Star Wars-Ewok Adventures (Caravan of Courage/The Battle for Endor) (1984)
|Year Of Production||1984|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Version Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Korty|
Twentieth Century Fox
Debbie Lee Carrington
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In the 1980s, George Lucas led his annoying Ewoks on an invasion of the small screen, with two Star Wars spin-off tele-movies. Like the Ewoks themselves, these movies were designed for kids who aren't too discerning.
Anyone who read my review of the Star Wars Extras Disc would know that I'm a Star Wars nut. That said, I'm also one of the many people who were disappointed with Lucas' weak, teddy bear creation, the Ewoks, who debuted in Return of the Jedi. I understand that originally the forest moon of Endor was to be inhabited by Wookies, but some family-friendly marketing got in the way (the same marketing that brought us Jar Jar Binks no doubt), and these cute and furry critters were born.
Ignored by most Star Wars fans, the two spin-off Ewok tele-movies have now made it to DVD:
Caravan of Courage (92:55) tells the story of a family marooned on Endor. With their parents captured by a giant creature, two children, Mace (Eric Walker) and Cindel (Aubree Miller) enlist the help of the Ewoks to rescue them.
This is basically a road movie with Muppets. Filled with attempts at slapstick comedy, the cute and cuddly Ewoks arm themselves with spears and blow darts and battle various obstacles. In the end, it degenerates into a boring episode of Land Of The Giants, when they eventually find the giant creatures' cave.
The Battle For Endor (92:59) has a different feel, with strong themes of fantasy, witches, dungeons and castles. In a bizarre move, Cindel's family are all killed in the opening minutes by Terak's invading army. Cindel teams up with Wicket (Warwick Davis) to rescue the captured Ewoks from the evil Terak. Along the way they are helped by the gruff Noa (Wilford Brimley). By the way, there's no Battle for Endor in the movie -- the two sides end up fighting for control over a small battery-like power generator.
Anyone complaining about Lucas 'fixing' the SFX in Ep IV-VI should be forced to watch both of these films back-to-back. Both films suffer from some of the most dated effects I've seen in recent times. There is a mixture of dodgy matte painting, awful stop-motion animation, some very basic blue-screen work, and some cheap Ewok suits, where the zips are very obvious.
Furthermore, the child actors (who are the leading actors in the stories) are terrible. Also, the Ewok faces have no expression - their eyes and mouths don't even move. So both movies rely very heavily on Burl Ives' lacklustre narration and the pedestrian score to convey any emotion, which simply does not work.
The sometimes grainy transfer is limited by its dated source material.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, Pan & Scan. I'm not sure what the original aspect ratio would have been, considering that this was made for television, but it had a limited theatrical run in a few countries (outside the US).
The image is soft throughout. The shadow detail varies, and at times, such as inside the hut at 14:00 Caravan of Courage, or inside the dungeon at 57:28 The Battle For Endor, it's very poor.
The colour is acceptable for its age, but the skin tones appear far too orange.
There is no problem with MPEG artefacts, although some scenes, such as at 44:29 The Battle For Endor, display a little pixelization. There were no problems with film-to-video artefacts, except for some telecine wobble at 32:38 The Battle For Endor.
Film artefacts appear throughout, and while most are small, some are quite large.
There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present, and they are accurate. Each movie is divided into 17 chapters on this single-sided dual-layered disc. I assume the layer change is between the two movies.
Overall, the audio is quite flat and lacking fidelity.
There is one audio option on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine, (but obviously the Ewoks' lips do not move).
The musical score is credited to Peter Bernstein, and very occasionally it pays homage to some of the Ewok themes of John Williams.
As a stereo track, there is no surround presence or LFE activity.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras, not even a trailer.
A simple menu with audio.
This DVD has been released on DVD in Region 1.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
It's pretty even, but I would favour a dual-layered disc.
If you didn't already hate the Ewoks -- just watch these two tele-films.
The video quality is disappointing, but the kids might not mind.
The audio quality is flat and limited.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|