown up and acting like a spoiled brat is somewhat clever. It's been a long time since I saw Willow, I remember finding it a bit boring as a kid (believe it or not), though that morphing sequence kicked a great deal of ass. And yes, the rips from LOTR became very apparent as I grew up. At one point I considered LOTR more or less unfilmable because Willow had already stolen most of the best bits.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:53 a.m. CST

    What are you talking about, I thought WILLOW was the source mate

    by IAmLegolas

    ...and apparently for HARRY POTTER as well, check out this tagline for the WILLOW DVD as spotted in this week's Entertainment Weekly : "Before There Were Hobbits, Before There Were Wizards, There Was An Unlikely Hero Named... WILLOW". Hmm.... I guess Luca$ was the originator for everything.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:10 a.m. CST


    by Robin Goodfellow

    Time Bandits was friggin' great! All the midgets in that flick rocked. Maybe I'm just partial to it because I like Gilliam so much, I dunno. Willow, however: even as a child I felt short changed after seeing it on an HBO preview weekend many a year ago. I thought to myself "Was that it? Maybe this a version edited for the preview weekend." Sadly it wasn't.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:25 a.m. CST

    I want my Howard the Duck on DVD now!

    by slav

    Most of my DVD collection consists of movies of long ago and Willow is about to be added cause god damn, I enjoyed that film. I love my fantasy A to B films and this one is no exception. That whole "Willow is Star Wars spelled backwards" (yeah i just made that up for a point)arguement is just as original as the film itself. I say who gives a shit. This is what Lucas does and always will - tell the same story with different characters. God bless him for it. I go on the ride all the time and love it. If you're looking for originality, go watch some pretentious wank job that is an arthouse film. Dark Overlords rule!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:25 a.m. CST

    Give me a break, George doesn't even deserve credit for STAR

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    ...I mean come ON..."the SOURCE is strong in this one..." " not be tempted by the DARKSEID of the force..." etc. etc. YOU figure it out...the parallels go on and on....

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:34 a.m. CST

    CISCO Bunny and the AICN Cartoonatures....

    by EricAlan69

    Yeah! You're SOOO Right! 'Cause, you know, those cartoons of Harry make him look SOOOOO hot! And, of course, Moriarty looks just RAVISHING in his bunny slippers! Hell, I'm thinking that Herc looks pretty fine as a dead, legless-zombie-ish....THING! I understand the necessity of most regular AICN writers to go by a nom-de-plume and hide pictures of themselves (it helps to get into screenings, for a start), but using Harry as an example, he sort of *is* relative famous, you know? //e.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Guilty pleasure...

    by Silvio Dante

    if there ever was one, Willow. DVD is worth buying just for the sight of Opie Cunningham's x-rated 'stache.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 4:33 a.m. CST

    This and Masters Of The Universe...

    by Essemtee

    Two movies I expected to be great, wild rides, but both turned out be just mildly entertaining cinema. (Where were Prince Adam, Battle Cat, Orko, Trap-Jaw, Man-E-Faces, Tri-Klops, Mer-Man, Stratos, Ram Man...) Oh wait, we're talking about Willow here. Well, kids seemed indifferent to it when it was released, and that's probably what hurt it the most. This DVD seems to be for the nostalgic peeps out there. That and to line Lucas' pocketbook some more. Enough rambling, time to check out some Alyson Hannigan fansites...

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 5:12 a.m. CST

    "uncredited Smashing Pumpkins session guitarist"?!!!

    by Tall_Boy

    hey, babe, if you laid down tracks for SILVERFUCK then you're the coolest chick in the universe (SP's 1991-2000 DVD is one of the best music DVD's out there!) Uhm, Willow? Haven't seen it in years, maybe I'll rent the DVD on a fluke...

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Crisco Bunny or whatever you call yourself. . .

    by RenoNevada2000

    I don't care what AdP actually looks like, just based on her writing I would gladly squire her around on a night out on the town simply because I know there would be great conversation.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:16 a.m. CST

    It's far too easy...

    by Lobanhaki set up analogies and say that they are true, but the truth is that Willow and LOTR are both quest narratives, and because of that, they are by their very nature similar. Does Harry Potter resemble the Matrix (in having a hero who is brought out from adverse conditions to become a protector against evil forces) because Rowling copied off the Matrix? No. The similarities exist because they deal with the same eternal parts of the human condition, the same myth, in a separate way (just for those cynics who want to jump on Harry Potter, please remember it came out about 1998.)

