Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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Over twenty years after the defeat of Queen Bavmorda in the movie Willow, six adventurers set out on a dangerous rescue mission. Accompanied by the legendary sorcerer Willow himself, they must journey to far-off places and face their inner demons in order to defeat a great evil.

This review relates to season 1

I don’t even remember how we decided to watch this show, but I do remember being on board with it way before anyone else started enjoying it.

This show isn’t good but it’s fun. You just have to give it a couple of episodes to figure out what it wants to do. The biggest struggle with Willow is that the writers don’t seem to fully know what direction they want to go in from the start. The first episodes are played relatively straight, or at least the comedy is so subtle that it’s hard to tell if the funny parts were intended to be funny, or just unintentionally bad – and thus funny. On the whole, the plot is pretty weak and the writing is mediocre. The cast do their best with what they are given, but even a good actor can’t make a bad story shine.

However, maybe three episodes in the writers seem to let loose a little. They start to lean into the humour of the show, and boy they lean hard. Surprisingly, it really works! The cast is very funny and suddenly, it’s like you’re watching a different show. I only wish they’d started the show off as more of a comedy. I can very easily imagine someone turning Willow off after an episode or two and not managing to even reach the point where the show starts to shine. It still won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy light-hearted fantasy like, for instance, BBC Merlin, you may come to really enjoy Willow. If you make it past the first couple of episodes, that is.

This review relates to season 1

Okay, Willow the series… Where to start? I’ve only watched the Willow movie a few times in my life, twice when I was much younger, and one time a few years ago. All in all, these were not very memorable experiences, except for a rather traumatizing scene in which people were transformed into pigs. As such, I don’t really have any nostalgia for the Willow universe that I took with me when I started watching the series.

The quality of this series really depends on what you expect out of it. Of course, this is true for everything in life, but Willow takes it to another level. If you’re looking for a fantasy world full of deep and unique lore, interesting mysteries and a gripping plot, Willow is sure to disappoint. Though it tries to be this a few times, it simply isn’t. No amount of loredropping will fix this.

What then, should you watch Willow for? Well, I’d say the surrealistic shenanigans of its characters, led by Boorman, who is portrayed by Amar Chadha-Patel. Though each of Willow’s characters (in theory) has the potential to be interesting, the writing isn’t good enough to do something with it. And this is fine. The humoristic performance of the actors is the only thing that makes this series worth a watch. Bonus points for including a queer relationship, though – I know how difficult Disney can be in this regard.

Willow is an excellent series to watch with friends. However, I doubt if it also holds up when you’re watching it solo.

This review relates to season 1

Sometimes you watch something, and you just can’t wrap your head around why it was made, how it was made, how this got past quality control. Willow is like that. Mostly.

The first three episodes of this series try to take themselves seriously, and that results in some trash-tier one star material that I would not recommend to anyone. Then it seemed like the writers/directors realised that their setup for the first three episodes wasn’t going to cut the mustard, so they scratched that plan and went with a comedy satire on the fantasy genre instead – but apparently didn’t want to do reshoots of the material they already had, so they kept those terrible episodes at the start. It boggles the mind, and unsurprisingly, Willow is being eviscerated in reviews (including this one…).

In a way, it is a pity because the parody-approach works much better. The way the series is set up now, though, the shift of tone results in a jarring juxtaposition with the first episodes and as a viewer, for a while you’re utterly confused as to what Willow is trying to be. By the end, the series has (mostly) found its niche as a comedy with some heartfelt moments, but even then it is haunted by terribly inconsistent production values and the awful choices made in the first few episodes (and Warwick Davis’ complete absence of acting. I’m not saying he is acting poorly, he is just literally not acting at all. He reads his lines at the camera wearing a costume. That’s it.).

I had fun watching Willow with the other curators, but I would have never watched past the first episode, much less the entire first half of the series, to get to the decent (dare I say… good?) parts if I would have had to watch it for its own sake. I can see that there will be people who will enjoy it for the moments – and it has its moments – but if you want to watch Willow, I think it should be the kind of show that you love to hate together. Don’t take it seriously from the start, but watch it to see the train wreck itself in slow motion (and for the few moments of brilliant humour from Amar Chadha-Patel’s character Boorman).

Willow gets a begrudging two stars from me that it kind of doesn’t deserve, but then Boorman is funny and the penultimate episode is cool. I didn’t want to be too harsh. Perhaps I should’ve been.

I am so confused by this show. It started out as a generic young adult fantasy series, and not a particularly good one. The main characters are whiny teens with a level of self-obsession fitting for their age, and the overall plot will not win any originality prizes. If I had not been watching the show together with the other curators, I genuinely do not think I would have made it past the first episode.

But after a few episodes, some hilarious scenes started to appear which seemed completely at odds with the tone of the rest of the show. These scenes were not only funny but also absurdistic in a way the rest of the show is not. The contrast is so big that I kept wondering what the show-runners were intending.

Confusion aside, these few scenes were truly great. I wish the creators had leaned into this more and had chosen this tone for the whole series, because then I think it could have been a really good show.

As it stands, two stars is all I can give it.

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