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  Ewoks: The Battle for Endor Wicket Creeper
Year: 1985
Director: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Stars: Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Sian Phillips, Carel Struycken, Niki Botelho, Paul Gleason, Eric Walker, Marianne Horine, Daniel Frishman, Tony Cox, Pam Grizz, Roger Johnson, Michael Pritchard, Johnny Weissmuller Jr
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Adventure, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: On the forest moon of Endor, Wicket (Warwick Davis), one of the Ewok inhabitants, has made friends with little Cindel (Aubree Miller) whose father (Paul Gleason) is rebuilding their family's crashed spaceship near to Wicket's village. However, just as the small, humanoid bear is getting to know the girl, tragedy strikes and troops appear, gunning down almost everyone in sight with a view to kidnapping the rest. Cindal tries to get to her brother and mother, but the latter has been shot dead and the former, after telling her to get away, is blown up. Only her father is left, but he is being interrogated by the villains' leader Terak (Carel Struycken), fatally, as it turns out...

Everyone knows the best bit with the Ewoks is in Return of the Jedi, where they start worshipping C3-PO as a god, everything after that is purely superfluous and that included the two TV movies George Lucas made based around the cute and cuddly characters, of which this was the second. A cartoon series appeared in the same year in lieu of a third instalment, and after that was cancelled a couple of years later, that was in for the Ewoks on the screen, though doubtless Wicket and his diminutive friends lived on in fan fiction even if they failed to be invited back for The Force Awakens, never mind the start of the millennium prequel trilogy from Lucas (he had bigger Jar-Jars to fry).

What was notable about The Battle for Endor was how bloodthirsty it was, not that we saw any blood but there was a surprisingly high body count, not merely the little guys but Cindal's entire family is murdered by Terak's soldiers in a manner that emulated Luke Skywalker's discovery of his aunt and uncle in the original Star Wars, yet was no less jarring, especially as saving them had been such an imperative part of the first TV movie. Therefore within about ten minutes of the thing starting, the tiny girl has become an orphan and lost the brother who was doing so much to keep her alive, and we're supposed to regard this as the exciting opportunity for another adventure.

Not that Wicket had any better luck, but at least some of his tribe survived; after escaping the clutches of Terak's men, they try to get back to the village only to meet some obstacles along the way, including a stop motion animated dinosaur bird that carries Cindal off in its claws, leading the heroic Ewok to fly after her in a hang glider. That was the kind of peril they both found themselves in: nothing that would actively kill them and write them out of the story, but with enough going on that it passed for activity and plot development. By and by they encountered an irascible old man played by, who else but Wilford Brimley? His companion was something (Niki Botelho in the suit) resembling sitcom star ALF, but with the ability to run very fast not unlike superhero The Flash, in theory cute but in practice... pretty strange.

Not that Wicket was looking that cute either, as the new costume for Davis was plainly done on the cheap, so no longer was he the fluffy little teddy, he was more like someone had knitted his fur, leaving him as if he had been sewn together out of a couple of discarded cardigans. His glassy-eyed, unblinking stare was a problem too, offering him a crazed, fixed expression rather than the bundle of fun who had met Princess Leia on a log in his debut. Also along for the ride, but on the side of the baddies, was Sian Phillips as a proto-Sith (this was supposed to be set before the Star Wars movies) who acts closer to the Wicked Witch of the West and betrayed Lucas's actual interest in making his high fantasy movie Willow, which not coincidentally also starred Davis. It all ended with a ruckus as the body count spiralled upwards, even Wicket getting in on the act of slaughter, and if you thought Brimley was out of place in Hard Target, check him out here (he did start out as a stuntman, you know). About as good as you'd expect, but slightly weirder. Music by Peter Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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