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Willow is great... This chic is nuts.

    by cthulhu_

    Willow is an awesome movie. I agree with the comment about reviewers completely disliking the DVD. It is very poor. Why bother reviewing a DVD just so you can bitch about it "ripped" off lord of the rings... Christ, using your silly parralel analogies, you could make anything seem like it ripped off LoTR or Star Wars... This is the same dumb ass logic those wacky Robert Anton Wilson freaks use to try to justify the "Law of Fives". Get over it you crazy, wacky nut... Willow Rules...

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Movie & Sequel novels only average

    by RobRed1

    I liked Willow. It was good, mindless entertainment. The books (the sequel trilogy) are not bad, just average and not very original. Even the fact that Elora discovers that her magic is best expressed (cast spells) by DANCING is not entirely original. Don't remember where, but I've seen that before somewhere. Of course, I'm reading the third and final book now. Once I start something, I've got to finish it, no matter how bad the movie or mediocre the book.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:52 a.m. CST

    No bias here...

    by EvilNight

    No, none at all. Hah. You're forgetting... Willow was campy, silly, and yes, a typical hero-vs-villan movie. However, it was TONS of fun, and the score totally kicks ass. This is a guilty pleasure movie as much as Evil Dead II is, just different genre and fanbase. Now, it's interesting that you point out the similarities between Willow and Star Wars... and then point out the similarities between Willow and Lord of the Rings. Are you saying that Star Wars is a Lord of the Rings ripoff? Surely you jest! ;)

  • I don't know why people are so angry at Alexandra DuPont over this one. 2 out of 5 stars for Willow sounds about right to me. Saw it when I was 13, it was fun, but a bit embarassing at many points. I see no reason to see it again. Anyways, she has a great review site, I check it out whenever I'm debating buying vs. renting a DVD, and she has yet to steer me wrong. She is infinitely more qualified to be posting reviews than most, if not all, the talkbackers here (obviously myself included). And, as for people saying that DVDs should not even be reviewed. Are you guys on crack? Of course they should be reviewed! There may be added / deleted scenes, the movie may be very dated, the transfer could be horrible or excellent.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Why is Linda Hunt on the DVD cover?

    by AnotherThief

    hehe... sorry ;)

  • Fantasy films are such a rare commodity. I still think this is one of the best and beats the hell out of something like, say, Dragonslayer or the Beastmasters or something like that. I do that LOTR is as good or even close to decent as we all hope. We desperately need to see a revival of this genre. It's sad when I have to back over ten years to find the last decent fantasy film that I watched. This also features James Horner's best score of his career. I for one can't wait to have this DVD and have it turned up loud! God knows Lucas et al did better work with more heart on this than TPM. I will take this level of work any day of the week over that!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Let me add something...

    by ewem

    The two books that Lucas wrote with Claremont came out much later...into the realm of when Lucas had already shown signs that he had lost it and become the angry and depressed cynic that he obviously is. And we all know it's Claremont when the characters start calling each other "meat." This wasn't WILDCATS or CYBERFORCE Chris! These books are a travesty and utterly destroy whatever good came out of the movie. Within the first few pages of the first book, EVERYONE dies! Willow changes his name and his persona...and none of this ever gets restored! Willow reflects his creator...angry, violent, depressed and God knows what else. That's the way it's been ever since. This was the foreshadowing of something terribly wrong. And oh yes, that pattern showed up again with TPM, where once again Lucas is destroying his own creation. I can't say I have much hope for Episode 2 after watching Natalie and the big dude look so awkward like a couple of teeny boppers dating at the drive in. Are we really going to have to sit through those awkward scenes of them strolling, holding hands by the water et al? Oh well...I digress. Too bad Horner's score didn't get isolated on this DVD. The CD that came out years ago is showing its age. I wouldn't mind seeing that thing re-released and cleaned up a touch.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:47 p.m. CST


    by EvilNight

    Now that you mention it, I did like Willow better than TPM. Damn. Kind of puts it in order when you think about it like that. Excuse me while I go retch in the toilet...

