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REVIEW – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

June 23, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith, Ian Bryce
Screenplay by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: Eric Jenkins
Cinematography by: Isidore Mankofsky
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Siân Phillips, Paul Gleason, Carel Struycken, Niki Botelho, Eric Walker, Daniel Frishman, Tony Cox, Pam Grizz, Roger Johnson
Year: 1985

 

Well, they talk now… Or, at least, Wicket does. And by “talk,” I of course mean “speaks English” – or, if you will, “speaks Galactic basic” – rather than just Ewokese. Released a year after the first Ewok-starring Star Wars spinoff, Caravan of Courage, and set months after the events of that film, The Battle for Endor sees the friendship between Cindel Towani and Wicket the Ewok blossoming, to the point where Cindel’s lessons from the first film have apparently paid off. But, sadly, the Towanis have also made progress in repairing their star cruiser since being rescued from the Gorax by Cindel, her brother Mace, and the Ewoks, and so it’s almost time for them to go back home and say good-bye to their furry friends. Read more…

REVIEW – Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

Directed by: John Korty
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith
Screenplay by: Bob Carrau
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: John Nutt
Cinematography by: John Korty
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Eric Walker, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Daniel Frishman, Debbie Lee Carrington, Tony Cox, Kevin Thompson, Margarita Fernández, Pam Grizz, Bobby Bell, Fionnula Flanagan, Guy Boyd, Darryl Henriques (voice), Sydney Walker (voice), Burl Ives (narration)
Originally known as: The Ewok Adventure
Year: 1984

 

What happens when you’ve seemingly brought an end to one of the most profitable film sagas, and yet you still want to make money off of the property in a similar medium? Why, you make a spin-off, of course! Return of the Jedi had brought the original film trilogy to a close on its release on May 25, 1983, but George Lucas was obviously far from finished with the series, despite this. (And who can complain, really?) Even before the concept of the prequel trilogy was thought up, and well before Disney’s acquisition and foray into the sequels and their own spinoffs, there were already plans to expand the series beyond the core films and even into the realm of television – just, you know, not in the form of a variety show. The Star Wars Holiday Special was considered to be an embarrassment by almost all involved, including George Lucas. So when this project began to move forward, Lucas ensured he had full creative control. Read more…

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Mini-Event

 

 

On this day, forty years ago, a film was released that changed the landscape of filmmaking forever…

 

 

Star Wars (later known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), was released on May 25, 1977, becoming a worldwide phenomenon, expanding its universe beyond films into books, comics, video games, television shows, and… well, you name it, and Star Wars has probably licensed itself to it in some form. Who knew back then that the franchise would also go on to become part of the Walt Disney empire alongside the likes of Marvel Comics? Or that the House of Mouse would actually do such a great, respectful job of handling the franchise?

As a result of this momentous event, I wanted to actually do some more reviews.

If you know me, you know I’m a pretty big fan of this universe. Perhaps not the biggest fan, but pretty big, all the same. I followed The Clone Wars TV series and am following Rebels. I saw the prequel films each at least three times in theatres, and have also made a point of seeing Disney’s films the same number. My only regret in all this is that I only ever got to see the original film theatrically was its 1997 Special Edition, and also that The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi never made it to the theatres where I was living at the time (i.e., a military base overseas).

“But, CJ,” I hear you exclaim, “you’ve already reviewed all the movies! Including Rogue One and that hastily put together pastiche of an animated ‘movie,’ The Clone Wars! What are you going to do, review The Holiday Special in May!?”

Well, to answer your question, no! I do not. I still plan on doing that around Christmas – you know, whenever I get around to actually getting the resolve to watch that again. [shudders] Instead, I intend to review a couple actual, honest-to-George movies you may have forgotten existed, but ones that I sure haven’t! You might also find it odd that these films were actually – gasp! – my first introduction ever to the Star Wars universe, period. I’m talking, of course, about…

… Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor!

Yup. My first exposure to anything Star Wars-related was actually the post-Return of the Jedi TV movie spinoffs starring the original trilogy’s most annoying characters – the cuddly teddy bears who inexplicably helped Leia, Han, and Chewie take down the Empire on the forest moon of Endor.

I had no idea at the time that these were part of a greater whole, having only watched them because a friend insisted on watching his VHS copies every now and then when I came over or spent the night at his place when we were about 7 or 8. Oddly, he didn’t have any Star Wars films, but he had all six original Star Trek films – those VHS copies that, when the spines were lined up, created a tantalizing picture of the Enterprise. Luckily, he was also my gateway to that franchise, but while I do love that series and don’t ever really understand the supposed rivalry between the two franchises and its fans, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t far more inclined to call myself more a fan of Star Wars and its whimsical, fantasy-based world.

But I have seen neither Caravan of Courage (originally known as The Ewok Adventure) nor The Battle for Endor since then, and so I decided to revisit the movies that started it all – well, for me, at least. What would I suddenly remember from these films that I’d forgotten in the last two decades? Do the movies hold up? Did they expand upon the greater Star Wars universe in any meaningful or even little but appreciable ways? Are they as bad as enduring Jar Jar Binks for an entire movie or watching Chewbacca’s family roar-gurgling at each other incessantly and without subtitles while we, the audience, stare at our screens aghast as to why we continue to watch that monstrosity? These were questions I needed answers to, and while I intended to do this for May the Fourth, I figured the franchise’s 40th anniversary was an even better time, signifying not just its beginning, but also in remembrance of my own fandom’s beginning – and I also got a little too busy and, therefore, tired around May 4….

