Back Comments (24) Share:
May of 2005 is going to be a long remembered time. Not only will Britain be deciding who shall lead it forth for the next five years, but the next generation of videogame consoles, namely the next Xbox and PlayStation 3, will be ushered in at the E3 convention. Moreover, the infamous Star Wars franchise will finally see its end with the release of Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. So it’s a very big month indeed, but little will know that there is another addition to the Star Wars franchise about to be unleashed…

EWL1
Movie
On May 9th, the long forgotten Ewok Adventures, Ewok Animated Adventures and Droids Animated Adventures will hit the shelves for the first time on DVD. I’d be willing to wager most don’t even know what the hell these releases are, so here I am to shed some light in this monstrously simple review. For those who know full well what these releases are, you might just want to try that electro-shock treatment again, and accept my sincere apologies for bringing up this most taboo and sour subject. This review will focus on just the Ewok Adventures release, but if you really are that desperate and want to read about the others, you can find links to both the Ewok and Droid Animated Adventure reviews to the right-side menu.

Let us begin then, shall we. The exact name of this release is actually Star Wars: Ewok Adventures - Caravan of Courage / The Battle of Endor. On the disc you will find two feature-length TV movies which were produced way back in the mid eighties by LucasFilm. All I need say about these movies, as a fellow reviewer informed me a week or two ago, is that time hasn’t been kind to them. As a matter of fact I’d say that was a bit of an understatement – time seems to have killed them completely.

And it gets worse. Critics never responded well to these productions when they were first released, so after about twenty years you can image the degradation that's taken place. If you have seen Ewok Adventures, then to be honest the only thing it will conjure, apart from a feeling of sudden nausea, is a fine scraping of nostalgia perhaps.

If these films didn’t have Ewoks and some other Star Wars creatures then it bears absolutely no resemblance to the franchise at all. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine they are even in any way related to George Lucas’ huge space epics; the production design is questionable, the visual effects more so, acting is atrocious and they lack any sort of charm. In fact, I’d go as far as to say The Phantom Menace has more in common with franchise that this; and that film lacked any real substance.

EWL4
Anyway, enough rambling about how trite they are and on to the story, or what minute crumbs I can find that would constitute as being a story at least. The first part, the laughably titled ‘Caravan of Courage’ (which sounds more like the title of a boring western than a Star Wars production) runs for about one hour and thirty minutes. The second part, entitled ‘The Battle of Endor’ also runs for about the same. So this is essentially a three hour epic split in two.

For a three hour story, not much actually happens, or at least in the way of interest: A family crashes on the forest planet of Endor, as seen in Return of the Jedi, but the children become separated from their parents who have been kidnapped by a monster called Gorax. Off they go to save their parents then, fighting the enemy, aiding the Ewoks and of course finally trying to find a way off the planet by the end. There a re a few ‘side-quests’ if you will, but none are really attention grabbers.

That’s more or less it to be honest, but as a bonus you do get plenty of bad acting and terrible dialogue that makes it even more uninteresting and dull. It’s also full of tedious attempts at character development and some pretty silly plot devices, most of which amount to nothing whatsoever. You know, considering the franchise had just roped in billions of dollars, it’s questionable as to why these films are so cheap and tatty. They’re just not good at all, nor are they even entertaining.

Despite their many, many failings, there are some good things about these movies, if you can suspend belief for just a moment. For example, the opening credit in ‘Battle for Endor’ was particularly enjoyable and fun, despite the questionable lack of the rolling space credits, which was baffling. The music was also pretty good and the many forest locales are easy on the eyes.

All of this was promising start for the Ewoks, but it quickly begins to spiral into disarray once the actors begin to speak. But you do occasionally get that familiar Star Wars flavour when a certain sight or sound triggers it, but sadly it isn’t very often. Still, the kids might enjoy them. No, I take that back, kids should love these films actually, or at least they should enjoy them more than the grownups. For the adults who appreciate Star Wars however, avoid at all costs, unless you are immune to wincing and plenty of cringing and yawning.

EWL2
Video
Disappointingly these films were shot in a full frame aspect of 1.33:1, perhaps because they were direct to TV productions. To my knowledge widescreen television productions didn’t see the light of day until recently, so it can be forgiven for this. Still, it would have been cool to see it in a wider frame. The overall image is on the average side; grain is present in practically every frame and is generally littered with artefacts and such. It basically looks its age, without any sort of clean up. As boring and dire as the image may be, it should make mince meat of any VHS version.

Audio
Dolby surround is all you are going to get and again, I have mixed feelings. Sometimes the audio can be quite good, with the music oozing out of the speakers pleasantly; next it can sound harsh and unintentionally tinny. Voices are often quite muddy, but occasionally quite crisp. It is as if this soundtrack simply cannot make its mind up. On the whole however, I have to say it was better than I expected it to be, but still lame when compared with the majority of DVD soundtracks out there.

Extras
Nothing. All you are going to her here are boring ‘static’ menus and chapter selection.

EWL3
Overall
Put it this way; if you thought the franchise hit a low point with The Phantom Menace you were gravely mistaken. The Phantom Menace looks comparable to The Empire Strikes Back when side by side with Ewok Adventures. Just typing that sentence was scary enough, but it’s surprisingly true. In a film where I’d rather Jar Jar Binks be stepping on dung and trapping his hand in an engine and saying irritating things like, “Ooh moi moi I love you!”, that pretty much sums up this Ewok movie in as many words.

Don’t get me wrong, I do quite like the Ewoks; they’re cute, furry and have big teddy-bear eyes, and they have eerily cute voices too, but to spend three hours amongst them is just painful torture. If you are going to buy this DVD, and indeed the Animated Adventures, please, please, please consider spending your hard earned cash in a better, more tactful way. Unless you are a genuine fan of these movies, or have money to burn, I suggest you proceed with caution.


Links: