Category: Movies

Review – “Ewoks: The Battle For Endor” (1985)

ewoks-battle-for-endor-poster“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.

What?!?

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.

yuuzhan-vong-goomba-sarris-sanyassan

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.

noa-cindel-wicketIs 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.

star-wars-crow

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??

sanyassan-army

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.

charal-endor-witchI 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.

dathomir-nightsisters.jpg

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.

wicket-leia-english

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.

cindel-wicket-fireOverall, 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.

Score: 6/10

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Four Things The Internet Keeps Getting Wrong About “Rogue One”

I don’t usually post anything on this blog that isn’t a review of some sort, but last year right before the release of The Force Awakens I wrote a short article about reasons why seeing the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga was going to be weird. Now, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story just days from release (it already premiered in Hollywood, which means spoilers are floating around out there. Be careful!) I thought I’d clear up some very common misconceptions about what this movie is. For the hardcore Star Wars fan, this stuff is obvious, but there seems to still be some confusion out there among the more casual crowd, so let’s see if I can help them out. Let’s get started!

rogue-one-troopers

Rogue One is NOT Star Wars: Episode VIII

I think by now most people know this, but I still see YouTube comments on the trailers from people who are confused as to why we don’t see Rey, Finn, Poe, or anyone from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens in the trailers for Rogue One. Simply put, Rogue One is NOT Star Wars Episode 8. It’s a standalone spin-off film that takes place right before A New Hope, and it doesn’t focus on the Skywalker family at all (well, except for the fact that Darth Vader is in it, I guess). It deals with the group of rebels who steal the Death Star plans that Leia has at the beginning of A New Hope, and rumor has it that this movie ends ten minutes before A New Hope starts. Episode 8 is coming out next year, and we’ll get to see the continuation of the story that was started in The Force Awakens then!

Rogue One is NOT the First Star Wars Spin-Off Movie

I keep seeing headlines and articles everywhere labeling Rogue One as “the first Star Wars spin-off” or “the first standalone Star Wars movie.” It’s not the first. It’s not even the second. Rogue One is actually the fifth Star Wars spin-off movie. The first was the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special that aired on TV a year after the original Star Wars movie played in theaters. Then, after Return of the Jedi, there were two Ewok movies that were made-for-TV. Then, in 2008, The Clone Wars movie opened in theaters and worked as a (very poor) introduction to the TV series that followed it. It hasn’t even been that long since the last Star Wars spin-off movie, and we’ve already forgotten about it!

In 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe (which essentially was every Star Wars book, comic, video game, and spin-off movie) was officially declared “non-canon.” Everything except for The Clone Wars movie and TV series. So, Rogue One isn’t even the first canon spin-off movie. The Clone Wars still holds that title.

Rogue One is NOT the First Star Wars Movie Without an Opening Crawl

This is basically a continuation of the last point, but the internet seems to be making a huge deal about this so I thought I’d bring it up. For some reason, when it was announced that Rogue One will not have an opening crawl, the internet blew up with people saying stuff like “you can’t have a Star Wars movie without an opening crawl!!” Well, you can actually. None of the previous Star Wars spin-off movies had opening crawls either. So Rogue One is the fifth Star Wars movies without an opening crawl.

Many Bothans Will Not Die in Rogue One

death-star-ii-bothans

Ever since it was announced that Rogue One would be about the rebels who steal the Death Star plans, there have been jokes galore about how we’re going to see many Bothans die to get that information. Hold up, you’re wrong. First of all, the joke comes from Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi, who after briefing the Rebel Alliance before their attack on the Death Star, says “many Bothans died to bring us this information.” But this was in Return of the Jedi, and she was talking about the second Death Star. Rogue One is about the first Death Star. On top of that, she wasn’t even talking about “plans” for the Death Star. The information she’s referring to was simply the location of the second Death Star, not the “plans” for it. So, I appreciate your efforts to be clever, but the joke doesn’t make sense.

With that said, Bothans could still die in this movie I guess, but not for the reasons you were thinking of.


As with any big movie, there are always plenty of rumors and misconceptions flying around all over the place. These are four of the big ones that I just keep seeing, so I hope this clears things up for people who have been confused!

 

Review – “Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure” (1984)

caravan-of-courage-ewok-poster“We came on a star cruiser and we crashed . . . Don’t you have a star cruiser?” – Cindel Towani


 

Well, I committed to reviewing the rest of the Star Wars spin-off movies, so here goes. The thing I never realize when I decide to do something like this, is that reviewing them means that I have to actually watch them! I haven’t seen this movie in a very long time, and I wasn’t particularly excited to sit down and watch it again.

Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure came out in 1984, just one year after Return of the Jedi. It was a made-for-TV movie that was aimed at children, though it was eventually released on home video as well (however the last time it was released was in 2004 on DVD, so there is no blu-ray version available).

The story takes place a few years before Return of the Jedi. Wookieepedia places the movie in the year “3 ABY” so I’m just gonna go with that. This means it takes place around the same time as The Empire Strikes Back. This is all pointless information though, because there is no real connection between this movie and the main-saga Star Wars movies other than the shared setting of the Forest Moon of Endor, and a few Ewok characters who appeared both in this and Return of the Jedi.

The movie starts up with no opening crawl, just like every other Star Wars spin-off movie, apparently including the soon-to-be-released Rogue One. This movie is interesting though because it is narrated by the snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Burl Ives). A narrator in a Star Wars movie seemed like a weird choice at first, until I realized that this is a movie about Ewoks, who don’t speak English, and nobody wants a repeat of The Star Wars Holiday Special where you just have to sit through scenes of unintelligible Wookiee noises for ten minutes.

crashed-starcruiser

The Towani family star cruiser has crash-landed on the moon of Endor. A boy named Mace and his much younger sister, Cindel, end up alone when their parents go missing after the crash. These two kids are the main characters in the movie. It gives me some serious Anakin Skywalker Phantom Menace flashbacks. At first, the kids really annoyed me, especially Cindel, who is about five years old. The bad acting stopped bothering me as much when I just sat back and took this movie for what it is: a made-for-TV kids movie. (Sorry, that exact same realization was still not enough to save the Holiday Special.)