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:48 p.m. CST

    reviewing DVD's

    by Elwood Blues

    When a new DVD is released, of course it needs to be reviewed. But the review needs to be focused on the special features and technical aspects of it. I don't believe anyone would disagree that these items should be reviewed. However, when it comes to having a reviewer who didn't like the film still take the responsibilty of reviewing it, how does that serve us who may be interested in buying it? "Hey, I liked Willow, maybe I'll go buy it. I wonder if the video transfer is high quality. I should see what ain' thinks of the special features before I buy it. But oh wait, this DuPont girl says she hates the movie, I guess I shouldn't get it." Anyone see the illogicalness (is that a word?) in this? Of course in a DVD review, there should be some rehash on how good (or bad) a movie was, but that should be kept minimal. The main focus should be on the extras. Hey Harry, not bashing your site, I love it! I just think DVD reviewers should at least somewhat like a film to review it's release on DVD. This because I am considering buying Willow, but wasn't sure, and wanted to check it out here, and the review didn't help me decide.

  • This is the first, and quite simply the last, time that I ever waste my time on this person's DVD review board at aicn. Maybe not. Maybe I should read her next post about a DVD, and then tear it to smithereens. For one thing, I am pissed off at myself because I missed the widescreen presentation of Willow on the SCI-FI channel about one or two Sundays ago. I guess you can call my generation the 'Lucas/Spielberg Generation.' What I mean is, is that I was hatched in '76. Then Star Wars came out and my parents took me to all three films. It's too bad they didn't take me to Willow. Indiana Jones and ET also came out in the early 80s, but I can't remember seeing the first Indy in a theater. Willow was one of those films that gave my imagination a wild ride when I first saw it on TV. I might just try the Willow DVD and enjoy the magic because I like it. Those of you who bash things to bits just don't get it.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Willow was okay...does everything have to be high art?

    by tbrosz

    I thought the movie was a hoot, and ordered the DVD to show my kids. I too liked "Legend," "Labyrinth," "Neverending Story," and other films for the same reasons: fun movies with some beautiful sets and effects. And I'm with Herc on this one: On "Special Unit 2," when the banter between the leads dies down, Danny Woodburn carries the show pretty much all by himself. Loved the "Dragon" show where he got a lot of screen time, even if most of it involved running around like a squealing rabbit.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:05 p.m. CST

    So, here's the pitch, Ron. Star Wars/Lord of the Rings type

    by Electric_Monk

    Ah, Willow, a film I had high hopes for, but once I saw it, I cringed. I must agree with this review, for everything she mentions are exactly the things I said about the film back in 1988. I never compared it with Lord of Rings, however. No, Star Wars was basically remade as Willow, and its failure can be directed towards Lucas for this retread and Ron Howard for falling under the spell of Lucas and directing it (on the other hand, the direction is good). Willow looked like a B film, but with an A film budget, just like Lucas

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Shadow Moon

    by Goggles_Pizano

    Been awhile since I saw the film, but I just finished the reading the last book of the trilogy. Mediocre fantasy, but it did hold my interest. It ain't "Wheel of Time" or "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn", but it beat the crap out of Eddings. For those of you who are Robert Jordan haters (or Eddings lovers), you may ignite your flamethrowers now.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 3:33 p.m. CST

    "I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived!"

