Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)

A long time ago, in a TV far, far away....

If you're anything like me, and I know I am, Star Wars holds a very deep personal and loving space in your heart (all Jar Jar and JJ Abrams jokes aside). Maybe you also felt a disturbance in the Force when it was announced that the new Star Wars movies would ignore the canon previously established in the number of books and graphic novels that have been released.  True, that may very well spell distaster, but when it comes to Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, perhaps its best if the new canon just pretends this never happened to begin with.

Before we begin, its only fair to point out, that you can either watch this movie through Netflix or on YouTube. However, if you want your own copy, its a little pricey…

When you think about it, YouTube is a real bargain.

So begins our long journey into sci-fi mediocrity...

I watched this - and not entirely sure what the plot was, but I'll give you my impression. A sweet cherubic child witnesses the brutal murder of her parents by way of demonic extras from the Lord of the Rings set. Since she is all alone in the world, a Ewok takes her along a random trip through danger and pointless travels, all to watch Wilfred Brimley uncomfortably walk through scenes and climb up ladders. Also, there's a power source that the forces of evil want, although we're not sure why.

I understand that special effects for TV weren't quite up to calibur that they are now, but the special effects of this look like a still background setting with pictures of mythical animals taped on it.

In true Lucas-ian style, we are given characters that are meant to be cute and therefore, "funny". However, as I discovered, there was very little difference in the upsetting scale between those characters and the ones meant to represent the evil side.

Case in point....

Evil. Sure - I get it.

DEAR GOD, DON'T LOOK INTO ITS EYES! Get that kid away from that thing!

Just back away slowly from the Demon Squirrel - he only wants you for your soul....

Sure, she's evil - but at the same token, she's far less threatening than anyone else in this movie (the Precious Moments figure of a main character not withstanding) but I also get the feeling she was super helpful that time I shopped the clearance sale at Bath and Body Works.

The only reason I posted this screenshot is because I was secretly hoping this toucan/pteredactyl unholy union would end up being a a more central part of the movie.  It wasn't. Also disappointing was the fact it didn't eat the Ewok with its big goofy mouth.

Meanwhile, in a picturesque cabin in the woods....

Wilfred Brimley takes a moment to heft himself out of his chair and not talk about diabetes. He's curmudgeonly and has no place for others in his life....or his oatmeal infused heart.

Did I say curmudgeonly? Don't let the whittled flute fool you - there's a scene where he kicks out the most precious child alive to starve and/or get eaten by a hastily  thrown together special effect.

"Being alone isn't so bad...I grew a beard just so I'd have someone to talk to."

Our bland little heroine is tricked by the song of a beautiful princess and a magic white horse.  Maybe our more cynical age would make this an eye rolling moment, but I'll tell you this.  Had this happened to me, I would have totally fallen for it.

...and it turns out to be the evil witch, who kidnaps the little girl and makes off for a super evil castle that has no light, no plumbing, and no real floor plan.

It should be noted that  no one on Endor is teaching kids the whole "Stranger danger" lesson.

This is what the bad guys are after. After watching this movie, I have just as many answers for what it is, then had I just looked at a picture.

Meanwhile, the Ewok, a Demon Squirrel and Wilfred Brimley go to rescue the kid and use dialogue that narrates everything we're seeing.

"Oh look, water."

End scene.

Here's one thing that this movie felt was none of our business: our villains (i.e. Night Manager of Bath and Body Works and the rejects from Lord of the Rings) don't really have a clear objective.  They have a glowy lantern thing, they don't know how to work it.  They kidnap a five year old expecting her to know how to work it. So the Manager and the little girl are thrown in prison until they figure what they're doing.

Remember the trash compactor scene from Episode IV? Its like that but if you take away the action, or the urgency or the motivation, or even the interest to find out what happens next.

 Meanwhile Wilfred Brimley lumbers from scene to scene - trust me, they weren't paying him enough to run.

There's a weird game of poker being played that's meant as a "comedy" scene.

I can't stare at these face and be moved towards laughter.  Its just not going to happen. You didn't see Peter Jackson pulling this.

And just in case you were concerned that they only shot this movie in someone's basement or someone's backyard, here's a shot of Ewoks running next to a very realistic painting of a castle.

Also a evil horsemen and his evil horse who may not have been informed that they are in a made for TV Ewoks movie and not an actual Star Wars movie.

The villains of this are understandably perturbed that there trip back home was but a small detour and here they are back again battling low rent Teddy Ruxpins.

Also annoyed is Wilfred Brimley, who's fisherman's hat says he had a fishing trip lined up, but was called back to set at the last minute. 

"I had fish to catch and oatmeal to eat.  They didn't pull this crap on Cocoon II."

"I demand to lounge for the rest of the movie. This getting up business is for you young folks."


The battle ends with the villains being burned to a crisp by a Eddie Bauer camping lantern and Wilfred Brimley and child boarding a spaceship. Where are they going? None of our business.

Perhaps to another galaxy far, far away in a painting a long time ago.

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