The two kids are found by a group of Ewoks. Warwick Davis reprises his role of Wicket, the little Ewok who finds Leia in Return of the Jedi. The kids follow the ewoks to their village, which is on the ground instead of in the trees. These Ewoks raise animals, including horses, goats, rabbits, chickens, llamas, and more, so it kind of makes sense for them to live on the ground. Seeing all of these animals in a Star Wars movie was a little bit jarring, but Obi-wan talks about ducks in the novelization of A New Hope, so who cares! (“What’s a duck?” – Luke Skywalker)

star-wars-llama

The kids are eventually able to explain to the Ewoks that their parents are missing, and the Ewoks decide to help the kids find them. Though the Ewoks don’t speak English, they eventually learn some English words from the children, including “star cruiser,” “crash,” “dad,” and a more. Why didn’t the Ewoks know any English words in Return of the Jedi then? Especially since these are the same Ewoks. Apparently when the crew was making this movie, they assumed that it took place 150 years after Return of the Jedi. Sometime after that, they changed the date, because it didn’t really make sense to have Wicket the Ewok still so young 150 years after we first met him.

boar-wolfThere is some pretty cool (albeit, very fake-looking) stop-motion animation in this movie. The group gets chased through this forest by this pretty terrifying creature who makes really creepy noises. I feel like this would have seriously scared me as a kid. Even today, there’s something about stop-motion that just kind of creeps me out. Take the stop-motion Terminator at the end of the first Terminator movie, and compare it to the CGI Terminators from the later movies. The original stop-motion one is waaayyy creepier. It is truly a thing of nightmares. The CGI ones? Not so much. Am I the only one who thinks that? Okay, I’m getting off-topic.

The group eventually does go to an Ewok village up in the trees, just like what we remember from Return of the Jedi. Here, the group receives some magic items that are supposed to help them on their quest. Oh yeah, there’s magic in this movie. My first reaction to this is “that’s stupid,” until I remember that Star Wars isn’t actually science-fiction, and is really much more of a fantasy story. Plus, there are a lot of other instances of magic in Star Wars, including very prominent uses of magic in The Clone Wars TV series. It doesn’t make that much sense to complain about magic in a universe that has things like The Force, which is, you know, basically magic.

Though, this does leave me with one question. If the Ewoks are able to use magic, why are they so amazed by a flying C-3PO in Return of the Jedi? And why don’t they use magic in the battle against the Empire? Am I overthinking this? I don’t care!

Another interesting thing is that apparently the Forest Moon of Endor isn’t just a forest. Our group of Ewoks travels across plains, deserts, and mountains in this movie. “Forest Moon” is a bit of a misleading description I guess.

endor-desert

Eventually the group makes it to the cave of the evil Gorax, a giant Wookiee-like creature who trapped the childrens’ parents in a cage that is hanging from the ceiling. With the help of the Ewoks, Mace is able to jump up to the cage and climb inside it. Well, great, now isn’t he stuck in there too? Apparently not, because I guess there was a super-long rope in there! So Mace and his parents climb out of the cage with the rope. Why couldn’t his parents have climbed down on their own if they had a rope in there the whole time?? I actually rewatched this part of the movie just to make sure that Mace didn’t bring the rope up there with him. He didn’t. It was already in the cage. I DON’T GET IT.

cindel-ewoksThe kids are eventually reunited with their parents and everyone seems happy and then the movie just ends. They never fix their ship and they never get off the moon of Endor.

Apparently this movie was successful enough for a sequel to be made, so one year later, Ewoks: The Battle of Endor was released. I have seen it before, but I really don’t remember what happens. Something about a witch who can turn into a crow or whatever. Sounds weird to me. But I’ll review the sequel next time!

This movie isn’t that bad. I mean, it’s not good, but for a kids movie it’s pretty decent. I honestly think I enjoyed this more than The Clone Wars movie. Maybe it’s my nostalgia for ’80s movies (almost all of my favorite movies are from the ’80s), but there is a certain charm to this movie. This is definitely something that young children would enjoy, and that adults can at least tolerate. This is a movie I would recommend to parents of young children. Other than that, I think most people wouldn’t get much out of this, as it doesn’t have much to offer, and it really has nothing at all to do with Star Wars.

Score: 5/10

Review – “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” – Movie (2008)

the-clone-wars-movie-poster“Ready he is, to teach an apprentice. To let go of his pupil, a greater challenge it will be. Master this, Skywalker must.” – Yoda


 

With the imminent release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story next month, I thought now would be a fun time to look back at the other Star Wars spin-off movies that came before.

The internet is going crazy making all kinds of incorrect assumptions about Rogue One, labeling it “the first Star wars spin-off” and writing articles with headlines like “Rogue One to be the First Star Wars Film Without an Opening Crawl” (not to mention the false assumption that many bothans are going to die in the movie. Wrong Death Star, guys). So let’s just set the record straight. Rogue One is not the first Star Wars spin-off movie. It is the fifth one. We’ve had two live-action Ewok movies, The Clone Wars animated movie, and of course everyone’s favorite; The Star Wars Holiday Special. None of these movies had opening crawls either, just in case the idea of a Star Wars movie without one seems sacrilegious to you. Sure, Rogue One is the first high-budget Disney-made Star Wars spin-off, but it’s far from the first spin-off movie. I’ve already written a long post about the Holiday Special, but I thought I’d take a look at the other three spin-off movies before we all go see Rogue One in a few short weeks.