    by XTheCrovvX

    Whoever it was above (i believe the man's name was BlckMgic) nailed my point. I count myself part of that underrated 80's generation of moviegoers(in my case, '82)....i happen to remember Labyrinth very well...a teenage Jennifer Connelly(dammit, she was cute even then), a BAD ASS David Bowie, and a bunch o' cool Muppets...hell yeah. I still watch the flick whenever i can catch it. I, regretfully, never saw Legend. The first horror i ever set eyes on was Cronenberg's 1986 version of The Fly(which, as ive gotten older, actually have come to love more than the Vincent Price original). The big two trilogies of my time were Indiana Jones and Back To The Future, both of which need, nay, DEMAND DVD box sets, like NOW(i can excuse Lucas and Spielberg on Indiana Jones for now, on account of burning needs for Episode II and an ultra badass AI DVD, but goddammit, Zemeckis, GET TO WORK!). The same goes for the other big magical film of my time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Which brings me right here to Willow. My dear Madam DuPont, whom i both respect and intellectually admire when it comes to her reviews, forgive my bluntness, but BACK OFF. You went after this film and DVD with a thesaurus full of poison from word one, love. ....I dunno about every place, but for the most part, i've been reading Corona's Test Pattern for my DVD reviews, and they have it nailed. There are two scores for each movie: one for the movie itself, one for the disc. Your review my dear seems more for the movie, not for the disc(s) as a whole, which is how its been with you in the past. And its for a rather foolish reason...attacking the film for unoriginality. Hey, let me tell ya, how much originality, tops, do you see in a year, nay, a DECADE of film? I mean, for every Fight Club or Dancer In The Dark or Pleasantville or Blair Witch Project, there's roughly 250 flicks every year that, if you look hard enough, have more than a few elements where you can say "Hey, they did that exact same thing in (insert name of revolutionary, but highly imitated film)!" In Willow's case, you attack it business wise, in which it seems your opinion is that Lucas needed more money, so he came up with this to kick up a couple million bucks while he works on Episode I. Hey, i can say that about a bunch of movies...that doesnt necessarily make it capitalist bullshit. Is Willow original?? In a few spots, yeah. But overall, no it ain't. But ya know what? That's ok. Very little is. It takes a big concerted effort to come up with something that will break the barriers of everything we know about a genre or story. It took Silence of the Lambs, and later Se7en, to redefine how murder/mysteries get made and thought of in the 90's. It took The Matrix to give martial arts a nice kick in the pants in this country again. It took the Blair Witch Project, love it or hate it, to make the general populace to consider independent film as something other than artsy-fartsy crap. Films like that come along, if you have to average it out, every 15 years. Long time to wait. Did Willow redefine everything we knew about fantasy? Nope. What it did was tell a great little swords and sorcery tale, with the help of some really cool special effects. Point black and period. Step back, quit hunting for the derivativeness, and enjoy is what you do with a film like this. And with my memories of being a 6 year old, sitting wide eyed in the Wellmont Theater in Montclair New Jersey, NOT giving a damn about how much Lucas ripped off from his own work, NOT worrying about Lord of the Rings being the source of all fantasy, for me, that task is easy. And my last comment, about the books, i never read them, but lets face it, lotsa crap gets made when you whore out your license to your property. Don't even get me started on the Ewoks and Droids cartoons. This post is now a rant, so now i go away. Revolution is my name...

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 3:46 p.m. CST

    The sacrifices this poor woman makes for us....

    by RobinP

    ....watching the Godawful "Willow" in any format is more than I can bear. Please....make it stop !!!!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Robert Jordan is as big a hack as George Lucas

    by StarUnlit

    The first 3 or 4 books of the Wheel of Time were fairly involving, but then the whole series just stalls! Gotta give Jordan credit though, never thought it would be possible to actually write so many hundreds and hundreds of pages, in which nothing happens. Want to read the only decent fantasy to come out in the past fifteen years? Check out A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George Martin. That man can write and is the only modern fantasy author not doing the Jordan rip off two step.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Willow didn't rip off LOTR or SW ...

    by Saetter

    It ripped off the same stories that Tolkien and Lucas did. Geez. You people really surprise me sometimes. Usually it's just mild shock and I ignore it. But this rant by miss du pont really irks me. Just because she's a "featured reviewer" she knows all. Hah. Go back and read your mythology and medieval liturature, Alex. You'll find "Luke/Willow/Frodo", "Han/Madmargigan/Strider", and Darth Vader/whatevertheguy'snameis/Sauruman" all over the place. Was Willow a great movie? No. I enjoyed it, but it was not great. But its faults don't lie in the "connections" to LOTR and SW. Myrddin

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Hey now...

    by EvilNight

    No snide comments about Eddings or I will have to get out me flamethrower. Jordan is long and boring... boil those down to three or four books and you'll have a good series, but I think he's going for the record of most pages in a single series (if he doesn't already have it). Try Melanie Rawn if you want size and substance in your books. Eddings is the king of cool characters, but his plots are lukewarm. When will somebody make Homeland into a movie?

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 4:08 p.m. CST

    AICN Comedy Central pilot

    by VarietyWriter

    Harry and his gang probably are not obliged to discuss the pilot and the status of a series due to contractural reasons. Nevertheless, I have a colleague who works for an audience research firm out in Century City and she says it's undergone testing. (Her company, which I decline to name, does audience testing for virtually every major broadcast and cable network show you watch.) Test audiences were confused by the AICN pilot. They weren't sure if it was supposed to be a straight-out parody of Hollywood TV magazine shows (ala "Jimmy Glick") or if it was supposed to be a more straightforward show, like Chris Wlyde's talk show. Basically, the pilot comes across like a talk show with "man on the (Hollywood) street" segments. It's supposed to be funny and irrevent (in a Kevin Smith-y sort of way) but it fails, as my friend summed it up. (I have not seen this pilot myself, but am curious about it like all of you.) Unfortunately, one of the problems with the pilot is that test audiences didn't click with Harry. Comedy Central was hoping for Harry and his posse to give off some kind of engaging-relationship-to-the-audience vibe, like the kind Chris Wlyde or comedian Dave Atel (who has a fun series on the network where he checks out a major city's nightlife) give off. (The producers were hoping of a "Drew Carey" or "Kevin Smith" type of wit from Harry.) But, sadly, it's just not there.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 4:45 p.m. CST

    The Aint It Cool show...

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    ...Sounds to me like a pilot that MTV is working on now, too, called BUZZ SITE. From what I've read, B-S sounds like a movie geek talk show with a young hip attitude right out of The Chris Wylde Show. Video segments are supposed to have moments where the host and his gang yuck it up on movie, TV series sets (like Buffy and Enterprise) and FX houses. The host is some young 20something guy who has a syndicated movie review show that airs on alternative radio stations. His sidekick is a girl, and sounds like a raver type (Hot Pocket bet that she's probably Really Cute). The show is executive produced by Chris Connelly (who does the movie news for MTV). When I read about this concept several months ago in Hollywood Reporter, I immediately thought the producers were inspired by movie geek websites (and not just this one).

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 5:03 p.m. CST

    So, because the oh-so important, and fakely named "Alexandra Dup

    by Smeg For Brains

    As this film has been around for many years, and has already gathered a large fan following, I don't think it is neccessary to put up this "review" of the DVD, which is actually just some ignoramus's attempt to put the film down. Obviously they saw the film before, so what point is there in reviewing a film that is loved by many and hated by them? Also, you could take almost any film even slightly related to the fantasy/adventure genre and point out how it resembles LOTR or Star Wars, or any other fantastic adventure story. It doesn't take a lot of brains to notice that things fundemental to the genre are often found in many differen't stories. This site is so amateurish.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Smeg For Brains.....(How Apt!)

    by EricAlan69

    Umm, yeah. 'Cause you know, the very basis of fantasy literature and filmed entertainment is having your protagonist be some sort of halfling.....yadda, yadda, yadda. See, I understand the point in doing so- it makes things easier to show how these 'little people' (Hobbit, Nelwyn, et. al.) are looked down upon by oh-so-smug humans, but are, of course, more innocent and true. THAT is a pretty common thematic device....the problem with 'Willow' is that it takes these basic plot devices from whole cloth, rather than adapting them more originally. 'Willow' ends up feeling like Lucas couldn't be bothered to do anything unique, and just tweaked a few plot points in LOTR and SW and hoped no one would notice. THAT's a problem. In 1988, I was DYING to see this movie, because I grew up on LOTR, SW, and the like, and I found it to be a pretty big disappointment at the age of 15....I watched it again on SciFi a few weeks ago, and it sure hasn't improved with age. It's a mildly entertaining diversion, but not much else. //e.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Oh, by the way....

    by EricAlan69

    The promotional ads for the DVD release of 'Willow' pretty much go out of their way to draw the lines between it and LOTR (and HP, too). Isn't it odd that this film's getting a re-release push on DVD to EXACTLY coincide with the release of FOTR and HP? Hmmmm.... //e.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 5:31 p.m. CST


    by RenoNevada2000

    Would you care to calrify your incredibly sexist comment or should we just continue to think you're an idiot?

