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Willow Blu-ray Review

willow-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French, Spanish (Castilian), German, Italian, Japanese DTS 5.1, Spanish (Latino) Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latino), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG
  • Discs: 1 (1  x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 126 Mins.
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 12, 2013
  • List Price: $24.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Willow-BD_03

Before The Lord of the Rings made it to the big screen, before Harry Potter was a household name, and before Game of Thrones was a successful series for HBO, director Ron Howard and producer George Lucas brought this sword-and-sorcery fantasy adventure to theaters. Willow, which borrowed heavily from such classics as Snow White, Gulliver’s Travels, and even the biblical story of Moses, was a hodgepodge of fantasy outlines that was a box office disappointment for Howard. Thankfully, in the hands of such an adept director, the film managed to keep its head above water just enough to be a somewhat entertaining affair that would garner a large enough cult following over the years to keep it in the public consciousness (and warrant this fantastic restoration to Blu-ray).

The story is of a miracle baby born whom evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) wants to capture and dispose of because it is prophesied the child will bring about her doom and the aspiring wizard who must keep the baby from harm. It falls upon the little person Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), to whom the child comes one day floating down a river, to protect the baby from the queen. Along with the help of a swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), who’s somewhat of a cad, and tiny forest people, the aspiring sorcerer Willow sets out to return the baby to her own people while protecting her from the Queen.

The film’s special effects, courtesy of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, especially the morphing, were rather cutting edge for the time, but, like with most things, they seem rather clunky by today’s standards. On the whole, the film seems rather “quaint” to use Howard’s own term, by today’s standards. Even as the film does maintain a light mood and humorous tone, the action and sense of adventure is complicated too many times by a confused storyline. It is also rather dark, somewhat morose, and certainly violent in spurts (at one point wild beasts attack a cradle), making it a bit too heavy for the younger crowds it seems to be aiming for most of the time.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Willow-BD_01

Willow’s 35mm source has been beautifully for this 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition arriving with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement. The image is rich in midtones and detail, with a textured, three-dimensional appearance. A nice, natural, thin layer of grain imparts an organic, film-like appearance, and the shadowy sequences are wonderfully nuanced. This is certainly one of the stronger catalogue releases I have seen of late.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Willow-BD_02

The sound has also been nicely spruced up here, with the English soundtrack being offered up in two options, a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The former is the preferred way to experience the film as it has splendid balance and ambience, robust low frequencies, clean dialogue, and tasteful use of the surround channels for more discrete effects, such as birds chirping and so forth. The lossy Dolby 2.0 mix, while it is also rather spacious in sound – surprisingly so, I might add – shows some issues with boxiness and clipping in the dialogue during louder passages.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Willow-BD_04

Ron Howard, Warwick Davis, and Dennis Muren are brought back for an hour’s worth of production featurettes and deleted scenes commentary, which is a boon for fans of this film.

The supplements:

  • Willow: Deleted Scenes with Ron Howard (1080p/24; 00:12:32)
  • The Making of an Adventure with Ron Howard (1080p/24; 00:23:39)
  • From Morf to Morphing with Dennis Muren (1080i/60; 00:17:24)
  • Willow: An Unlikely Hero – Personal Video Diary of Warwick Davis (1080p/24; 00:10:53)
  • Matte Paintings (1080p/24; 00:01:09)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Willow-BD_05

This hit an miss fantasy adventure from Ron Howard has its moments, but it cannot hold its own against the powerhouse fantasy films of today. Still, for those who grew up with Willow, this is an excellent edition on Blu-ray.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B000Y5JFNE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Willow - Widescreen 2 Pack AC3 Dolby Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Willow on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Willow-BD_07

Willow-BD_08

Willow-BD_09

Willow-BD_10

Willow-BD_11

Willow-BD_12

Willow-BD_13

Willow-BD_14

[amazon-product]B000Y5JFNE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Willow - Widescreen 2 Pack AC3 Dolby Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Willow on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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