As a huge fan of The Clone Wars TV series that came after this movie, I thought it would be interesting to go back to where it all started, with the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on August 15th, 2008. This was three years after Revenge of the Sith had come out, so this was a time when Star Wars was pretty much finished, as far as the main saga went. We still had our Expanded Universe novels, comics, and video games, but we were done getting new Star Wars movies for all we knew, so the fact that this movie even existed was exciting for some.

clone-wars-anakinI remember seeing the trailer for this movie and being excited at the idea of being able to watch a Star Wars movie in the theater one more time, even though the movie didn’t look particularly good. But, the movie came and went, and I never saw it in the theater. I don’t remember there being much promotion for the movie, and even though I was a massive Star Wars fan, I somehow let the theatrical run of this movie slip by me (a mistake I certainly did not repeat when The Force Awakens came out, which I waited hours in line for on opening night, and then saw seven more times in the theater before the movie came out on Blu-ray). So, I didn’t see this movie until it was out on DVD. I had a friend come over who I had previously seen Revenge of the Sith with in the theater so we could watch the movie together. We didn’t really know what to expect. I’m going to give you two points of view in this review: My first impression of the movie after that first time I watched it, and how I feel about the movie today after repeat viewings.

Well, this movie left a terrible first impression on me. I couldn’t believe I had just seen a Star Wars movie that was so awful (keep in mind, I hadn’t yet watched The Holiday Special or the Ewok movies). I pretty much hated it. The story was bad, the acting (or voice acting, I guess) was bad, the dialogue was terrible, the attempts at comic-relief made Jar Jar Binks look like comedy gold, and I really hated Ahsoka Tano and couldn’t understand why they would give Anakin a padawan who was never mentioned in the main movies. I just didn’t like the movie it at all. Because of this movie I avoided watching The Clone Wars TV series for almost three years.

Here’s what I think of the movie now, after having grown to love the TV series and having watched the entire series twice: it’s still bad.

Okay, maybe it was pointless to give you both points of view when they’re basically the same. But, I don’t hate the movie as much after having watched the entire TV series. It’s kind of fun to go back and see how it all stared, even if it makes you cringe.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Clone Wars introduces us to Anakin Skywalker’s padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano. What?? Anakin had a padawan in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith? Why did we never hear about her before? Well, eight years later, there’s still no good answer to that question. Ahsoka is an annoying young girl who is quite whiny and snippy. I hated her in this movie, and was not excited about her being a main character in the TV series that came after. Anakin is not happy about having to train a padawan, and the two don’t get along for a while.

rotta-the-huttletJabba the Hutt’s son (apparently he has one of those) is kidnapped by bounty hunters, and Jabba asks the Jedi to help find him. Anakin and Ahsoka are assigned by the Jedi Council to find and return Jabba’s son, in hopes that Jabba will allow the Clone army to pass through Hutt Space for doing so. Meanwhile, Count Dooku (with the help of Asajj Ventress) is doing what he can to prevent the safe return of Jabba’s son and to frame the Jedi for the abduction and murder of the little guy. It’s a pretty unexciting story that might have worked as a few episodes of a TV show, but definitely is not worthy of being a feature film.

The first big problem with this movie is the fact that it was never even supposed to be a movie. It was just supposed to be a few episodes of the TV series, but somewhere along the line they decided to mash a few of the episodes together and release it as a movie. The thing it, it feels like a bunch of TV show episodes mashed together. It doesn’t flow well as a feature film and it is pretty obvious that it was never meant to be one.

Weirdly, this movie actually takes place after a few of the epidoes of the TV show. For some reason, The Clone Wars TV series did not air in chronological order. After the series was finished, starwars.com put out a list of all Clone Wars episodes (including this movie) in the correct viewing order, which occasionally requires you to jump back and forth between seasons.

battle-droidThe attempts at comic relief really rubbed me the wrong way when I first saw this movie. The prime offenders are the battle droids. I hate the battle droids in this movie, and it’s not because they’re the bad guys. It’s because they’re constantly used for comedic purposes that just aren’t funny at all. I think the show writers realized this, because as the TV series goes on, the droids are used less and less as comic relief, thank goodness. There are other failed attempts at humor scattered throughout the movie, but none as bad as the battle droids.

I don’t remember what I thought about the animation when I first saw the movie, but watching it now is kind of painful. The TV series looked better and better with each passing season, until it eventually became what I consider the most beautifully-animated TV show I’ve ever seen. The later seasons look gorgeous. This movie, in comparison, looks pretty terrible. There are even some shots of the movie that are clearly unfinished, with very rough animation. Since this movie was their first try, and since the animation got so much better as the TV series progressed, I can give this a pass. But still, it looks bad. Animations are awkward and unnatural, the environments are extra bland, and the textures used on many of the characters just do not look good.

The music is also bad. Okay, Star Wars set the bar pretty high for great musical scores, so it’s no surprise that a lower-budget spin-off film doesn’t hit that standard. The problem isn’t that the music sounds like “less good” Star Wars music; the problem is that it doesn’t sound like Star Wars at all. I kept getting pulled out of the movie because the music felt so out of place. Bringing heavily-distorted electric guitars into the mix was probably the worst part, but even when the score stuck to more traditional instruments, it still sounded nothing like Star Wars. This is another thing that they must have realized was a mistake, because the TV series had music that sounded a lot more like Star Wars.

captain-rexThis movie introduces us to a few important new characters. Aside from Ahsoka, we get to meet Asajj Ventress, Captain Rex, and Ziro the Hutt. Ventress actually appeared in other Expanded Universe stories before making her appearance in this movie, and the movie seems to assume that you’re familiar with at least some of them, because the movie doesn’t bother explaining who she is or where she came from. Captain Rex is Anakin’s Clone Commander, the leader of the 501st Clone Battalion (the 501st Legion eventually becomes Darth Vader’s personal legion of stormtroopers), and he is probably the clone that we get to know best over the course of the TV series (and, eventually in Star Wars Rebels as well). We don’t see much of him in this movie though, and so we don’t really get a good feel for his character. And then, there’s Ziro the Hutt…

Ugh…ziro-the-hutt

Ziro the Hutt is literally my least favorite Star Wars character of all time. I hate this guy. I would watch a trilogy of Jar Jar movies before having to sit through any more Ziro the Hutt stories. I’d rather watch a TV series about the guy who pours drinks into his volcano head from the Holiday Special. Ziro just annoys me to no end. The way he acts is annoying, but mostly, it’s his voice. His accent combined with the way the he talks drives me insane (by the way, he speaks English for some reason, unlike his nephew, Jabba). Whenever this guy pops up on-screen, I’m in misery. His character design isn’t bad though. He looks kind of cool for a Hutt. But I hate him.