REVIEW: The Brady Bunch in the White House

Brady Bunch in the White HouseDirected by: Neal Israel
Produced by: Armand Leo, Lloyd J. Schwartz
Written by: Lloyd J. Schwartz, Hope Juber
Edited by: Terry Stokes
Cinematography by: Robert Seaman
Music by: Laurence Juber
Starring: Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Chad Doreck, Autumn Reeser, Blake Foster, Ashley Eckstein, Max Morrow, Sofia Vassilieva, Tannis Burnett, Saul Rubinek, Reagan Pasternak, Dave Nichols, Joshua Peace, Noah Danby, Jef Mallory
Based on the TV series The Brady Bunch
Year: 2002

 

The following review was originally conceived as an impromptu Facebook rant after I decided to watch this movie out of boredom while browsing Netflix, so if this review seems kind of random, it was. It wasn’t long before I realized, however, that I’d essentially written an impromptu movie review instead, so I took it and punched it up a bit and decided to publish it officially instead.

I think I just watched one of the most bafflingly horrendous movies I’ve ever seen – The Brady Bunch in the White House. The first two movies that took the characters and placed them in the 90s weren’t exactly comedy masterpieces, but they were pretty witty and smartly put together satires of the original show’s absurdity by mostly having the wholesome characters be unchanged and defiantly unfazed by the explicit realities of the then-modern world (save for Alice, who, as an honorary Brady, was given a bit more of an edge). It was a fairly clever concept, dodging the pitfalls that most other TV-to-movie adaptations succumb to, and even on an artistic level, those movies got everything just right: a near perfect cast, the musical cues, the sitcom style camera angles, the kitschy costumes and sets, and just enough heightened reality to let you know the people making it were doing it all in good fun while making it tolerable and enjoyable for all people, regardless of whether or not they actually liked the original show. (I hated it.) This third film, though… Read more…

REVIEW: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

October 19, 2013 2 comments
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownDirected by: Bill Melendez
Produced by: Bill Melendez; Lee Mendelson (executive producer)
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Edited by: Robert T. Gillis
Camera by: Nick Vasu
Music by: Vince Guaraldi
Starring: Christopher Shea, Peter Robbins, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Gail Defaria, Ann Altieri, Lisa DeFaria, Bill Melendez, Glenn Mendelson
Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Year: 1966

 

I was originally going to write a review of The Mist next (and it’s still coming), but, given a recent bout of some emotional issues I had this week, I decided instead to do something out of left field and pick something a little more optimistic and positive – something a little more lighthearted (which The Mist is absolutely not). So, yeah, this is totally not an actual movie so much as a TV special. I don’t normally do TV shows – the closest I’ve come so far are TV movies, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Ballet Shoes – but I’m making an exception for this one. It’s not so much a TV show, anyway. Let’s just call it a short film and let that be that, eh? Besides, if you were feeling as down as I was this week, you’d probably be thankful for something a little more spirited than the standard horror fair, now wouldn’t you? Read more…

Review: “Macross II: The Movie” (“超時空要塞マクロスII -LOVERS AGAIN-“)

August 3, 2013 6 comments
Macross IIDirected by: Ken’ichi Yatagai
Produced by: Shinichi Iguchi, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroshi Kakoi, Hirotake Kanda, Keiji Kusano, Minoru Takanashi
Written by: Sukehiro Tomita
Art Direction by: Hidenori Nakahata
Cinematography by: Kazuhiro Konishi
Music by: Shirô Sagisu
Starring: Tsutomu Takayama, Hiroko Kasahara, Yumi Tôma, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Bin Shimada, Yukio Satō, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo, Takeshi Kusao, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Tōru Furuya, Ryōtarō Okiayu, Takeshi Watabe, Aya Hara
Year: 1993

 

This is honestly the first non-Studio Ghibli, non-video-game-related anime movie I’ve ever really sat down to watch with the intention of actually watching the thing all the way through to the end. My friend who had suggested K-PAX a while ago had originally suggested the original Macross movie (actually a TV program edited into a movie which is more accurately named The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but… well, we’ll just stick to Macross for this review), but, upon browsing Netflix, it looked like all they carried was the series version that spanned 8 discs – and there was no way I was going to watch all that. Hence, the coaxing of his left field suggestion of K-PAX. But, lucky for me, my friend had figured out that, yes, there is actually a Macross movie I could review, and he just so happened to own it: Macross II: The Movie (a.k.a.: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again, though, again, we’ll just shorten it to Macross II). Read more…

Review: “Ballet Shoes” (2007)

July 12, 2013 4 comments
Ballet Shoes (2007)Directed by: Sandra Goldbacher
Produced by: Piers Wenger, Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Patrick Spence, Heidi Thomas
Written by: Heidi Thomas
Edited by: Adam Recht
Cinematography by: Peter Greenhalgh
Music by: Kevin Sargent
Starring: Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige, Lucy Boynton, Richard Griffiths, Emilia Fox, Marc Warren, Victoria Wood, Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Heather Nicol
Based on the novel Ballet Shoes: A Story of Three Children on the Stage by Noel Streatfeild
Year: 2007

 

Remember that scene in You’ve Got Mail, where Kathleen’s store shuts down and she goes to the Fox Books and tearfully helps out a Fox Books customer desperately looking for “the Shoe books” that the store clerk has no idea about? “I’d start with Ballet Shoes because it’s my favorite, although Skating Shoes is completely wonderful,” she sobs. It’s one of the best scenes in that movie, because it shows how passionate Kathleen was about the job she had just lost and how the books she sold weren’t merely a means to a profit, but a means to make the lives of others better.

When I requested that my friends recommend some movies for me to review on Facebook, feeling rather uncreative and unchallenged in my own choices lately, this was the first of the recommendations that was something I hadn’t ever even considered watching before. (My recent review of Oscar was recommended in person and inspired my Facebook solicitation, which led to my reviewing The Road, as well, though I already owned that.) Read more…

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