Sunday, 25 October 2009

63: Twelve Movies - The Battle for Endor

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

12 Days: 12 Movies – Special Edition
Day Six: Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
(1985, 97mins, Dir. Jim and Ken Wheat)

Dear lord that film’s about half an hour too long. Who knew that the usually magnificent Carel Struycken could be so shite as Terak? It’s late and I’ve got limited patience after watching that, so this review may be a bit of a mish-mash...

The movie takes place about six months after Caravan of Courage, hence Mace and Cindel have visibly aged. A greater transformation has taken place in their parents however, as Catarine, their mother, is played by an actress who didn’t want to show her face, and their dad’s transformed into the excellent Paul “Breakfast Club” Gleason. That doesn’t matter, however, as Cindel’s brother and both parents are dead before the movie’s hit the ten-minute mark (did I mention? SPOILERS!). After the first movie, I’d have thought that they really couldn’t afford to get rid of Mace... and they proved me right. Although to be fair, there are far bigger problems here than the lack of Eric Walker.

This time round, Wicket has managed to learn basic... erm, basic (the GFFA term for ‘English’) remarkably well. His usage is limited, but he’s grasped the mechanics of the language very nicely considering he’ll have completely forgotten is by the time Princess Leia gets to know him. If only Wicket’s costume was as impressive. On par with the last film, it looks like it’s been used to clean the studio inbetween movies. Which is odd, because there are clearly higher production values this time around, as displayed in the opening family-killing battle.

Also worth mentioning is the awesome stop-motion on display. The boys at ILM developed a creature which looks like the genetic mashing of a Velociraptor and a Dewback, and by god they’re not afraid to show it off!

Anyway, back to the plot. A bunch of Sanyassan Marauders who’d been shipwrecked on Endor for 100 years or so managed to go undetected by the Ewoks, and attack the village one day, killing half the tribe and kidnapping the other half. It turns out the leader, Terak is hell bent on getting a power supply for some manner of ‘magic’, and wants Cindel to unlock her family’s ship’s power-cell. So far, so fairytale.

Cindel and Wicket escape, and meet up with another shipwrecked inhabitant, Noa (really? Is the centre of Endor a giant magnet or something?), who’s the second person in the GFFA to wear glasses (after The Holiday Special’s Saundan). Noa is accompanied by Teek, who displays some of the best puppetry in the whole film, even if he is the most deeply annoying character. Noa’s a gruff old loner (apart from his fucking annoying sidekick) whose character has been designed so sympathetically that we don’t actually buy the ‘gruff’ part. No matter, it’s a kid’s movie after all.

The one question that wouldn’t leave me was: Why didn’t the Empire use Terak’s castle-remains as the basis for their shield generator in ...Jedi? It would have been much easier to defend on account of it being a fucking castle.

The Good: The homage to the Falcon dogfight from ANH when Noa’s ship’s power returns. The costume set and sound design ensure that it feels like Star Wars- although you’ll probably wish it didn’t. There’s a shot of the castle with the gas-giant of Endor in the sky behind, that I think may have served as inspiration in Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon...

The Bad: Terak’s henchmen seem to have bought their outfits at the same charity shop as Jabba’s guards. Noa’s “getting dressed for action” sequence, featuring buckles and clasps snapping into place as Noa dons... essentially the same outfit. Terak’s gargly version of Scarface’s accent. How come the Ewoks forgot to mention to the Towani family about the fucking-batshit-crazy marauders that lived in the old castle just over the ridge?

The Ugly: Marianne Horine playing the ‘good’ disguise of the evil witch Charal. I know it’s basically pantomime, but she’s just fucking awful. She makes Sian Philips’ portrayal of the alter-ego almost convincing...

Best Line: “Stay away, get help!”,
Mace Towani giving Cindel the advice she should have had as the contract for this movie was put in front of her...

My biased rating: 4/10
For a movie that’s often rated above Caravan..., I didn’t like it as much. Too many characters speaking in basic makes for clumsy storytelling. The first one had way more charm.

Tomorrow: The Phantom Menace

• ^^^ 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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