A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 72 – Ewoks: Caravan of Courage

Ewoks: Caravan of Courage – May 11th, 2010

Why yes, we do own the two Ewok movies. These were made for television in the mid-1980s and are two adventures featuring a bunch of everyone’s favorite teddy bear aliens, the Ewoks. Tonight we’re doing the first, the story for which was written by Lucas. It has some problems, but I’m going to try to be kind. After all, made for television in the 80s? I’d be foolish indeed to expect Return of the Jedi, here.

One of the first obvious issues is that these were made for kids. Specifically. And as I mentioned in my review of The Phantom Menace, making a movie for kids means subtitling has to be kept minimal. And it was made for kids and for television. So instead of subtitling, we get a voice over narrative for the Ewoks. Now, did they plan on subtitling and then decide to cut costs? What were the options here? I’m sure Andy will comment on this too. It ends up coming off as if there’s something missing. I blame it entirely on the majority of the characters in the movie being Ewoks and speaking in their own language. Sure, the Ewoks are cute and have kid appeal, and yeah, the plot of the movie hinges on the human kids who are the main characters initially being unable to communicate with the Ewoks. But that makes it awkward.

Quick plot summary! A family of humans has crash landed their tiny little shuttle on the forest moon of Endor. While the parents are off trying to find a transmitter, their kids are supposed to be safe on the shuttle. Unbeknownst to them, their kids have been discovered by a bunch of Ewoks and due to the fact that they can’t hear the narration and haven’t seen Return of the Jedi the language barrier means they end up getting in a fight and getting carried off to the Ewoks’ village. Eventually they make friends with the Ewoks, who help them find out that their parents are being held prisoner by some big monster, and then the Ewoks put together a rescue party (the titular “caravan of courage”) and everyone gets a special item and off they go to have adventures and save the day. Huzzah.

It takes a little while to get to the whole caravan thing, which is annoying, but eh, what can you do, right? Got to set up the whole situation with the humans and the Ewoks and our friendly narrator. Once the caravan gets moving, the pacing goes down hill. It’s almost like they planned for the movie to eventually be split up into half hour episodes or something. Every few minutes there’s a minor emergency and Mace gets himself in trouble and then one of the Ewoks (usually Wicket, who is the Ewok lead and played by Warwick Davis) saves the day. Or they meet up with a new member of the party and have to convince them to join the caravan. But I can sort of understand why it was done like this. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was written intentionally episodic both for the purpose of re-editing for a shorter format and because people seem to think kids can’t pay attention to something that isn’t done like this.

And you know what? Aside from the special effects, which are a mixed bag at best, and the narration? My biggest complaint would be that the kids playing Mace and Sindel can be a little on the annoying side. But they’re child actors, and Mace at least is pretty much written to be a total jerk the majority of the time. It’s not the actor’s fault that his character does something boneheaded in pretty much every scene. And I honestly thought I remembered Sindel as being far less watchable than she was. Maybe I’m mixing this one with the next one (directed by Andy’s uncles – we’ll be watching it tomorrow), but I really didn’t mind her in this. Overall, I rather enjoyed watching this tonight, cheesy 80s special effects and awkward narration and all. Don’t expect to see something on the same level as the original trilogy, because that’s not what this was made to be. It was made to be a fun little extra adventure for the kids who loved the Ewoks. If you acknowledge when it was made and what it was made for, you might well enjoy it like I did.

May 11, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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