One cool thing about this movie is that Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson reprised their roles of Count Dooku and Mace Windu. This is notable because they did not continue to voice the characters in the TV series. But at least we get them for this one movie.

Anakin isn’t my favorite in this movie, but this Clone Wars version of Anakin eventually becomes my favorite version of Anakin, bar none. He’s still kind of annoying in this movie, but over the course of the show this version of Anakin becomes so much more likable than the live-action version, and his fall to the dark side feels much more gradual and realistic.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Was there anything about this movie that I actually liked though? If you take this movie as a standalone–ignoring the TV series and other stories that came after it–then no. This movie is bad. Am I being a little harsh towards a movie that was clearly aimed at a younger audience than the main-series Star Wars films? Maybe, a little bit. But good kids’ movies are still enjoyable for adults too. While I can easily see young children enjoying this movie, I can’t really see anyone else having a fun time watching this.

But here’s the one huge positive that I can sort of take from this movie: Though I complained about her in this review, and I truly can’t stand her in this movie, Ahsoka Tano went on to become a great character in the TV show. I hated her when I first saw this movie, and it took me a long time to warm up to her in the show, but as she grew as a Jedi she became more mature, less annoying, and eventually ended up being a total badass. I’m being completely honest when I say that Ahsoka Tano is one of my favorite Star Wars characters of all time. And looking back, it’s kind of fun to see how an annoying teenage girl evolved over time into the character that I enjoy so much today. Her last appearance in The Clone Wars TV series is not only one of the best parts of the entire show, but one of my favorite moments in all of Star Wars. And I was thrilled when she came back years later in Star Wars Rebels. I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this movie, but I’m definitely glad that it introduced us to such a great character, even if I didn’t think she was so great at the time. The only reason I would recommend this movie to anyone is because it introduces us to Ahoska Tano.

ahsoka-vader-rebels

Score: 4/10

Review – “The Star Wars Holiday Special” (1978)

HolidaySpecialPoster“Stir whip stir whip whip whip stir!”—Gormaanda


The infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. What more can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? Growing up I had heard about the Holiday Special for years, and was always curious to see it. In high school I found a download of the Special online and I got together with a group of my friends who are also big Star Wars fans to watch it. None of us had seen it before. We were all looking forward to it, despite being very aware that the Holiday Special was universally hated. How bad could it really be though? It had to be entertaining at least for a good laugh, right? We turned on the TV and hit play. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

The next hour and a half of our lives proved to be a painful test of endurance, to see how long we could actually make it without shutting the movie off and trying to have our short-term memories erased. All curiosity I had about the Holiday Special faded away very quickly and I just could not wait for it to end. Somehow we actually made it all the way through, but it was torture.

Years later I was with another group of friends who found out that I still had the Star Wars Holiday Special saved on my computer. They tried to convince me to watch it with them, and I tried to tell them how bad of an idea that was. I never actually intended to watch the Holiday Special a second time, even though I kept the file on my computer. Somehow, against my will, they managed to get their wish, and started watching the Holiday Special on our TV. I was keeping myself occupied with other things, because I really, really didn’t want to watch it. Less than 15 minutes later, my friends who wanted to watch it so badly asked me to please turn it off. Thank goodness!

Fast forward to the present day. For some reason I got it in my head that it would be a good idea to write about the Star Wars Holiday Special now that I have this blog. Now that the holiday season has started it felt appropriate. There was only one problem: I haven’t watched the Holiday Special since that first time I watched it all those years ago. I remembered not liking it, but I didn’t remember a lot of specifics. In order to write about the Holiday Special I decided I had to watch it again.

As I sat down and watched it a few days ago, my brother couldn’t believe how stupid it was, and my mother was absolutely convinced that the Special was made as a joke.

The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on November 17th, 1978. After that it never aired on TV again, and no version of the Holiday Special was ever released on home video. So the only way we have access to it now is through low-quality VHS recordings of the original showing that people have uploaded onto the internet.

You know what’s really weird to think about? The Star Wars Holiday Special is, in a way, the first sequel to the original Star Wars movie. This movie aired about a year and a half after the first movie came out, and about a year and a half before Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back came out. So, what I’m getting at is, The Star Wars Holiday Special is basically the real Star Wars Episode V.

Alright, sorry for being so sacrilegious right there. In no universe should the Holiday Special be considered an actual sequel to the original Star Wars.

I could go on and on about what is wrong with the Holiday Special (and I will later in this post, trust me), but as bad as it is there actually are good things about it. Let’s talk about the good things first:

ChewiesFamilyFor one, the Holiday Special introduces us to Chewbacca’s family. Or at least his wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. Okay, those names are pretty awful, but thanks to the good ol’ Expanded Universe we eventually learn that their full names are Mallatobuck, Lumpawaroo, and Attichitcuk, which feel more like appropriate alien names. Their full names are never uttered in the Holiday Special, so we’re stuck with “Lumpy” and “Itchy.” That’s unfortunate.

