Willow Review: Ensemble Fantasy Disney+ Show Actually Lets Itself Be Fun

Disney+'s new Willow series presents a fairly unique opportunity in the world of "legacyquels," which is to say the entertainment media landscape of today. Despite supposedly being more bankable, recapturing the magic of a previous property requires identifying the essence of its success, so that, in the attempt to strike the right balance of nostalgia and irreverence, the franchise's new stewards don't accidentally throw the baby out with the bathwater. This becomes a nightmare for something like Star Wars, which is loved for many different (and sometimes conflicting) reasons, but what about Willow? Far less precious an object, partially by design – as seriously as it takes the battle between good and evil, it also centers on a character whose path to heroism was to fake it 'til he made it. There is room to play here and be appreciated for it, and showrunner Jonathan Kasdan and his team take advantage. While its tone is a struggle to decipher at first, Willow settles into an ensemble show willing to let itself be fun, sending up the conventions of high fantasy without losing sight of why people love the genre in the first place.

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