Disney+ Good Enough Sequel – The Hollywood Reporter

My new motto when approaching Disney+ originals is “Look, not all of them are Andor.”

It is not Andor, which recently ended its first season, is necessarily Disney+’s best original, but it’s the first Disney+ original to give the impression of doing something really dangerous — or at least really real. challenge — within the confines of the people-pleasing media giant. Most Disney+ originals tend to align themselves neatly with existing properties (even WandaVision at its core is a prelude to a big screen Sorcerer Supreme adventure) or actively spoiling fans of beloved, however mediocre titles. But Andor emerged and used its Star Wars framework to critically explore the mediocrity of evil, the corrosive impact of capitalism, and the encroachment of authoritarianism. It’s unbranded and bold and not something I even recommend Disney try on a regular basis.


Key point

While there are some odd choices, it delivers mid-way fun.

Broadcast date: Wednesday, November 30 (Disney+)
Cast: Warwick DavisRuby CruzErin KellymanEllie BamberTony RevoloriAmar Chadha-PatelDempsey Bryk
Develop By: Jonathan Kasdan

Consider Willowthen, back to the Disney+ system that brought us shows based on Magnificent Ducks and Turner & Hoochplus a sequel to A trick and enchanted. Adapted by Jonathan Kasdan from Ron Howard’s beloved 1988 fantasy film, Willow certainly mid-range entertainment that aims to provide memorable pleasure to audiences already in love with the property, with a few updated ideas and some polished and polished special effects. It was hit hardest when it didn’t quite capture the tone and tone of the original film, but just as its successes weren’t exactly dazzling, its failures weren’t too serious.

I was 10 years old when Willow appeared and I responded to its message that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. The series is more akin to a silly Saturday afternoon series set in a fantasy setting rather than a melodramatic or operatic fantasy powered by a Ladyhawke or Maze. Warwick Davis is made to be the perfect overlooked protagonist, Val Kilmer expertly portrays Harrison Ford-ian as a rogue and Joanne Whalley as a sassy little girl.

Willow can feel like a generational limited curiosity – even at the time, the special effects alone ranged from “cute effect” to “immediately corny” – but the film’s unexpected importance to FX’s spectacular effect reservation dog offers a reminder that it still has a place in the hearts of many. Plus, like Ron Howard-directed stories about rural dark-skinned girls gaining invisible confidence and becoming digital quacks through protecting newborn babies. , Willow beat snot out Hillbilly Elegy.

The eight-episode season begins years after Willow Ufgood (Davis), an aspiring shaman, helps swarming mercenary Madmartigan (Kilmer) and conflicted warrior princess Sorsha (Whalley) save Elora Danan, the child Baby is destined to save a kingdom.

Sorsha is ruling Tir Asleen with her children — Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Airk (Dempsey Bryk) — until Elora Danan, somewhere safe and anonymous, can rise. Kit is following in her mother’s footsteps, training to fight her best friend — or more?!? – Jade (Erin Kellyman). As a good-natured cad in a new relationship with a good kitchen maid (Ellie Bamber’s Dove), Airk is more like his father, Madmartigan, whose absence is an important plot point.

When Airk is kidnapped and ominous omens appear, Kit, Jade, and Dove must embark on a mission. They’re accompanied by a thief looking for redemption (Amar Chadha-Patel’s Boorman) and Kit’s timid future husband (Tony Revolori’s Graydon), but what a greedy team relationship is. This aspirant really needs — to be protected, inspired, and explained — to be a sorcerer. And the only witch left in the land? You guessed it: Willow!

Critics have been sent seven hours Willow episodes and possibly a sixth, there’s something like a special direction for the series. But the bulk of the first season was about “Hey, remember that thing you liked from a piece of intellectual property? This is a lot of references to it in a structure we already know you like!” Veins promote completely too much contemporary storytelling. So once again, the forces of darkness are rising and Elora Danan – whose identity is revealed very early on – is the light, and once again Willow is in doubt and must learn to believe in herself. . Callbacks are all over the place, and the show seems convinced that you’ll actively explode in your spot at the mere mention of Cherlindrea’s wand or the Test of the Fingers or the head-faced General Kael or those Brownies – little people with a distinctive French-Canadian accent – who bothered this reviewer even as a child. Hints of James Horner’s theatrical score are central to James Newton Howard’s musical series, to cheerful effect.

However, with that meta-spirit, it was an odd decision to let half of the characters in Willow speak as if they were postmodern refugees from the last century. Saved by Bell restart. Plucky Kit doesn’t sound like an aspiring fighter but more like someone planning to host a podcast about warriors. Grouchy Boorman plays as Roy Kent from Ted Lasso as one Television is not a pity repacker. Damn, there’s a disruptor — a bridge, not a life — who says things like “Anyway!” The original film is hilarious to the point of absurdity, but it’s almost completely devoid of irony – especially compared to things like Princess Bridee — and this incessant wink and slyness shows the fear that audiences can no longer take their silly fantasy stories seriously (this should be news for fans of the film). by Amazon Lord of the Rings series). Or as Boorman put it, “Your generation barely pays attention to epic stories.” Is that correct?

Willow often forget that it’s purely meant to be an epic story, so Boorman isn’t sarcastic about it Willow is – he’s sarcastic about what it’s supposed to be. The first two episodes (masterfully directed but without the real flair of Stephen Woolfenden) are a streamlined reordering of the works, while episodes six and seven (directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and Jamie Childs) There’s funky action and some real laughs, but the episodes in between are just a mess. There are long passages where the characters just sit around grumbling while Willow tries to train who turns out to be Elora Danan. There was an entire episode where the action shot exclusively in the dark was captured so badly that it almost made Dragon House visually coherent. Then there is an over-reliance on hoax whereby a magical place, item, or potion causes each character to dream, hallucinate, or fantasize about something related to inner insecurities. in theirs – a respectable hoax, for sure, but a game that shouldn’t appear in nearly half of a series’ episodes.

No one ever said that balancing action-comedy-fantasy was easy — if that was the case, every show would be easy. magician — but when it works, Willow works well. It can’t Lord of the Ringsbut Willow looks epic and the special effects are well done, which can’t always be said for the movie. With the new gay trend and racism, WillowThe ‘s themes of overlooked heroes, false first impressions, and the untapped power of the underdog’s resilience are even stronger.

It’s all delivered by an often-favorite cast played by Davis, whose dreary and weary performance provides a contrast to his youthful and cheerful character in the film. Willow It’s not long on emotional highlights but there are early scenes between Davis and his daughter Annabelle, playing Mims, Willow’s daughter, that really brought tears to my eyes.

I liked Kit/Jade’s complicated relationship and Cruz and Kellyman did it well, even though neither of the characters were that interesting. Bamber gives Dove a pleasant silliness, though I don’t see why her American accent makes some of her better lines overshadowed. Chadha-Patel is actually hilarious at times, making brusque comments about everything around her, despite Boorman’s inconsistent writing style. Yes, there’s plenty of forewarning, and plenty of cameos too, including a comedic shot of Christian Slater as a mysterious prisoner.

Still a work in progress when it comes to tone, pacing and characters, of Disney+ Willow offers enough of what matters to fans and will provide basic level entertainment for some curious newbies. Could there be richer, more complex stories to tell in this world? Sure. But not everything needs to be Andor.

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