I sat watching the first few minutes of the first (yes there is another one to come) Ewok movie and I started to wonder what my life had become. The Ewoks have divided the opinions of many Star Wars fans, with most agreeing that the inclusion of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi was just to make and sell more toys for the younger audiences. For me, I didn’t mind the Ewoks, I thought it was pretty cool that a primitive tribe was able to help take down the Galactic Empire, even if they were very cutesy-annoying at times.
A year after Return of the Jedi, a made-for-TV film based on the Ewoks of the Forest Moon was released. Now, this is clearly a Kids film, and I will give credit that at least Lucas didn’t push for a money grabbing theatrical release in the US, like he would later do with The Clone Wars. However, although I did sit down to this film with very low expectations and the knowledge that this was made for children, and being the age of 21, I am not the target audience for this movie.
Right from the off, I would never let my Kids watch this film, not unless I wanted to scar them for life. Why? Because the Ewoks are freaking terrifying! Their eyes look like they’re staring into your soul, their faces never move throughout the film and their mouths remain perfectly still except for the few times their tongues poke out when they are “talking.” I know, being a made-for-TV movie, that the film was probably made on a budget of $10, but come on what happened to all the Ewok costumes from Episode VI? This is a film for Kids, the aim is to appeal to them, not give them nightmares. Some of the freakiest moments come from when the film decides to torture you with a close up on an Ewok, where you are forced into the lifeless eyes as they bore into the depths of your soul.
Luckily, the film isn’t just Ewoks, the filmmakers give us some relief with the inclusion of human characters, so we don’t go completely insane. Although these humans don’t exactly offer much relief. The film starts with a couple, who have crashed on the Forest moon and are looking for their children amongst the wreckage, however a large monster appears from the depths of the woods. The film then fades to the next scene, so we can only assume the couple were ripped to shreds and now rest, in pieces, in the monsters digestive system…..or they could have just been captured. Sadly, these two are captured and instead are main characters are a pair of children……great. Yes, the Ewoks come across the wreckage and find a young girl named Cindel and her older brother named Mace. The actor that plays Mace is called Eric Walker, who plays the tough kid but ultimately comes across as bland and slightly annoying. Although I do feel bad for riffing on him, as he does actually seem to be trying, even if his best attempts at acting do make the guy from Troll 2 look like Sir Ian McKellen. I feel sorry for him, he’s reaching pre-teen age and he probably didn’t think this was the film he’d be starring in when told he’d be in a Star Wars spin-off. The girl on the other hand, good God! She needs to lighten up, she’s in a Kids movie and yet throughout the whole film she has such a sour look that even a Lemon would tell her to lighten up. The film also has a narrator, in the form of Burl Ives, who explains to all the 5 children watching what the hell is going on, seeing as most probably don’t speak Ewok. However, you’d think for a Kids film they’d get someone who sounded the least bit interested and hire someone who has a voice more monotone than Liam Neeson and Keanu Reeves combined. Did the director forget to tell half of his actors that this is a Kids film?
The narration is boring, the little girl is sour and often comes out with some pretty depressing lines, such as when she tells her brother that her parents are likely dead, yet she forgets to show any emotion over the matter. Warwick Davies is also back in this film, reprising his role as Wicket, but honestly does it even matter?
The film sees Mace and Cindel team up with the Ewoks to rescue their parents from the monster. Before they set off, they encounter a series of giant creatures and monsters, obviously invented so there’s some level of threat or action to keep the young ones entertained, but that begs the question: Where the hell were these giant monsters in Episode VI? The could have been pretty useful against the Empire, more so than a group of Teddy Bears! CGI is pretty much non existent in this film, so the monsters are brought to life through stop motion and camera trickery, which isn’t brilliant, but it’s not bad either, at least given the time the film came out. Also, there are a few neat moments in the films score, some of which hark back to the themes from Return of the Jedi which is pretty nice.
There are a lot of things in this film which will cause hardcore fans to die inside, like the inclusion of many earth-bound animals. Did you know Ewoks farmed Llama’s, or rode small horses or kept Ferrets as pets? Also, it’s all very well saying the film takes place on the Forest Moon of Endor, but it shows laziness when you film in a random forest that looks nothing like the one from Return of the Jedi. Also, remember how it’s the Forest Moon of Endor? Yeah, at several points the filmmakers forgot to actually put in a forest. Not only that, but the Ewoks actually manage to talk English in this film, most of the time they are just odd words, but at times they are able to string a small sentence together…in English! That would have been pretty helpful when they met the Rebel’s in Return of the Jedi. Remember the large Ewok village from Episode VI? That seems to have been replaced by one small hut on the ground. OK, I know this was probably to budget restrictions, but come on, if the filmmakers really cared about this film, they could have thrown a little more money at it, it’s not like Lucasfilm was exactly strapped for cash.
Originally, this film had some entertainment value, being so bad it was hilarious. However, after a while, and by a while I mean 30 minutes, I did get bored. In fact, I don’t see how anyone could not get bored at this, the film really doesn’t have much going for it. After the kids form a connection with the Ewoks and go to rescue their parents, the film kind of grinds to a halt and runs out of things to do. About 2/3′s of the film is just filler, which is annoying because it then takes longer to get to the damn end credits! Random scenes such as an axe throwing costume with a nameless Ewok, or the boy passing a “magic” test (Yes, this film has magic!) to get a female witch Ewok to join the “caravan” serve no real purpose except to fill up the running time. No one cares! In the end, I kept myself entertained by watching the young Eric Walker and thinking what was going through his mind when he was made to act alongside these teddy bears. I doubt he was thinking: “This is my big break, I’ll be at the Academy Awards before you know it.”
Yeah, this film really has nothing going for it. It doesn’t fill me with rage, like some previous Star Wars incarnations, but it doesn’t fill me with any good feelings either. It didn’t really leave any effect on me at all. Now I’m not the audience for this, so that isn’t exactly surprising, but will children like it? Well, in all honesty, I don’t think they will. I think that after the first half hour they will probably get bored as well. Shoving a load of teddy bears on the screen isn’t enough to keep children entertained. There is one moment where the film literally darts a flashing light all over the screen, which is one step above dangling a set of keys in front of your child’s face. The scene acts as another pointless “filler” moment and insults more than entertains the audience. At the end of the day, it seems to have been cobbled together in the space of a week, with a tiny budget and some hope that Kids will watch it because “ooo look, Ewoks!” There’s no charm, some lazy story telling, dire acting and the film slowly and quite painfully plods along to the end credits, which could not come soon enough.
Oh and the Caravan in the title? It doesn’t mean we get a My Big Fat Gypsy Ewok Wedding moment, it’s just a word the film uses to describe a group of Ewoks. (Note to self, propose the idea of My Big Fat Ewok Wedding to Disney)
Next week, believe it or not, will take a look at the sequel to this film! Yes, I’m still pinching myself, but this film was able to warrant a sequel. Oh well, anything to delay me from watching The Holiday Special is fine with me.