Friday, 25 September 2015
By the late 80s the financial failure of films like Krull, Dragonslayer and Legend had so soured Hollywood on the fantasy genre that even George Lucas struggled to find financing for such projects (admitedly, Lucas had also done himself no favours with 1986's Howard the Duck).
I'd make the argument that the failure of the three aforementioned movies had more to do with them being deeply flawed films than with their genre (Sorry, Krull/Dragonslayer fans: I like them too, but they are deeply flawed). The main problem with that argument is that Willow is also deeply flawed.
Let's start with the premise, which is pure Tolkein-with-the-runes-filed-off: there's a McGuffin that can bring about the downfall of the Evil Tyrant, and said McGuffin circumstantially ends up in the hands of a notHobbit from the notShire. Lucas's innovations: the McGuffin is a baby, and the Evil Tyrant is a woman.
NotFrodo ... sorry, "Willow", sets off to find a human guardian for the baby. Which is when notHanSolo ... sorry "Madmartigan" ... comes into the picture. This rascal with a heart of gold will (at first very reluctantly) help Willow protect the baby, engage in one of the worst executed and problematic screen romances this side of Attack of the Clones, and generally handle all the action hero duties.
Lucas also wedges in a pair of bickering brownies as transparent droid expies, in case the recycled Star Wars-isms of the script weren't already frequent enough. Either Lucas (who wrote the story) or his screen-writer also find time to wedge in some scatalogical humour. It becomes ever easier to see where Jar Jar Binks came from.
The script has some other serious flaws: time management is a big one - both in terms of pacing and in terms of time clearly moving at different speeds in supposedly simultaneous events - while the defeat of the Evil Tyrant is one half clever trick (which I am okay with) and one half "convenient bolt of lightning from the sky suddenly zaps her" (which I am not okay with - and it's not a metaphorical "bolt of lightning", for the record, that's literally what happens).
Willow isn't just "not good": it doesn't even manage to be endearingly bad.