Sunday, 18 October 2009

61: Twelve Movies - Caravan of Courage

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

12 Days: 12 Movies – Special Edition
Day Five: Ewoks: Caravan of Courage
(1984, 97mins, Dir. John Korty)

For all the folks who claim that Return of the Jedi is a kids film... this is a kids film. The first of two made-for-TV spinoffs, Caravan of Courage is a RotJ prequel, which sees the Towani family crash-land on Endor, near Wicket’s village.

Strange fact: Until 2004, there was nothing to “officially” link this to the Star Wars universe. The word “Ewok” isn’t mentioned in the script of Jedi, and none of the marketing material for these spin-offs had a Star Wars logo on it. The bumph on the back of the VHS releases stated that these were the Ewoks from Jedi, but it wasn’t until the DVD release of the movies that they got the famous logo on the cover. They’re still considered by many not to be part of SW-canon, but only part of Ewok-canon. To me, this is a Star Wars film. If I can accept the Holiday Special, I can take an Ewok movie...

The main human protagonists are Mace (Eric Walker), and his younger sister Cindel (Aubrey Miller). Separated from their parents, the pair encounter the Ewoks, trials are passed, friendships forged etc etc. And Mace gets to wear a fantastic orange flight-suit!

The acting is wildly variable here. Eric Walker does a surprisingly decent job as second-gen Luke Skywalker, and Aubrey Miller’s slight woodenness is excusable given her age. For some reason, their parents played by Guy “Law and Order” Boyd, and Fionnula “The Others” Flannagan are the worst offenders in the acting department. Bloody awful, even if they are playing it “for the kids”.
The Ewok cast, lead by Warwick Davis reprising his role as Wicket, do a very good job bearing in mind they’ve got those suits to break through.

And that’s the only real sore point for me. The Ewoks that looked fairly convincing in Jedi now just look like short folks in furry suits. Blame it on the production values, I guess? It’d be easier to pick on the stop-motion monsters (and the “guy in a suit” giant Gorax), and the fact that the village on Endor seems to have chickens, horses and llamas, but I actually don’t mind those. The movie dips into Willow territory in a couple of places, but that’s no bad thing.

The Good: Great storytelling. People in suits speaking an alien language for lengthy periods of time, but unlike the Holiday Special, you actually know what the hell’s going on. As the film goes on, you’ll actually care, too.

The Bad: If you are going to sneak away from the tribe that’s taken you in, saved your life and generally supported you despite you waving a blaster around and not sharing a common language, and leave for an unknown, hostile forest with only that single blaster for protection... why the hell would you sneak away in the middle of the night?

The Ugly: Lucasfilm seem to have stored Warwick Davis’ costume in the broom-cupboard since shooting wrapped on Jedi...

Best Line: “C’mon, it’s okay, I made it!”,
Mace Towani, not realising that the spider the size of a very small child wouldn’t be big enough to spin a web the size of five football nets, and that it’s parent wouldn’t be too far away...

My biased rating: 5/10
Simplistic, and definitely a kids’ movie, but a good “family” addition to the canon.

Tomorrow: Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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