He’s back! Yes, after years of rumours and potential sequel ideas floating around on the internet, Willow Ufgood is back to save us all from the forces of darkness.
When we last met our titular character (played by Warwick Davis) in the 1988 movie, he and his friend, the roguish mercenary Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), were joined by formidable warrior Princess Sorsha (Joanne Whaley) to protect a young child who was destined to bring down the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda.
Set many years later, the new Disney+ series, also titled Willow, introduces the audience to a new set of young characters: Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk), Prince Graydon (Tony Revolori), Jade (Erin Kellyman), and Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel). It’s revealed that Willow had once predicted that evil would return, only to have his worries fall on deaf ears. Now that premonition has come to pass, Sorsha’s son Prince Airk is kidnapped – and it’s up to this new ragtag group to work together, find the legendary sorcerer Willow and save Airk before it’s too late.
Willow is a great continuation of this magical Lucasian story, with writer Jon Kasdan’s love for the original movie deeply ingrained through the DNA of this new show. But he’s not afraid to add a modern flair to the story, which I think will deeply resonate with a whole new audience who didn’t originally grow up with this movie.
Particularly with this new and extremely talented young cast, who add freshness to the show while retaining the whimsical nature of the original film. I want to highlight Ruby Cruz’s Princess Kit, one of my favourite parts of the premiere. While having a badass female warrior-princess isn’t new for a Willow story, Ruby manages to perfectly embrace her role as the daughter of Madmartigan. Her performance is so perfectly Val Kilmer’esque you won’t doubt their characters are related for a second.
She also shines when acting opposite the exceptional Erin Kellyman, who finally gets even more of a chance to shine as Jade. It was also a pleasant surprise to see these characters share a kiss, giving us one of the first examples of an LGBTQ+ relationship in a Lucasfilm project. About time!
Warwick Davis slips easily back into his role as Willow, slightly wearier with age and the burden of prophecy but still the kind-natured hero we last saw in the original movie. But this time, there’s an extra-familial connection thanks to the performance of Annabelle Davis, actress and Warwick’s daughter, playing Willow’s daughter from the original movie. Annabelle is a fantastic actor, but it’s particularly sweet to watch father and daughter act off against each other with true tenderness and love.
There’s also plenty of comic relief, thanks to some hilarious performances from Chadha-Patel’s Boorman, a thief/rogue who leads the group through this journey, albeit apprehensively. There’s a specific scene featuring horses which had the entire crowd laughing out loud at the premiere screening. He’s definitely going to be a fan-favourite character going forward.
But the heart of the show relies on Ellie Bamber’s Dove, who is the Luke Skywalker of this new story – a plucky hero from low down in society who finds themselves at the centre of the battle against evil. Ellie’s fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her appear in more projects going forward. That’s a star to look out for.
Overall, Disney+’s Willow captures the magic from the original movie but also modernises itself to appeal to a brand-new audience, particularly through the use of the young cast members who are all individually brilliant. It’s a great start to a new adventure, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!