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New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Was a Perfectly Average Streaming Series…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

With its season finale, Willow revealed that it was basically the statistical mean of Disney’s streaming shows built around existing intellectual property, even more than their Marvel of Star Wars shows. At various points in the season, Willow felt more like a checklist of familiar narrative beats than it did a cohesive story, and that was particularly true of the season finale, with its non-deaths ands its beams of multi-colour energy.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Found Itself Adrift “Beyond the Shattered Sea”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

One of the both interestign and frustrating aspects of Willow is the way in which the show feels very much like an archetypal streaming show. It hits all of the marks and rhythms of the emerging medium, particularly in how it structures its story. There are several points in the season where the larger mechanics of the season arc become transparent. Wildwood was one such example, and Beyond the Shattered Sea is another. The second-to-last episode of the season very quickly entangles itself if doing all the necessary set-up for the looming season finale.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Finds Itself With “Prisoners of Skellin”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

The sixth episode of the season struggles to recover some of the ground lost during the season’s fifth episode. Wildwood slowed the series to a standstill in order to run through a checklist of serialised streaming television tropes, in a mechanical and unengaging fashion. Prisoners of Skellin has the burden of getting the show moving again, in a way that is often clumsy and inelegant. That said, Prisoners of Skellin is an episode that has some measure of charm to it, in large part due to a winning guest performance from Christian Slater.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Got Lost in the Wildwood…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

With Willow officially past the midpoint of its first season, the show hits a sizable bump in the road. Wildwood is the first episode of the show that feels purely functional rather than narratively engaging on its own terms. It’s a very mechanical piece of television, with the plot grinding to a halt so the series can run down a checklist of character and plot beats that it needs to articulate for the audience before moving any further. It does a lot of necessary place-setting, but stalls the season and the show around it.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Willow” Gently Plays with Fantasy Tropes…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

It is too much to call Willow a deconstruction or a subversion of classic fantasy tropes. Certainly, the show is often a celebration of the trappings of high fantasy, and a much more old-fashioned take on the genre than contemporary shows like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power or House of the Dragon. At the same time, the series is written with an understanding of the tropes and conventions of the genre, and a willingness to play with those ideas in a way that deepens and explores its own themes. Given that this is a show about divorce, Willow eagerly dives into familiar fantasy tropes about blood and lineage.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Willow” as a Show About Divorce…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Willow is very obviously a show steeped in the fantasy and the blockbusters of the eighties, reflecting the originl film on which it is based. However, the show is rooted much  more film in that era than it might appear. As the show approaches its middle point, it becomes clear that showrunner Jonathan Kasdan has built Willow as an extended metaphor for familial dissolution, tapping into the themes of divorce and separation that permeated so much pop culture during the decade.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Irish Independent Column! On “Willow” and Disney’s Fantasy Pitch…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Willow on Disney+ this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the show means for the Disney brand, and why it is so important to the company going forward.

The past couple of decades have seen an explosion in fantasy film and television: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. However, studios have quickly discovered that audiences aren’t necessarily enthusiastically engaged with fantasy, struggling to connect with the genres. Studios like Disney have invested millions trying to tap into that audience, with numerous high-profile failures. Willow represents the latest attempt by Disney to craft a live action fantasy universe with a built-in fanbase, and the company is using the same playbook that it did with Star Wars.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “We Finally Have An Excuse To Re-Watch Willow”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for the ninth episode. It was a light enough week for film news, so we talked about Disney’s new content warnings on some its older and more dated classics, the announcement that there was a Willow television series coming, and discussed the latest version of The Witches.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.