Friday, August 07, 2015
Summer of Star Wars: Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
Written for television and directed by Jim and Ken Wheat from a story by George Lucas, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is the sequel to the 1984 TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewoks Adventure that explores more adventures with Wicket and the Ewoks. Yet, it is about Wicket and an orphaned Cindel who try to seek help from a hermit following an attack by marauders who have taken control of the moon of Endor. Starring Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Paul Gleason, Sian Phillips, Carel Struycken, and Wilford Brimley. Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a very laborious and sappy TV movie from Jim and Ken Wheat.
When a group of marauders led by a warlord and a witch attack the Ewoks village and kill the family of a young girl who were just about to leave, the film revolves the young girl and the Ewok Wicket (Warwick Davis) trying to evade the marauders as they seek help from a hermit and his little fast-creature friend. It’s a film where a girl tries to survive and deal with loss but it’s a story where not a lot really happens but rather two characters get lost in the wood trying to find help and they eventually get help from some cranky old man. The script has elements that are quite dumb as the main antagonist in Terak (Carel Struycken) is someone that wants power thinking that some power generator for a starship has something mystical. It’s among these moments that is very stupid as well as plot-holes that relates to the entire Star Wars canon.
Wicket would speak some English in the film yet since the film is supposedly set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Why didn’t he speak English in the latter when he first appeared? Plus, how did the Ewoks not know about these marauders since there’s a castle somewhere in the moon of Endor? It’s among these plot devices that are very confusing as it definitely raises more questions than answers for even the most hardcore fan of the Star Wars series. The direction of Jim and Ken Wheat is quite uninspiring as it tries to mix in elements of fantasy, adventure, humor, and drama but it never meshes. Especially as there’s scenes where Wicket and Cindel (Aubree Miller) roaming around the woods and dealing with the hermit Noa (Wilford Brimley) as a lot of it never goes anywhere.
Shot on location in California at the Redwood forest, the film does maintain a sense of naturalism in its setting but the mixture of visual effects and action is quite wobbly considering that either there wasn’t enough money for the visual effects budget or they didn’t do enough work to make it look realistic. It’s among the many issues in the film that really hampers any elements to keep it engaging. Instead, a lot of the scenes that doesn’t involve any sense of action or adventure ends up being very boring and whenever they try to liven things up for humor. It feels forced and uninspiring while the action scenes themselves don’t really say anything as some of it comes off as cheesy. Overall, the Wheat brothers create a film that is just ponderous and unexciting about a girl trying to survive with the Ewoks from a bunch of ugly marauders.
Cinematographer Idisdore Mankofsky does nice work with the film‘s cinematography to complement the natural beauty of the locations though its look for the castle where the marauders live in has some bad lighting. Editor Eric Jenkins does OK work with the editing as it is straightforward but doesn‘t do enough to make things exciting due to its awful pacing. Production designer Joe Johnston and art director William George do excellent work with the look of Noa‘s home and his spaceship as well as the interiors of the marauder‘s castle despite its awful lighting.
Costume designer Michael Becker does good work with the costumes from the lavish look of the witch Charal (Sian Phillips) as well as the rugged look of Noa. Visual effects supervisor Michael J. McAlister do some decent work with the look of some of the characters though the effects look very wobbly where its mix of stop-motion animation and other effects don‘t mesh. Sound designer Randy Thom and sound editor Gloria S. Borders do some wonderful work with the sound from the way the guns sound to other things that play into the world of space and nature. The music by Peter Bernstein is terrific as it‘s a mostly orchestral-based score that features sweeping arrangements and bombastic pieces.
The film’s cast features appearances from Eric Walker as Cindel’s brother Mace, Tony Cox, Pam Grizz, and Daniel Frishman as a few Ewoks, and Marianne Horne as a young witch who would trick Cindel. Paul Gleason is pretty good as Cindel’s father Jeremitt who would have a very good moment where he would tell Cindel what to do knowing what would happen to him. Sian Phillips has her moments as the witch Charal though much of it is very ridiculous while Carel Struycken is terrible as the antagonist Terak as he basically has a lot of makeup and such where he just looks stupid.
Niki Botehlo doesn’t do much as the creature known as Teek where he is just a dumb comic relief while Warwick Davis does have some moments as the character Wicket since he is a reliable character. Aubree Miller is OK as Cindel as a young girl coping with loss and terror though she isn’t really able to sell the dramatic elements of her character. Finally, there’s Wilford Brimley in an alright performance as the cranky Noa as a hermit living in Endor as he deals with the marauders as he is the key to saving Cindel and the Ewoks.
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a terrible film from Jim and Ken Wheat. Not only is it a very messy film but also one that is very boring due to moments where not much happens and even when something does happen. The results are very poor as it’s really just a TV movie that doesn’t represent Star Wars very well. In the end, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a horrible film from Jim and Ken Wheat.
Star Wars Films: Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - Return of the Jedi - The Phantom Menace - Attack of the Clones - Revenge of the Sith - The Force Awakens - The Last Jedi - (Episode IX)
Related: The Star Wars Holiday Special - Caravan of Courage: An Ewoks Adventure - The Clone Wars - Fanboys - The People vs. George Lucas
Star Wars Anthology Films: Rogue One - (Solo: A Star Wars Story) - (Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film)
George Lucas Films: (THX 1138) - (American Graffiti)
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