Sometimes nostalgia isn’t enough to get you through a movie. Revisiting a film you had been fond of in your youth after a decade or more can, and quite often does, prove to be a major disappointment. Such was the case for me when I revisited The Last Action Hero a year or two back– a film that, in my more formative years, really spoke to the budding cinephile in me who wanted little more than to climb into the movies myself. And so I’ve learned over time to approach nostalgic films with a good deal of skepticism. Doing so offers the possible benefits of 1) softening the blow of discovering that one of my former favorite films is in fact a piece of crap, or 2) making it all-the-more pleasant when a film from my youth turns out to be a genuinely good movie. Fortunately, revisiting 1988’s Willow upon its Blu-ray release from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment earlier this month, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I found that it falls into the latter category, thereby justifying my childhood love of it. This isn’t to say it’s perfect, by any means. But it sure is fun.
Now, I’m not going to waste time here summarizing the plot of Willow. I mean, it’s a George Lucas-produced, Ron Howard-directed picture that’s been out for 25 years now. If you don’t know what it is by this point, just buy it or Netflix it. Seriously. Where have you been? Suffice it to say that if you haven’t seen it or simply haven’t seen it in a while that it’s got that perfect combination of a simple, intelligible plot, exciting action, engaging characters, and all-around great performances from a phenomenal cast. Which reminds me, somebody needs to bring Val Kilmer back to mainstream pictures ASAP. I love that guy.
And, oh, the special effects in Willow! The miniatures and stop motion creatures are wonderful. Who doesn’t love stop motion? The practical make-up effects are terrific. And the green (or more probably, blue) screening, by comparison, is painfully obvious and doesn’t quite work. But isn’t that just the way a nostalgic film should look where special effects are concerned– phenomenal in some ways and wildly outdated in others? That’s how I like my 80s sci-fi/fantasy pictures to look anyway.
The film’s HD transfer looks and sounds every bit as phenomenal as you’d expect a Lucasfilm Production to be on Blu-ray. What’s more, it’s accompanied by a decent array of special features, including a vintage making-of documentary, deleted scenes hosted by Ron Howard, a featurette about the film’s special effects with visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, a matte painting montage, and a terrific interview with Warwick Davis that features excerpts from his personal, on-set, video diary. If, like me, you too have fond memories of the picture, I strongly suggest you do yourself a solid and pick up Fox’s Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Willow immediately.