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 6:16 p.m. CST

    The Two headed dragon...

    by Horus

    Has anyone noticed that the two headed dragon's throat.. is like some sort of prophecy of how George Lucas looks these days!!!If it had turned up in PM I'd have thought Phil tippet was taking the p*** out of George.Anyway,I didn't realise it was made five years after Jedi.I assumed it was just a short time after , as many of the FX suffer from the same , *hit and miss* feel as Jedi.The process photography on the otherwise cool and well animated{Phil T's the man!}two headed dragon , was pure *Rancor monster* {big blue line around it, colour shifts , from shot to shot etc} and like the rancor , half the time the dragon.. didn't even need to be superimposed!!??A fake section of wall behind the puppet would have looked so much better.For some reason satelite TV here in England, has been showing this film ,on what seems like a daily basis... And I have tried watching it , but it's just dreary , with way too much bad dialogue{mostly from the midgets} and a really forced *Star Wars* revisited , feel about it.Some of the costume designs are nice {by Artists Chris Achillio's and Moebious}But the villianess is poor and totally unthreatening.Jean Marsh seemed to be having an entire career based on playing witches at this point {Return to OZ, Dr Who} and this was her worste attempt.It really needed some some of Legends , *Darkness* type Demon as the villian...rather than an old woman ,from Upstairs downstairs!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 7:12 p.m. CST

    Well F**k it, I LOVED WILLOW!

    by Drath

    I did! I was like twelve years old when it came out, and living in a military base in the middle of Germany and home sick as hell to get back to the states, not to mention seriously wishing Lucas would make more Star Wars regardless of how Jedi ended, but when Willow came out I was in love! I had yet to really discover the Lord of the Rings(actually, I think I read them soon after because my father told me it was the originator of stuff like Willow and Star Wars to begin with). And now I feel like those little kids who loved Phantom Menace whenever I hear bitching about Willow. A "disappointment for a generation," huh? Well maybe that explains the reason Entertainment Weekly pitches snide bullshit at the movie whenver it can. Sure it feels like Dungeons and Dragons meets Star Wars lite, but Willow was welcome fun for me and always will be. It never fails to amuse me the way NO ONE ever notices that Madmartigen was practicually a Toshiro Mifune role right out of a Kurosawa movie(particularly Lucas's proclaimed favorite, 7 Samurai). It wasn't a completely successful homage, one who doesn't like Lucas could even call it a shameless rip off, but Willow was innocent escapist fun for me then, and I can enjoy it through nostalgia just fine. It's everyone elses loss, not mine. I'm glad I was young enough to enjoy it, and not in the middle of the "world revolves around me and fuck you if you don't kiss my feet" phase of generation X in the late '80s(gee, and the early '90s, and mid-90s, and shit, even late '90's and into this century)!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 7:58 p.m. CST

    I'm waiting for the uncut version...

    by Bad Guy

    You know, the one where Madmartigan has a beer and cheets on Willow. HA!!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:35 p.m. CST

    a fine review of the movie...

    by kojiro

    ...though Corona is a better place to for DVD feature reviews. But Hell, Ms. DuPont is the only reviewer anywhere I have yet to violently disagree with, so i'm not complaining. Question though. Why should't she review the movie? Perhaps I haven't seen it before, or perhaps (and this is a horrid thought for me) I saw it many years ago and the terrible mediocrity of it all has escaped me, leaving only the memory of Kilmer's excellent performance. Why I might have bought the damn thing if not for this review!----------------Hey, what's with all the WOT/Jordan bashing on the boards these last few days? Obviously he's not the most concise of writers but that's not really what he's going fopr now is it. He's making a history for that world of his and he's doing it in extreme detail. .