Chewbacca’s family members become reoccurring characters in the Expanded Universe, and we even get to eventually see Lumpawaroo as an adult. As the years went on and the Expanded Universe grew bigger and bigger, we were introduced to more and more of Chewbacca’s relatives, including his nephew, Lowbacca, who went on to become a Jedi Knight in Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Order. That is cool! But our first introduction to Chewbacca’s family is here in the Holiday Special.

Along with meeting Chewbacca’s family, this is also the first time we get to see the Wookiee home-planet of Kashyyyk. The planet was later featured in other stories in the Expanded Universe, but It wasn’t until almost 30 years later that we would eventually see this planet on-screen again in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We don’t get to see much of the planet in the Holiday Special, but it is still a cool thing to see where Wookiees live who aren’t honoring life-debts they owe to smugglers.

Kashyyyk

It is neat to see how much Chewbacca cares about his familyand how much his family loves himand how important it is for him to make it home to celebrate Life Day with them, which one of the Wookiees’ most important holidays. Han Solo also loves Chewie’s family members, and is very close with them as well. These are neat little tidbits of information we get about Han and Chewie that we never get to explore in the regular movies.

Another good thing? They got the whole main cast of Star Wars to reprise their roles in the Special (except Alec Guinness for obvious reasons). Now, that doesn’t save the Special from being awful, but imagine how much more awful it would have been if, for example, they would have had some other random actor playing Han Solo! (I’m looking at you, future Han Solo spin-off movie…) Until The Force Awakens comes out, The Star Wars Holiday Special is the only other place you’re going to get to see the whole main cast of the Original Trilogy in-character, playing their roles from the original movies outside of the first three movies. So, that is kind of cool I guess.

There are a few short scenes of Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon on their way to Kashyyyk that are pretty cool, and are really the only moments of this entire thing that actually feel like Star Wars. If more of the Special could have been like these scenes, we might have had something watchable.

There is a short 10 minute cartoon in the middle of the Holiday Special that is actually pretty great, despite an animation style that is distractingly weird on occasion. This cartoon is by far the best part of the entire Holiday Special, and it was actually included as an easter egg on the Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga, making this cartoon the only part of the Holiday Special that ever saw an official release on home video.

The greatest contribution the Holiday Special brought to the Star Wars universe is the introduction of Boba Fett, which happens in this short cartoon. It might come as a surprise to some that Boba Fett’s first appearance was here, and not in The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s the truth! And I dare say his introduction in the Holiday Special is a much better introduction than the one we got in Empire.

BobaFett

The cartoon shows our main characters’ first encounter with Boba Fett. Luke—along with R2-D2 and C-3PO—travels to an alien moon, looking for Han Solo and Chewbacca, who crash landed there earlier. Upon landing they are attacked by a massive alien creature, but they are saved by a man named Boba Fett. Boba and Luke bond over the realization that they both have no love for the Empire, and Boba calls Luke his friend. Boba earns Luke’s trust and says he will help Luke find Han Solo and Chewbacca. When they find the Millennium Falcon, they find that Han has been infected by a “sleeping virus” caused by a strange talisman that was aboard the Falcon. Luke also falls prey to the virus and falls unconscious as well. Boba Fett assures Chewbacca, Artoo, and Threepio that he will find an antidote for the virus. Chewbacca insists on coming with Boba to the town to get the antidote. While the two are gone, Artoo intercepts a transmission from Darth Vader, who is communicating with Boba Fett. Artoo learns that Boba is not the “friend” he claims to be. Fett does get the antidote however, and returns with Chewbacca to heal Han and Luke. When the two wake up, Artoo and Threepio break the news of Boba Fett’s alliance with Darth Vader, calling him “Darth Vader’s right hand man” and revealing that this has all been part of an Imperial plot. Boba Fett assures them that they will meet again as he escapes through a hatch in the Millennium Falcon.

It’s a cool little short story and by far the most entertaining portion of the Holiday Special. It’s actually good, which can’t really be said about any other part of the Holiday Special.

Which takes us to what’s wrong with the Special. Aside from the things mentioned above, I could keep this real short and just leave it at “everything is wrong!” But, let’s dig a litter deeper…

Star-Destroyer-ChaseThe plot centers on Chewbacca and Han trying to get back to Kashyyyk so that Chewie can be with his family for Life Day, which is one of the most important holidays for the Wookiees. Due to some pesky Imperials, getting home is proving to be much more difficult than Chewie had hoped, and it’s starting to look like he might not make it home in time. His family is waiting for him, hoping he’ll make it home safely so they can be with him again. That’s the really short version of the story. You’ve got the basic idea now.

The opening scene of the Holiday Special is of Han and Chewie in the Millennium Falcon, trying to outrun a pair of Star Destroyers. They are on their way to Kashyyyk so that Chewie can be with his family for Life Day. Han tells Chewie that this is too dangerous, and that he’s going to turn back. Chewbacca insists that they continue, and Han listens, promising Chewie that he’ll get him home in time for the celebration. They jump to hyperspace and escape the Star Destroyers.

Okay, not a bad opening scene actually. But it’s only 30 seconds long. A 30-second tease that successfully pulls you in, and gets your hopes up for what’s to come.

What comes next is a drawn-out opening credits scene with a narrator announcing the names of each actor and the character they portray. Was this really necessary? Back in the ’70s it was the norm to have opening credits in a movie, whereas today it is common for a movie not to have opening credits at all. The original Star Wars movie had no opening credits, and after the success of the first film, George Lucas got in lot of trouble for not putting opening credits in the second movie. Though it wasn’t the first movie to omit opening credits, Star Wars is generally credited for popularizing the lack of opening credits in movies. The point is, it was a big deal for Star Wars not to have opening credits, so it’s annoying that the Holiday Special has them.

If that isn’t the nitpickiest of complaints, then I don’t know what is. But I’m going to keep complaining about the credits.

