Disney+ Willow is a fair attempt to revive the 1980s classic film, but falls short on its aim to “Gen Z” the series up. Check out the details in my parents guide review.
Disney+ Willow drops its first few episodes on the streaming service today, November 30th. The series is a sequel to the classic 1980’s film Willow and brings back its original stars, Warwick Davis (Willow) and Joanne Whalley (Sorsha). The new series includes some newcomers to the franchise, including Christian Slater, Erin Kellyman, Ruby Cruz, and Ellie Bamber. Check out all the details in my parents guide review.
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Disney+ Willow Parents Guide
In Disney+ Willow: The story began with an aspiring magician from a Nelwyn village and an infant girl destined to unite the realms, who together helped destroy an evil queen and banish the forces of darkness. Now, in a magical world where brownies, sorcerers, trolls, and other mystical creatures flourish, the adventure continues, as an unlikely group of heroes set off on a dangerous quest to places far beyond their home, where they must face their inner demons and come together to save their world.
Disney+ Willow Age Appropriate Parents Guide
Let’s take a look at what parents need to know before letting their kids watch Disney+ Willow.
Language: Disney+ Willow contains some strong language, with profanity used throughout. Lookout words include: sh*t (used around 5 times throughout the series), a**, crap, hell, d*mn, d*mmit, idiot, and nincompoop.
Mature Content: The biggest concern for parents in the series is the violence it contains. Characters are shown in hand-to-hand combat, fighting with swords, stabbing, and using magic. Characters are shown being stabbed and dying, which may be triggering for some viewers. There is a kiss between two female characters, and another graphic scene shows a character getting vomited on.
The announcement that Disney and Lucasfilm were creating a Willow series on Disney+ had fans of the franchise ecstatic. The 1988 film, directed by Ron Howard and written by Bob Dolman, quickly became a cult-like classic and holds much nostalgia for many moviegoers. The medieval adventure of the underdog sorcerer named Willow (Warwick Davis) was a battle between good and evil, and the story continues in this new series, which is set 20 years after Willow saved baby Elora Danan. Luckily, for viewers who may not have seen the film since the 1980’s, the audience is treated to a quick recap of events. This recap brings back the nostalgia, as the recap is told with the same outdated visuals and effects and then brought to present time with more advanced technology and special effects. These little details of weaving in the old with the new are a brilliant attempt to draw in the fans of the original film into the new, modern Willow story.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in the Disney+ Willow series is the overall “feel” of the story, which is very disconnected from the original film. The fantasy world that surrounded the original Willow film was much of its allure, and while the series continues to visually build this world, it also falters by modernizing the characters and storylines in an effort to draw in a younger audience. The decision to “Gen Z” up the series results in the story totally losing its charm. The dialogue at times was cheesy, as the series isn’t sure if it wants to stick with the original fantasy “feel” one minute and then flip the script with modern drivel the next. Pick a lane and stick with it.
Disney+ Willow brings back some original cast members, including Warwick Davis (Willow) and Joanne Whalley (Sorsha), who both deliver and give strong performances, reminding viewers at times why the original film was such an ultimate success. Newcomers Erin Kellyman, Ruby Cruz, and Ellie Bamber, who play Jade, Kit, and Dove, were a fun addition, but the problem arises with the disconnect between old and new. One of the best performances was given by Christian Slater, who “gets” the fantasy tone of the series while also landing the jokes, which seem to be missing from a lot of the series.
Disney+ Willow series could have easily been made into a film, as the pacing is off and the series drags at times. There are many “big reveals” and some “twists” that viewers will enjoy, but with the lengthy series, these twists do not seem to hit as well because of the drag and would have had a better effect in a faster moving film. It’s always a gamble when studios start messing with classics in an attempt to bring them into the current. I understand they want to appeal to those enamored with the original while also drawing in new viewers, but the stark contrast between today and thirty-plus years ago cannot be understated.