Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon like no other, a science fiction monolith by which all other franchises set their bar. Its given us many incredible things over the years: John Williams‘ perfect scores, a universe beyond what many of us could ever imagine, and those little tribal teddy bears that manage to mix the adorable fun of a children’s petting zoo with a warrior’s spirit. I am, of course, talking about Ewoks.
First unleashed on the world in all their furry, stone-throwing glory during Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks are a misunderstood race, much maligned in Star Wars fandom and often forgotten altogether. But I fell in love with these tough, cute, and kind of creepy little balls of fuzz the first time I watched the third installment of everyone’s favorite space opera. My youthful obsession only grew when I discovered one of George Lucas’ television movie spinoffs, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
Set around six months after the events of A New Hope (and serving as a follow-up to the TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure), this film flings the most famous indigenous Endorian, Wicket W. Warrick, into a hard fantasy battle for (the forest moon of) his home planet. Befriending a young girl whose entire family is massacred within the first five minutes of the film, they team up to take down an evil witch and a rather problematic despotic demigod. Naturally, they defeat them because, as we all know, Ewoks always win!
The Ewoks’ prowess in battle is one of the reasons that many Star Wars fans have a huge problem with them. Viewers find their victory over the Empire in Return of the Jedi to be a stretch of the imagination longer than Max Rebo’s snout. I guess space wizards with laser swords are just a little bit more believable than moon bears with catapults? In my humble opinion I think they’re both pretty rad and I believe that there should be space (hehe *space*) for Ewoks in any true Star Wars fan’s heart.
Though Ewoks: The Battle for Endor was directed by Jim and Ken Wheat, the story was conceived by George Lucas, and is clearly a precursor to Lucas’ 1988 fantasy adventure and critical and commercial flop Willow, which also starred the man beneath Wicket’s fur, Warwick Davis. Straying from the world of pulpy science fiction he perfected in the Star Wars trilogy, Lucas created a fantasy setting for the Ewoks that was closer to something in the swords and sandals pages of Conan the Barbarian.
All in all, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a complete nostalgia trip, with awesome practical effects, creepy costuming, questionable child acting, and some seriously scary villains. Three decades after release, the film feels like a celluloid time capsule to the era when Lucasfilm was king and the studio’s namesake could do whatever he wanted… and apparently what he wanted was to make a fantasy movie that expanded the universe of his blockbuster trilogy through the use of mega-cuddly living plushies (who, by the way, don’t even speak in coherent sentences… but at least you can vaguely understand them, unlike than the Wookiees in Lucas’ first made-for-TV movie, the Star Wars Holiday Special).
So what do you think? Is Ewoks: The Battle For Endor a guilty pleasure you’ll be revisiting? Or are Ewoks still the worst thing to come out of the galaxy far, far away except for Jar Jar Binks? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm
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