The main Star Wars theme music starts playing, the narrator starts talking, and the credits start rolling. “The Star Wars Holiday Special!” the voice says. “Starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.” Then a face shows up on the screen and—WHAT?!

Holiday-Special-Luke

This is not the Luke Skywalker I remember.

Even though it is Mark Hamill playing Luke Skywalker, somehow they still managed to make the character look nothing like Luke Skywalker. I mean, look at him! He just looks so goofy. And his haircut looks ridiculous throughout the whole thing.

Holiday-Special-Luke-Skywalker.jpg

I can’t get over it. I actually think this is hilarious.

After the credits we are taken to Chewbacca’s home on Kashyyyk where we get to meet Chewie’s family, who are waiting for him to arrive. Meeting Chewie’s family! That sounds cool! Right? Well, for the next ten minutes we are treated to watching three Wookiees speak in their incoherent Wookiee language to each other. There are no subtitles. Just Wookiee sounds. For ten minutes. At one point Chewie’s father Itchy sets up a holoprojector so that Lumpy can watch an odd dance performance set to some silly music. Thanks for breaking up the monotony by being even more boring than what I was already watching.

Eventually Chewie’s family contacts Luke via Skype, apparently to ask him where Chewie is, and we finally get to hear someone speak a language we actually understand. Luke says that Chewie should have already arrived, and if he’s not there then that must mean he ran into trouble. The Wookiees start to worry, and Luke decides to ignore what he just said and reassures them that everything is just fine and that Chewbacca will be there soon.

Saun-DannChewie’s wife then makes another video call to their friend Saun Dann, a Human who lives on Kashyyyk. Apparently in Star Wars they have the kind of video calls where when you call someone you instantly get a direct video feed of what is going on inside their house, regardless of whether they answered your call or not. An Imperial Guard is visiting Saun’s shop, and Saun has to deal with him before he can talk with Malla. Saun tries to find something in his shop that he thinks the guard will like, so he pulls out a “pocket-size aquarium” and tries to tell the guard how awesome it is because you can take it with you anywhere. I’ve always wanted to take an aquarium with me everywhere I go! The guard is not impressed and simply replies “I hate fish.”

Saun finally answers Malla’s call, even though Malla had been watching that entire interaction with the guard. I’m not sure what the point of this call was, but Saun speaks to Malla using some “clever” code words so the Imperial Guard won’t understand, referring to Chewbacca as “that shaggy carpet.” Saun assures Malla that the “carpet” is on its way and that it is made “by hand… Solo.”

Okay. Stop. This is terrible.

That doesn’t even make sense! Like… what? I don’t understand the point of that scene or Malla’s conversation with Suan at all. On top of that, the whole scene is filled with some of the worst attempts at humor I’ve seen. It’s all so cringeworthy.

Next we get to see Darth Vader for like 20 seconds before he vanishes from the rest of the Special completely. He tells his officer that he wants every household on Kashyyyk searched for rebels. Then he’s gone, and we’re taken back to Chewie’s family.

For the next little while we get to watch Malla trying to prepare some sort of food by following a cooking video. This is one of the worst parts of the entire Special. It only goes on for four minutes, but it feels like forever. The woman in the cooking video is one of the strangest women you’ve ever seen. Her cooking instructions are so ridiculous and borderline impossible, and everything about this scene is so over-the-top. The woman starts getting crazier and crazier the more she gets into preparing her food, and she eventually sprouts a third arm, and then a fourth. Malla is trying desperately to keep up with the insane cooking instructions. You can tell that this scene was meant to be funny, but like the rest of the Holiday Special the attempts at humor are just awful.

Stir-Whip-Stir-Whip

Cut back to space. Han and Chewie are outrunning more Imperials. I guess they didn’t escape earlier after all. This time they’ve gotten themselves into a dogfight with some TIE Fighters. Again I find myself wishing that the entire Holiday Special could have been more like these short space scenes.

Back on Kashyyyk, an Imperial broadcast plays notifying the Wookiees that the Empire has declared martial law and that a blockade has been set up around the planet due to suspected rebel activity (but he pronounces the planet name as “Kazook”). That must be one massive blockade! Chewbacca’s family is losing hope that Chewbacca will make it home for Life Day.

Saun then shows up at the Wookiee’s home, and he brings the three of them gifts, because let’s be honest, Life Day is Christmas. He gives Lumpy a kit to build a transmitter, and he gives Malla a device that apparently plays holovids.

Saun’s gift for Itchy is the creepiest part of the Holiday Special. Saun turns to Itchy and says “I know what you like.” He brings Itchy to a virtual reality chair—called a “Mind Evaporator”—in the middle of the living room and he pulls a chip out of his pocket that he inserts into the chair. Saun tells Itchy “I thought you might like this. It’s one of those, uh… It’s a real… It’s kinda hard to explain it’s a uh… ‘wow’… if you know what I mean.”

It’s a real “wow” if you know what I mean?!…

?!?!?!

If you think I’m looking too far into this, trying to skew something innocent into something creepy or inappropriate, just… just read on…

Mind-EvaporatorSaun tells him “happy Life Day!” and walks away. Itchy is clearly excited and pulls the chair’s virtual reality visor over his face. Saun comes back two seconds after leaving, leans in close to Itchy, and says again in a much more suggestive voice “I do mean ‘happy Life Day.’”

What. The heck. Is going on.

Itchy turns the chair on. Soothing, hypnotic music starts playing, and then we get to see what Itchy is seeing. For the first minute we’re looking at what appears to be strange people in white clothing swimming around through what looks like the inside of a dark kaleidoscope, and basically it feels like you’re tripping major ballsack.

After a minute of that, Itchy hears a woman’s voice say “I know you’re searching for me.” A young, human woman appears, and tells Itchy that she is the creation of his mind and is for his eyes only. “I’m getting your message. Are you getting mine?” she asks Itchy, to which the Wookiee replies with an excited growl. “Oh… oh… We are excited aren’t we?” she says. The woman tells Itchy to relax and then says “now we can have a good time, can’t we?” Itchy is clearly excited out of his mind.

