Critics Consensus

State-of-the-art special effects and an appealing performance from Warwick Davis can't quite save Willow from its slow pace and generic story.



Total Count: 52


Audience Score

User Ratings: 240,750
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Movie Info

Though Willow was one of director Ron Howard's few box-office disappointments, it definitely deserves a second look. At once an epic celebration and a gentle spoof of the sword-and-sorcery genre, the film concerns the efforts by little person Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) to protect a sacred infant from the machinations of a wicked queen (Jean Marsh). One source book has assessed the picture as a combination of The Ten Commandments and Snow White. This is true enough, except that neither one of those properties offered such offbeat casting choices as Billy Barty and Jean Marsh. Executive producer George Lucas has (through the conduit of screenwriter Bob Dolman) added elements of his own Star Wars saga to the stew. The results are generally satisfactory, though the film is sometimes weighed down by too much plot, and the action sequences may not be suitable for very young children. Incidentally, this is the film where co-star Val Kilmer met his future wife Joanne Whalley. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Willow

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (26)

  • If it evaporates from memory with the airiness of a bubble bath, at least it leaves a friendly glow and a sense of a magical world lovingly evoked.

    Dec 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • There isn't a single major character in the film who is engaging.

    Dec 6, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Willow exchanges the high-tech gleam of the Star Wars universe for the low-tech look of a Tolkienesque world, but otherwise it's business as usual.

    Dec 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • It takes forever for the story to get started, and once it does it holds few surprises.

    Dec 6, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Willow feels like the kind of movie that might have worked considerably better on the printed page.

    Dec 6, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Willow is medieval mishmash from George Lucas, a sort of 10th-century Star Wars tossed together with a plethora of elements taken from numerous classic fables.

    Jul 9, 2014 | Full Review…

    Jane Galbraith

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Willow

  • May 31, 2013
    Beautiful Little Masterpiece !
    Shawn M Super Reviewer
  • May 06, 2012
    From George Lucas and Ron Howard comes the beloved fantasy classic, Willow. The tale follows an aspiring sorcerer named Willow Ufgood who embarks on a quest to save a child of prophecy from the evil Queen Bavmorda. Warwick Davis, Val Kilmar, and Joanne Whalley all give good performances; especially Davis, for whom this would become a seminal role. The story is pretty derivative (especially of Star Wars) but the characters are quite interesting and a lot of fun. However, the special effects are rather dated, which weakens the film somewhat. But, James Hornerâ(TM)s whimsical score keeps the film moving and gives it a strong fantasy theme. Willow is an epic, magical adventure thatâ(TM)s fun for all ages.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2012
    Willow is a movie that really gets overshadowed by other much better Fantasy films of the 80's (The Princess Bride, Labyrinth) but still manages to be a fun gem of a Sword and Sorcery movie. This movie follows a Nelwyn (Dwarf) sorcerer-in-training named Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) who is tasked in protecting a small baby prophesized to defeat and evil Queen named Bavmorda (Jean Marsh). He must leave his small village to embark on this quest. Along the way, Willow meets an interesting cast of allies including the down on his luck warrior Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), the Queen's daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), an old wizard named Raziel (Patricia Hayes) and two Brownies named Vonkhar (Phil Fondacaro) and Rool (Kevin Pollack), an almost fairly like race of little people. I think this film is lacking in the whimsicality of the actual fantasy world. Look at more recent imaginings like Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson) and you will see what I mean. The actual world just seems devoid of life. Good performances from Davis and Kilmer make this film quite interesting, but can't save it from it's rather slow paced plot. The film's highlight for me is the soundtrack (James Horner), which in my opinion is really underrated. Not even an academy nomination? They really dropped the ball in my opinion. Overall a decent fantasy film, and I can see how many people would love it. For me, it's a fun watch but nothing to write home about. 3/5.
    Brendan L Super Reviewer
  • Jan 14, 2012
    Willow is undeniably cute and provides decent entertainment, but the story is too cliched and unoriginal to succeed.
    Matt P Super Reviewer

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