“The star cruiser’s almost fixed. We’re gonna have to say goodbye.” – Cindel Towani
Well, I’ve been putting this one off. I had the goal of watching and reviewing all existing Star Wars spin-off movies before Rogue One opens in theaters, but turns out I really didn’t want to watch this one. I had seen it once before, and I only remembered two things about it. First, I didn’t like it. Second, there’s some weird witch lady in the movie who can turn into a crow. So, I wasn’t thrilled about sitting through the movie again, but I finally got myself to do it.
Ewoks: The Battle For Endor is the sequel to Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure that had come out a year earlier. Like the first film, this was made-for-TV. It aired on ABC on November 24th, 1985.
For not wanting to watch this as much as I did, this movie caught me off guard. This movie is actually far better than the first Ewok movie. I don’t know why I remembered hating this one specifically so much, but it is actually a much more entertaining film than the first one. Maybe I had the two movies confused in my memory. Who knows. When I watched the first movie a few weeks ago I realized that it actually wasn’t that bad, and this one is even better. Does that mean it’s a good movie? No, not really, but it was enjoyable for what it is: an ’80s fantasy movie made for children.
This movie is a direct sequel to Caravan of Courage, so let’s recap what happened in that movie a little bit. In Caravan of Courage, the Towani family star cruiser crash lands on the forest moon of Endor. The Towani family consists of two children, Mace and Cindel, and their parents. Their parents go missing shortly after the crash, and Mace and Cindel take it upon themselves to go find them. They befriend some Ewoks–including Wicket, the Ewok who befriends Leia in Return of the Jedi–who tag along to help them get their parents back. They eventually find and rescue their parents from the evil Gorax. They have a happy reunion, and the movie ends.
Ewoks: The Battle For Endor picks up right where the first movie left off. The family is back together, and the childrens’ father, Jeremitt, is doing some last-minute repairs to their ship so that they can finally leave the forest moon. Cindel is walking through the forest with Wicket, who can apparently have entire conversations speaking semi-fluent English now. Suddenly, an army of strange alien creatures (called “Sanyassans” apparently. Thanks, Wookieepedia!) raids the Ewok village and starts burning the dwellings and attacking those who live there. The Sanyassans, along with a creepy witch named Charal, find Jeremitt and insist that he gives them the “power of the stars.” Jeremitt has no idea what they are talking about. They pull apart the ship until they find a power cell, which is apparently what they were looking for.
Then, THE SANYASSANS KILL CINDEL’S ENTIRE FAMILY.
Cindel is a five-year-old little girl, and her whole family is killed at the very beginning of this movie, including her brother, Mace, who was one of the protagonists of the last film! Whose idea was this?! The whole plot of the last movie was that Cindel and Mace were trying to reunite their family, and they finally succeed at the end of that movie, only for everyone but Cindel to get murdered at the beginning of the next movie. Are you kidding me? This is brutal! This is basically the same thing that happened in Alien 3. In Aliens, Ellen Ripley risks everything to save a little girl named Newt from the Queen Xenomorph, the biggest and baddest alien out there. They barely escape, along with Corpral Hicks, a U.S. Marine who helped fight the aliens in the movie. Ripley, Hicks, and Newt all make a safe escape off-planet, and enter hypersleep on their ship as they fly to safety. The movie ends on a happy note. Then, Alien 3 starts with their ship crash-landing and Hicks and Newt die in their sleep, off-screen. What the hell?! Who thinks immediately killing off the heroes of the previous movie is a good way to start the sequel? Cindel doesn’t seem that sad about her entire family being dead though, so I guess it’s okay.
Anyway, Cindel is now on her own, and she is captured by the Sanyassans. The Sanyassans look like a cross between the Yuuzhan Vong, the goombas from the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie, and Sarris, from Galaxy Quest. In other words, they look weird. Cindel is reunited with Wicket, who was also captured, and the two escape into the forest.
Cindel and Wicket find a strange rodent creature named Teek, who can run super fast. They follow Teek to a house in the middle of the forest. The house appears to be abandoned, so Cindel and Wicket decide to clean it up and live there themselves. They’re wrong though, and the owner of the home–an old man named Noa–returns and angrily tells them to get lost.
Is Noa the only person in Star Wars to wear glasses? Are glasses canon? Who knows!
Noa eventually feels bad and lets the two of them stay with him. Noa crash landed on the moon of Endor a very long time ago, and has never been able to leave because his ship’s power cell is broken.
One day, Cindel hears a strange voice calling her name. She wanders off into the forest to find whoever’s calling to her. She finds a pretty woman in a long white dress and with a white horse. This woman reminds me of Mombi from Return to Oz, the first time Dorothy meets her when she still has her nice head on (if you haven’t seen it, don’t ask…). Then the woman transforms into the witch, Charal. Now she reminds me of Mombi when she puts her angry head on becomes super evil. Charal kidnaps Cindel and brings her to the fortress of the Sanyassans.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Charal has the ability to transform into a crow? Y’know, because she’s a witch. Wait, are crows canon?!?!
…are horses canon?!
Oh wait, the last movie had horses…
The moon of Endor is just full of Earth animals.
Charal takes Cindel to who I assume is the king of the Sanyassans. He tells Cindel to activate the “power of the stars” (the power cell they stole from Cindel’s family’s ship) for them with magic, but she’s a five-year-old and she doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, so they lock her up. They also lock up Charal, and take her magic ring that allows her to turn into a crow.