Do you get it now? Do you get why this is so weird?

The woman says to Itchy “I find you adorable.” Itchy then rewinds the video to hear her say that again… and then he does it again…. and again.

“I am your fantasy. I am your experience, so experience me. I am your pleasure. Enjoy me. This is our moment together in time. That we might turn this moment into an eternity.”

Diahann-Carroll

The woman in the Mind Evaporator—played by Diahann Carroll—then goes on to sing Itchy a song called “This Minute Now” and the rest of Itchy’s experience in the chair is basically just him watching a music video.

That was weird.

One of the producers of the Holiday Special, Mitzie Welch, later went on to say that that entire scene was intended to be “soft-core porno that would pass the censors.”

So, it turns out The Star Wars Holiday Special is also soft-core pornography.

wow

Uhh… Anyway…

After Itchy finishes enjoying himself in the middle of the living room, Malla gets a video call from Princess Leia and C-3PO. Leia wishes Malla a happy Life Day, but Malla says that she’s seen happier ones because Chewbacca isn’t with her. Leia then asks Saun, who is still at the house for some reason, to look after the Wookiees until Chewbacca gets home. I don’t really know why she wants him to do that, but whatever. He agrees.

The movie then cuts back to Han and Chewie, who are approaching Kashyyyk. Han is surprised because he has never seen so much Imperial traffic around this planet before. It doesn’t seem to be a problem because they land anyway.

Chewbacca’s family hears the Millennium Falcon fly overhead and they all get excited. Malla and Lumpy run to the front door and open it, only to find two stormtroopers pointing their guns at them, with two other Imperial officers.

Meet the laziest Imperials in the galaxy. These guys seem to be looking for every possible excuse to waste time and not get their job done that they possibly can. They enter the Wookiees’ home, searching for evidence of rebel activity. However, they are quickly distracted by Saun, who convinces one of the officers to try out the gift he gave Malla earlier. The officer casually sits at the table, and Saun turns on the device which begins playing a holographic music video of Jefferson Starship playing their song “Light the Sky on Fire”.

No. You didn’t misread that.

The band Jefferson Starship is in Star Wars.

Jefferson-Starship

The officer watches the entire music video—which is about five minutes long—and clearly enjoys it, smiling when it is over. What a great way to kill five minutes while on the job! A 2014 article on starwars.com titled “Slugthrowers: An Overview of Popular Music and Musicians in a Galaxy Far, Far Away” states that “Light the Sky on Fire” “proved inexplicably popular in the Kashyyyk holo-market.” Apparently the Wookiees are big fans of Jefferson Starship. Who knew?

After the music video ends, the Imperials tell Saun to leave, and he does. The Imperials continue their search of the house, and Lumpy sits down to watch the Boba Fett cartoon I talked about earlier.

It is the best.

Artoo-Threepio-Cartoon

After the cartoon we see a stormtrooper and one of the Imperial officers ransacking Lumpy’s bedroom. Then the officer does the most evil thing I think I have ever seen an Imperial do on-screen: he picks up Lumpy’s stuffed animal, and rips its head off for no reason!

When Lumpy goes upstairs and finds his room in ruins and his toy’s head ripped off, he begins to cry, AND IT’S THE SADDEST THING EVER.

Why?! The Star Wars Holiday Special has no right to make me feel sad for any of these characters when it is such a terrible movie. But it really is very sad. Lumpy sits there with his toy, crying and trying to put its head back on. He can’t do it, so he takes the stuffed animal over to his bed, lays it down, tucks it in under his blanket, and kisses it on the head. It is so sweet and sad. I’ll give this part points for being one of the only parts of the entire movie to make me feel an emotion other than embarrassment or disgust.

Lumpy then gets a great idea, and pulls out the transmitter kit that Saun gave him for Life Day. He takes out all the pieces and starts watching an instructional video on how to put it together.

Amorphiian.jpgThis part is painful to watch. The instructional video stars “an Amorphiian being” who tells the viewer how to put the transmitter together. But before he starts talking, another voice warns the viewer that “the motor abilities of Amorphiian citizens are frequently impaired by malfunction, which results in a temporary loss of power.” In other words, Amorphiians are basically like regular humans, only every few seconds they stutter, experience erratic spasms, temporarily lose the ability to speak, or shut down completely.

Watching the instructional video is frustrating because the Amorphiian spends most of the time malfunctioning. The video lasts about four minutes, and we get to watch the entire thing. What company would include an instructional video that is this bad with one of their products? I know it was supposed to be funny (somehow) but come on. I’m obviously taking this too seriously.

Lumpy puts the transmitter together, and then we are taken back downstairs into the living room. The Imperials are still there, standing around doing nothing, until another Imperial broadcast starts playing on the Wookiees’ TV screen. The voice coming over the broadcast says that it is required viewing for all members of the Imperial forces.

A program called “Life on Tatooine” begins playing and the Imperials gather around the TV and start watching. It’s not like they were busy doing anything else.

Immediately I am confused by why this would be “required viewing” for all members of the Imperial forces. We get to watch the entire video, and not only is it one of the worst parts of the whole Holiday Special (am I saying that about a lot of different parts? Well, they all deserve it), but it’s also thirteen minutes long and has nothing to do with the rest of the movie!

Mos-Eisley

“Life on Tatooine” takes us back to the Mos Eisley cantina that we first visited in the original Star Wars movie. The Bith band who played the famous music in that movie are still at the cantina and they’re still playing the exact same music.