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Er...that's "Howard" the Duck (n/t)

    by tbrosz

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Willow on DVD (At least I think that's what this discussion

    by The Mauve Frog

    Did anybody else even pay the slightest attention to the DVD review we're talking about? Whether you liked the movie or not, the DVD sounds like it blows. I've been a huge Willow fan since it came out, and devoured the book as a kid. (BTW, the backstories for Madmartagen, Cherlendria (sp.), and Vohnkar that come out it the book rock. They are all much more complex and should have been included in the movie. In myth, it is the details that really individualize the story, not the plot. The novelization shows that this movie could have been as epic as Star Wars and LOTR with a litle work.) The only reason I can see for getting the DVD is a chance to see a beautiful movie in wide screen (a central reason for getting most DVD's, why the heck can't studios realize that every movie looks better in widescreen, sigh); Warwick Davis commentary doesn't do it for me, morphing tech doen't either. How about some Kilmer /Lucas /anybody worthwhile commentary? Weren't there any deleted scenes? No score commentary? As much as I enjoy the humor, fun plot, gorgeous scenery and fantastic fight scenes, I have no reason to go out and buy the DVD. Who cares if Ms. DuPont criticized the film, the DVD sounds like it sucks.

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 10:10 p.m. CST

    Yup, he's an idiot. Slashcode please!

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    AfroSheen, that is, which gives me yet another reason to call for a slashdot-like web log on this site! Come on, Harry, I wanna be able to set my preferences to +2 or above and never see porkboy's blathering or the "f1r5t p05t!" sub-vegetables or the occasional neo-nazi loser. Oh, and Ms. Dupont, ignore the bashers--they're just intimidated by all the big, multi-syllable words you use. It makes their widdle heads just burst!

  • Nov. 26, 2001, 11:53 p.m. CST

    Imagine Saving Private Ryan with midgets...wouldn't that hav

    by Slate0109

  • Nov. 27, 2001, 12:48 a.m. CST

    4 Words

    by Jiggletiddy

    Willow: a little perspective

  • Nov. 27, 2001, 4:33 p.m. CST

    "Help! Help! There's a Peck pointing an acorn at me!"

    by superninja

    I like this movie. It's about, oh, 10x better than the Phantom Menace. It has actual action and adventure. Not just pretty sets and Lucas jerking off to Jar Jar. The only annoying things in the movie are the Brownies, but the rest of it is pretty enjoyable.

  • Nov. 27, 2001, 4:36 p.m. CST

    "Help! Help! There's a Peck pointing an acorn at me!"

    by superninja

    I like this movie. It's about, oh, 10x better than the Phantom Menace. It has actual action and adventure. Not just pretty sets and Lucas jerking off to Jar Jar. The only annoying things in the movie are the Brownies, but the rest of it is pretty enjoyable.

  • Nov. 27, 2001, 5:57 p.m. CST

    You guys I think I have jawndus.

    by Elgyn6655321

  • Nov. 27, 2001, 6:39 p.m. CST

    Um... to EricAlan69

    by Smeg For Brains

    Who the fuck said anything about Halfling characters being an integral part of fantasy?! I said the examples that were brought up in this so called review to make Willow seem like a rip off of every other well known fantasy story to come before it could be used to criticize every other fantasy story out there. Willow is pretty far from being totally original in setting or ideas, but the only modern sword and sorcery fantasy that can claim that is the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. Sure Willow is nowhere in that league, but it is a fun movie. Not every fantasy film must set new standards in greatness. This "review" was just some poor sods way of trying to bring down a movie that a lot of people like, yet they for one reason or another don't. I highly doubt anyone interested in the Willow DVD is even slightly interested in what this unknown, fake named, "reviewer" thinks of the movie, nor th opinion of any other person who doesn't like the film (i.e. you)..... Oh, and congratulations on being the 1,347th person to make the oh-so clever, and original remark about my ID name! Especially as it is obvious how offended I would get, having chosen it myself. Well done! I guess I should have chosen something creative like JoeBob69.

  • Nov. 29, 2001, 4:37 p.m. CST

    He isn't a midget, you bitch...

    by Jackass

    He's a dwarve, not a midget. There's a "big" difference. Midgets are just short, normal people. Dwarves are disgusting people who have normal sized heads and cocks/tits and freakishly small bodies.