The new Willow fantasy series, a sequel to the 1988 movie based on a George Lucas story, made its debut on Disney Plus Wednesday, and it's getting mostly positive reviews. British actor Warwick Davis—who was 18 years old when the movie came out—returns as a sorcerer from a village of little people. Ron Howard, who directed the movie, is among the series' executive producers. The series was created by Jonathan Kasdan, son of frequent Lucas collaborator Lawrence Kasdan. What critics are saying:
- The series "goes to more, and more interesting, places, with fuller characterizations, less predictable plot lines and sharper jokes," writes Robert Lloyd at the Los Angeles Times. At times, the series is "legitimately a comedy," he writes. "Temperamentally, it’s more Princess Bride than Lord of the Rings, with a hint of Monty Python in the way it sets modern dialogue and attitudes against a medieval backdrop."
- The original movie wasn't a huge success, compared to Howard and Lucas' other projects, but that's a good thing for the series, writes Joshua Alston at Variety. "Fandoms are fiercely protective of their respective mythologies, but in the case of Willow, there are too few fans of the film to revolt against a new creative direction," he writes. Kasdan has built a new world on top of Lucas' material, reaching the "perfect balance of reverence and irreverence," he writes.
- Daniel Fienberg at the Hollywood Reporter isn't convinced that the "relentless snark and winkiness" of the new series is an improvement on the "earnestly corny fantasy" of the movie—but he thinks the "solidly down-the-middle entertainment" is good enough to satisfy fans and amuse newcomers. Nobody ever said the action-comedy-fantasy balance was easy ... but when it works, Willow works fine," he writes.
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