There are really two storylines in this program. The first one involves a weird man with a volcano head named Krelman, who is infatuated with the bartender, Ackmena. He tries to flirt with her, but she is just not interested in him. Last time Krelman left the bar, Ackmena said to him “come back soon. I’ll be waiting” and Krelman mistook that as her flirting with him. As Krelman is sitting at the bar, another costumer gets up and leaves, and Ackmena says “come back soon. I’ll be waiting.” Krelman realizes that she says that to everybody and gives up.

Frankly, Krelman creeps me out. Not because of how he desperately tries to flirt with the bartender, but because he looks really friggin’ creepy with a big hole in the top of his head. When he gets a drink, instead of drinking it with his mouth, he pours it into his head. It’s freaky. I am not a fan of Krelman. His species has never again appeared in anything else Star Wars, and I’m okay with that.

Krelman

The second storyline also takes place in the bar. After Krelman gives up on Ackmena, an Imperial broadcast starts playing in the cantina, saying that an Imperial curfew has been put into effect on Tatooine, and that all citizens must return to their homes immediately.

The costumers at the bar ignore the broadcast, and Ackmena tries to get them all to leave. She tells them the bar is closed and that the law requires them all to leave, but nobody gets up. The Bith band starts playing music again, and suddenly the scene becomes a musical, with Ackmena randomly breaking out into song and dance. Through the power of music she somehow gets the patrons of the bar to cooperate and they all end up leaving. The day is saved thanks to music! And to think this was over 35 years before Disney bought Star Wars.

This part never made sense to me. The Holiday Special is full of musical numbers, but all of the other ones made sense in-universe. They were all videos or holograms that the other characters were watching for entertainment. This musical number was the bartender at Mos Eisely randomly breaking out into song and dance out of nowhere. It doesn’t make sense. But I really shouldn’t be trying to find logical explanations for things in this movie.

Ackmena-Cantina

Interestingly enough, Ackmena is actually seen again in the Star Wars universe. She makes an appearance in the Fate of the Jedi series of books, which takes place about 40 years after the Holiday Special.

When “Life on Tatooine” is finally over, the Imperials in Chewbacca’s home receive a call telling them to return to base. So, after a hard day’s work of standing around, watching music videos, ripping heads off of stuffed animals, and watching TV shows, three of the Imperials leave, but one stormtrooper stays at the house, waiting for the arrival of Chewbacca.

Han-Solo-Wookiee-FamilyThe stormtrooper goes upstairs, only to find that the “return to base” message was actually sent out by Lumpy, using his new transmitter. The stormtrooper catches Lumpy sending out false transmissions, and smashes his transmitter. The stormtrooper then chases Lumpy downstairs and outside of the house where they bump in to Chewbacca and Han Solo. Han knocks the blaster out of the stormtrooper’s hands, and then the stormtrooper trips, and falls off the balcony to his death.

Han and Chewbacca go inside the house and greet Chewbacca’s family. Han gives them all hugs and tells them that they are like family to him. He then says that he has to get back to the Falcon and says goodbye to them all, including Chewie.

Chewie has a happy reunion with his family, and they all hug. Saun Dann comes back for some reason, and then they receive an emergency call from an Imperial officer, who is asking where the stormtrooper who remained at their house is. Saun responds to the officer and tells him that the stormtrooper robbed them and ran off. The officer doesn’t question it, and doesn’t bother them again. Uh, okay.

Saun wishes them all a happy Life Day and then leaves. Chewbacca and his family begin their Life Day traiditions. They all grab some sort of lanterns, and then they—along with many other Wookiees—go to the Tree of Life, where the Wookiees gather together to celebrate.

Also present at the Tree of Life are R2-D2 and C-3PO. Threepio wishes all the Wookiees a happy Life Day, and then Luke and Leia show up with Han. Then for some reason Leia takes over the ceremony. She delivers an inspiring speech about love to the Wookiees, and then she breaks out in song (which is set to an arrangement of the Star Wars theme music) which is ridiculously out of character for her, but I’m gonna let it slide because this entire movie is so stupid. Hey idiots! Let the Wookiees lead their own holiday traditions!

Tree-Of-Life

After the celebration is over we see one final shot of Chewbacca and his family sitting around a table, ready to eat dinner. They take each other’s hands, and bow their heads in prayer, which I felt was a nice touch and at the same time realized would probably never fly in a modern Star Wars movie or TV show. The camera zooms out on a view of their house from the outside, and The Star Wars Holiday Special finally comes to a close.

And that’s it! I just spent almost my entire day off from work writing about one of my least favorite pieces of film I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. To be honest, watching it the second time, and knowing exactly what to expect before getting into it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was the first time. It was still bad, but I found it a little more enjoyable when I already knew what was coming.

The Star Wars Holiday Special is truly terrible. George Lucas said that he wanted every existing copy of it to be burned. It is so bad that it was considered “S-canon” in the old Expanded Universe canon system. This basically meant that everything in it was to be treated as non-canon unless referenced by another canonical work. So, even before Lucasfilm came out and said the Star Wars canon was getting rebooted, and announced that the entire Expanded Universe is now non-canon, the Holiday Special already was non-canon. So now it’s so non-canon that it’s not even canon in the non-canon.

Some authors did incorporate elements of what was seen in the Holiday Special into their stories, like how I mentioned that Ackmena appears in a book that was written much, much later. Author Jason Fry told me that he snuck in a reference to The Star Wars Holiday Special in his novel The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure. I must have missed that one, but it makes me happy that this piece of Star Wars history isn’t completely forgotten. Honestly, as bad as I think the Special is, I like to think that some version of these events really did happen in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Maybe just a less-stupid version.

Star-Wars-Holiday-Special

I cannot say that I recommend the Holiday Special to anyone. It is the worst piece of Star Wars media I have ever seen. If you really have to see it just because you’re curious, like I was, and your curiosity will not go away until you see it, then go ahead. But go into it with the worst possible expectations, because maybe then you’ll have a chance of enjoying some little part of it. The Boba Fett cartoon is worth checking out, at least.

Score: 1/10