Noa, Wicket, and Teek find their way to the fortress and are able to unlock Cindel’s cell and break her out. Wicket is about to open Charal’s cell too, but Cindel takes the keys from him and throws them down a drain, saying he can’t free her because she’s evil. Yeah! Take that!
So they take the power cell and escape the fortress, and then suddenly this movie becomes The Lord of the Rings. A huge army of Sanyassans, with their swords and armor, gathers together and rides off on horseback to find the Cindel and her friends. They chase them into the forest and a battle breaks out between the Sanyassans and the Ewoks. This really does feel like a low-budget Lords of the Rings battle scene mixed with the Ewok vs Stormtrooper battle from Return of the Jedi. It’s actually kind of cool! And it’s extra fun, because in this movie, the Ewoks use guns instead of rocks! Ewoks with blasters. So good! When are we going to get Battlefront DLC of this??
Noa and Cindel run inside Noa’s crashed ship. They start shooting the Sanyassans with the ships turrets and it’s great because who wouldn’t want to see a Lord of the Rings movie where halfway through the battle a spaceship starts shooting up the battlefield?
Long story short, eventually the plug the power cell into the ship, and Noa and Cindel are finally able to leave the moon of Endor. They all say their goodbyes to their friends. Cindel and Wicket have become best friends and Cindel is way sadder about saying goodbye to him than she ever is about the deaths of her entire family. The ship flies off, and Wicket and Teek run after it, with Wicket shouting “Cindel! Bye Cindel!” It’s actually very touching and kind of sad and I hate that a movie like this can make me feel sad.
The ship flies off into the distance, and the movie ends.
There are some cool things about the movie. The special effects are pretty great for a low-budget made-for-TV movie from the ’80s. Obviously they aren’t anywhere near as good as the effects in an actual Star Wars movie, but they’re still pretty good. There are more alien species and creatures than there were in the first movie, and they all look pretty cool. I was especially impressed with Teek, the little rodent character. The costume and effects used to bring that character to life looked really good.
I still can’t get over all the Earth animals that are on Endor. We’ve now seen llamas, horses, crows (well, at least one crow who is actually a witch), chickens, and more on Endor. It’s kind of like if Noah’s ark was actually a spaceship, and that spaceship flew to a galaxy far, far away, and landed on the moon of Endor.
Wait a minute… Could the Noa in this movie actually be the Biblical Noah? Both stories take place a long time ago. Wow, it makes so much sense!
And, wait a minute! In the Bible, in the 28th chapter of Samuel, Saul goes to meet “the Witch of Endor.” Witch of Endor?… you mean like the witch on Endor who is in this movie??
Wow! Turns out Ewoks: The Battle For Endor is actually a sequel to the Holy Bible!
One interesting thing that was apparently later clarified is that Charal, the witch, is actually a Nightsister from the planet Dathomir. The Nightsisters are a group of female witches who practice dark magic using the Force. Asajj Ventress is the most well-known of the Nightsisters. The Clone Wars taught us that the Nightsisters actually raised Darth Maul. The Nightsisters were first introduced in 1994, in Dave Wolverton’s novel The Courtship of Princess Leia. Obviously, that was almost a decade after this movie was released, so calling Charal a Nightsister is just a big ol’ retcon, but it’s still kind of a cool detail.
This movie has more going on than the last one did. It’s faster-paced, which for me makes it more entertaining to watch. Though I wouldn’t ever choose to watch this on my own, I could definitely see myself watching it with younger children, and I think it is something that most kids would enjoy watching if they enjoy fantasy stories or big teddy bears.
You know what really bugs me though? Why can Wicket speak English?! Why?! This movie supposedly takes place before Return of the Jedi, but Wicket can’t speak English in that movie! Why couldn’t he have a conversation with Leia? How did he forget English? Why does this bother me so much?! It’s a kid’s movie! I DON’T CARE I WANT EVERYTHING TO MAKE SENSE.
This actually isn’t the only time this happens in Star Wars. In one episode of The Clone Wars, our favorite shooting-first-friend Greedo makes an appearance, and he speaks in fluent English the entire episode. Okay, if Greedo can speak English, they why doesn’t he speak English with Han in A New Hope, instead of having the weird two-language conversation that they have in the movie?
The easy answer to both of these questions is that this movie and that show are made for kids, and kids don’t want to read subtitles. But still, the continuity-conscious part of me really hates this stuff. Wicket and Greedo both speak English, but they don’t speak English in the regular Star Wars movies. Okay. Weird.
Overall, this is a pretty good movie, all things considered. It’s made for kids, and the acting is poor, and the story is weird, but it’s still pretty entertaining for what it is. This is the better of the two Ewok movies, for sure. This is a good movie to watch with your kids. If I had seen this movie as a kid I’m sure I would have loved it. Seeing it for the first time as an adult is kind of weird, but it reminds me of the kinds of movies I used to love when I was growing up.
This movie adds nothing important to the Star Wars universe as a whole, but it’s still a cute movie. If you want your Star Wars movies to “matter” in the overall story of Star Wars, then the only spin-off movie you should watch is The Clone Wars. With that said, I actually think Ewoks: The Battle For Endor is a better movie than The Clone Wars, even though The Clone Wars is actually a somewhat important chapter in the story of Star Wars as a whole, especially since it acts as an introduction to Ahsoka Tano.
This movie’s not great, but it’s not bad, especially if you’re going to be watching it with younger kids.