Ewoks: The Battle For Endor (1985)

Guy in the middle? Not in this movie

Guy in the middle? Not in this movie

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the worst movie we’ve ever covered here. It’s technically competent, which puts it above such lowlights as “Things”, “Witchcraft 10” and “Sentinel 2099”; it has a couple of moderately decent actors in it, which puts it above about 75% of what we’ve reviewed; and the story is understandable, which puts it above “I, A Man”, “Savage Vengeance” and “Land Of Doom”. But at its heart is a cynical blackness, an absolute contempt for its audience and a tedium so all-encompassing that it cruises past all of them.


Shall I bother recapping the story? Could anyone possibly care? If you remember the first Ewok movie, the family were reunited at the end and all was well…and just like every good kids’ movie, this one starts with the mother, father and son, along with most of the Ewok village, getting slaughtered by some weird ugly gorilla-looking creatures. Joy! This was done, in case you were wondering, because George Lucas had just watched “Bambi” with his daughter. So, the golden-curled daughter, Cindel, and Wicket the Ewok, who can now speak English, have to go on the run. The space-gorillas are led by Charal, a normal human-looking woman, live in a giant castle and want some power source for some reason or other. It may have been explained, but I didn’t care and I very much doubt you do either.


The power source belongs to Noa (Wilford Brimley), another normal human guy just living on the forest moon of Endor with his sort-of-pet Teek, who looks a bit like an Ewok but is almost supernaturally fast. He seems completely uninterested in meeting another human after what must be decades on his own, but eventually he thaws and they…someone gets kidnapped, and they have to rescue them, and Charal can do magic (which is the only use of magic by anyone anywhere in the entire universe of Star Wars, in case you were wondering) and turns herself into a crow a few times.


Okay, that’s a recap. Now, why did I hate it so much? Let’s do strictly in-movie things before really putting the boot in. It’s a million little things which demonstrate a lack of care on the part of everyone involved in the creative side of the movie (Lucas and credited writer/directors Jim and Ken Wheat). Firstly, the movie is called “The Battle For Endor” but Endor is the big planet hanging in the sky; we’re located on the forest moon of Endor. Also, to call a smallish group of baddies fighting a smallish group of Ewoks a “battle” is a bit rich. Then there’s the sheer number of different races on this presumably fairly small moon – there’s Ewoks, whatever Teek is, lots of normal Earth animals just thrown in for background colour, that big monster in part 1, lots of huge birds, whatever the gorilla-things are, and whatever the creatures they’re mounted on are called.


If the humans crash-landed at the beginning of the first movie, why didn’t they see the huge castle or Noa’s ship? Why are there so many humans on this planet, and why did none of them meet before? How come Wicket forgot how to speak English between this movie and “Return Of The Jedi”? The first Ewok movie is definitely not after “Return Of The Jedi”, and the only way to handwave away Wicket knowing English is to set this after “Jedi”…but the Rebellion would have probably taken Cindel and helped Noa fix his ship. Ugh, I feel dirty thinking in this much detail about the movie. If you ever hear anyone discuss “canon” seriously, you have my permission to throw something at their head.


The story itself is just dull, and way too little happens in it. When you’ve got a movie set in the Star Wars universe, where a good third of it is in a grumpy old man’s cabin in the woods, you know you’re in for a bad time. That the people who wrote this went on to write “Pitch Black” is genuinely amazing to me. That opening five minutes, when you realise that all the struggles of the first movie (such as they were) amounted to absolutely nothing, is actually a good preparation for the rest of the movie.


But what I really wanted to talk about was the process that allowed this movie to be made in the first place. As the last thirty years has proved, George Lucas is a hack who had one decent idea, and when he got money thrown at him to make a TV movie based on the Ewoks, he decided to pitch it at very young children, while still managing to condescend to them. The first “Star Wars” is a delight for everyone, kids love it (I certainly did), adults love it, because it’s just a fun adventure with no terribly complex emotions, violence or sex. This, on the other hand, might as well be a series of sparkly or jangly objects dangled in front of the screen, because about the same amount of effort was put into “The Battle For Endor”. I 100% guarantee at some point in the writing of this movie, one of the people involved went “ah, kids’ll eat up anything, who cares” when presented with information of a plot hole or a section that just didn’t work.


If Lucas could have made the same amount of money by showing a blank screen for two hours, he would have done. It’s lazy and stupid, utterly artistically bankrupt, and exists solely because the scum involved wanted to bleed every last dollar from the parents of the toddlers this movie was supposed to entertain. Being in a position to make movies is a privilege and it makes me sad when they toss a chance away on something like this. Please read our review of the first Ewok movie for…more of the same, really, but it saves me from having to write the same angry things again. What a worthless movie.


Rating: thumbs down


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