Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
As we continue our retrospective of all things Star Wars in anticipation of Episode 9's release, we land on Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure also known as The Ewok Adventure.
After 1983’s Return of the Jedi, audiences were still clamoring for more Star Wars. While the next theatrical release was more than a decade away, there were TV projects of varying quality to help tide people over. The beloved Ewoks would go on to star in a few of those projects. The Ewok Adventure (1984), Ewoks: The Battle of Endor (1985), and Ewoks the animated series (1985) proved people loved those little teddy bears from Episode 6 and wanted to see more. While the cartoon was good, the two made for TV movies struggled from low budgets and poor acting.
The Ewok Adventure, or Caravan of Courage, starts when a family crashes their star ship on Endor, home of the Ewoks. The parents, separated from the children after the crash, are captured by a Gorax. The Gorax is another woolly inhabitant of Endor. Instead of being adorable little teddy bear creatures often accused of being created to sell toys, Gorax is a giant monster-looking creature that looks like really big Sasquatch if Sasquatches were made with low budgets.
Let’s talk about the accusation that Ewoks were created by George Lucas to sell toys. In 1983, I was seven. I saw nothing wrong with Ewoks. I loved them. I ran right out and bought all the Ewok toys. The figures. The village. The hang glider. The catapult. Nothing wrong with those little guys at all!
However, from a grown-up perspective, I get it. They’re cutesy, while the rest of the movies really weren’t. Also, Lucas would continue the behavior of creating silly characters to be popular with young children years later with characters like Jar Jar. However, I do not see the Ewoks in the same realm as Jar Jar. They may have been cutesy, but their scenes worked. They were fun and weren’t annoying. Jar Jar, on the other hand, was very annoying.
Ewoks worked in Jedi. Centering an entire movie around just them stretched their likability a little far. Warwick Davis’ little scuttle around as Wicket and all the other Ewoks should remain secondary characters rather than receiving the spotlight. The slow pacing of Caravan of Courage, the poor special effects, and the bad acting of the kids made this movie hard to watch. That is to say, back in 1984 I liked it. Rewatching it years later, it does not hold up.
After the adults are taken and held hostage by the Gorax, the kids seek the help of the Ewoks in saving their parents. The group set off for adventure. Along the way, they run afoul of big creatures, magic spells, lightning bug-like fairies, and other sources of danger. This all sounds more exciting that it was in reality, though. The whole movie plods along slowly.
The stars of the movie, the Ewoks, of course speak no English. The whole movie, these little guys are your leads, besides the children, and they don’t talk in ways that can be understood by the audience. A narrator has to relay most of the story. It gets old.
George Lucas wrote this movie. Yes, it’s bad, and the writing isn’t great, but it’s clearly written for kids. For that purpose, the movie kind of worked. That’s a saving grace for Lucas’ writing abilities at least. In 1984, I liked it. I was a kid. As an adult, I didn’t like it as much as I remembered. My kids liked it, a little. However, even my six-year-old twin boys got bored with the movie and stopped paying attention about half way through.
As the movie rambles through strange events that often make no sense towards its end, the Ewoks naturally get the kids reunited with their parents after battling the Gorax to the death. It’s for kids, remember, so it gets a happy ending. Or so you’d think. One of the main Ewoks gets killed in the final battle as well, pulling the heartstrings of all the little Star Wars fans.
While Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure isn’t a great movie and doesn’t hold up over the years since its release, audiences have to remember it was intended for young children. After Return of the Jedi, kids wanted more of the adorable teddy bear creatures, and that was this movie’s goal. Sadly, this movie is boring and strange rather than what one would call an "adventure". However, apparently it did well enough in TV ratings to earn a sequel a year later.
Though this Ewok adventure was made with the good intentions of entertaining children, it more fits the rule that someone will always run a popular concept into the ground if they can make a little more money off of it. If you watched Caravan of Courage in the 80's, nostalgia may pull you back in. If you didn't, I'd avoid this made for TV Star Wars entry unless you're showing it to kids who have nothing better to do.
Next up in the Star Wars retrospective series, we'll move along to the next Episode and review Attack of the Clones.
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure – An Adventure Meant for Kids
Writing - 6.2/106.2/10
Storyline - 6.3/106.3/10
Acting - 5/105/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 6/106/10
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