Throw back Thursday review of “Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure”
Directed by: John Korty
In the mid-80s, there was a sadness in the world. That sadness existed because Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI had come and gone. The empire, for the time being, had been defeated and there was no telling how long it would be before the franchise’s millions of fans got another movie from George Lucas and company (and god if they had known what they were waiting for…). In an attempt to fill the void, after “Return of the Jedi”, Lucasfilm decided to take that film’s most adorable, fluffy, adult-infuriating creatures and make two made for tv movies about them.
Now… if, for whatever reason, you have never seen the two Ewok films be warned… There are spoilers ahead. Being that the films are both 30+ years old, and part of the single biggest film franchise in the history of film franchises, I am going to go ahead and not hold back any details while explaining my experience with re-watching them. Trust me, if you are a Star Wars fan you either have already seen them, or you probably wouldn’t want to at this point. Anyway… onward!
“Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure” tells the story (largely through the golden voice of Burl Ives) of brother and sister Mace (Walker) and Cindel (Miller) who crash land on Endor, with their parents (Fionnula Flanagan and Guy Boyd). Soon after, the parents are captured by a huge beast called the Gorax. When Wicket (Davis) and the rest of the Ewoks discover the children, Cindel has fallen ill. The Ewoks give the children food and medicine, and ultimately learn of their parents’ capture and agree to help them.
They visit the Ewok equivalent of a witch doctor, who gives each member of the rescue caravan a magical item that will be useful on their journey. This whole time, Mace is being a little disagreeable (to put it very lightly). Lucas decided to give the young protagonist all of the worst character traits of Luke Skywalker. He is whiny, quick to anger, and his lack of appreciation for all of the help the Ewoks provide is headache inducing. Several times throughout the film he also does the stereotypical racist thing of yelling louder while repeatedly saying the same thing, when the Ewoks don’t understand English words. But, back to the story.
So basically the caravan assembles, learns to get along (only after Wicket saves Mace’s life which finally shuts him up), and heads off to find the kids’ parents. There are some difficulties along the way, but the journey is fairly a simple one lacking the epic scope of the feature films. The Gorax, and the creatures that surround/inhabit his layer (including a wolf-like thing that looks an awful lot like a giant version of the ones from “Willow”), provide some fun scares and intense moments, but overall “Caravan” is noticeably a film that was geared towards a child/family audience. On that level, it worked perfectly. I, and several of my childhood friends, LOVED the two Ewok films. Granted we would have loved anything Star Wars, at that point, but I have many fond memories of watching both “Caravan” and “Battle For Endor” at multiple sleepovers and birthdays.
As an adult, I still enjoyed the hell out of “Caravan”. Any of you who know me know that my nostalgic side makes up a very large portion of my personality pie chart. Because of that, I have an uncanny ability to return (almost completely) to my child state of mind when watching the films of my youth. Thank goodness for that, because my adult mind was alternating between “Yawn” and “Wait a minute here…”. I won’t go all “Continuity” on you guys, but I just want to point out one hilariously bad decision by Lucas, in these movies. In the Star Wars universe we all know and most of us love, there are countless races of creatures from countless planets. The cantina scene alone was a feast for the eyes of genre fans. In those films, we were shown Wampas, and Rancors, and Wookies. Why then would Lucas and the rest of the people responsible for the Ewok films opt to put chickens, horses, ferrets, and goats all over the place?! It took all of my suspension of disbelief powers for the farm animals not to jar me out of my enjoyment of the movie.
Anyway, for a tv movie that was aimed mostly at retaining the excitement of child fans of Star Wars, “Caravan of Courage” is still enjoyable. Yes, you have to have seen and liked it as a kid. Yes, you have to ignore some pretty bad plot holes. And, yes, if you didn’t like Ewoks much before you will certainly hate them after this movie. In the end though, I loved it. Sorry, but I loved it.