30 October 2007 | Chip_douglas
Four tales do not a movie make, no matter how good each one is separately.
Digital effects artist Alex Lindsay must be the resident funny voice guy over at Lucasfilm, for not only did he get the job of narrating the 2005 Droids re-edit "Treasure of the Hidden Planet" (as a rather different sounding Mungo Baobab), he can also be heard at the start of "Tales from the Endor Woods" (released the same year) as, of all things, an older version of Wicket W. Warrick. His narration is basically there to prepare the viewer for the fact that this so called feature film is comprised of four unrelated Ewok adventures. To be precise, they are, in this order: episodes 10: 'Wicket's Wagon', 5: The Travelling Jindas, 4: To save Deej and 13: Asha.
'Wicket's Wagon' and 'Asha' are clearly the stand outs in this collection. Both written by Paul Dini, and featuring cameos from characters introduced in the Ewok TV movie 'Caravan of Courage (Kaink in the former and my favorite Ewok of all time Chukha-Trok in the latter). These episodes delve into the family connections of Wicket and Kneesa, respectively, a television trend which always proves popular with fans. In Wicket's Wagon, the Warrick brothers (Weechee, Willy and Wicket) stumble upon an old abandoned battle wagon that turns out to have been build by their great-grandfather Ephram. Wicket is determined to fix up the family heirloom, but only young Malani (who has a crush on him) is willing to help him. The swamp dwelling Duloks soon learn about the wagon and plan to snatch it for themselves. Even though the wagon in question was obviously put in there to sell the toy of the same name (one of the final vehicles released in the Power of the Force line and very hard to find nowadays), Dini still manages to make the story into something special. The inclusion of old Ephram's spirit (could he be one with the Force?) as well as the inclusion of Murgoop the Dulok Oracle are well appreciated. Also, I just can't help but like the way Wicket growls each time he senses danger (like he did in Return of the Jedi).
The second story in this compilation, The Traveling Jindas is written by Bob Carrau. It centers on Latara, a girl Ewok who first appeared in the children's book 'Wicket finds a way' and introduces the titular troupe of traveling performers led by Bondo (who speaks a bit of French, oddly enough). Tired of her chores at home, especially of babysitting, Latara joins the Jindas, dreaming of a great career as a musician (she plays the flute). Unfortunately the Jindas are notorious for getting themselves lost. Also, Dulok lackeys 'O' & 'X' try to force Latara into babysitting their tribe's brats. This episode is mostly played for laughs, unlike the next, also by Carrau: 'To save Deej'. The title, as you may recall, refers to Wicket's father, who cuts himself on some wicked (no pun intended) fungus during a fishing trip and becomes terminally ill. Logray desperately needs some special ingredients to brew a cure, and sends out the Warrick brothers (see the second paragraph for their names) to get one each. In typical cartoon fashion, none of them can do it without the others help, nor from Teebo and Mring-Mring the Gupin for that matter.
Both the Traveling Jindas from episode 5 and Mring Mring from episode 4 made another appearance each, in episode 7 "The Curse of the Jindas" and episode 8 "The Land of the Gupins", respectively. If they had put the two Jinda stories or the two Gupin stories next to each other in the middle of this feature, it may perhaps have made this compilation feature more a bit more coherent, but then again mayby not.
The final story, 'Asha' was also the final episode of the first season and definitely the most dramatic. For one thing, it features the death of Kneesa's mother (albeit in flashback and off screen). Having met almost he entire Ewok village over the course of the previous 12 episodes, we finally find out why Kneesa's mom/Chief Chirpa's wife has never been seen before. Kneesa lost her mother and older sister when she was still a Wokling, but becomes convinced her sister (yes, you guessed it, the Asha of the title) is still alive and living in the wilderness. Raised by the wolf-like Korrinas, Asha has become 'The Red Ghost', protector of wild creatures, especially during the winter time when the Duloks set out their traps. Fans of the Ewok series (not to mention Paul Dini himself) usually point to this episode as the best in the series and a standard that should have been aspired to more during the second season.
As with the previous cobbled together Ewok movie, 'The Haunted Village', the new score by Marco D'Ambrosio is often more annoying, repetitive and less subtle than the original music that accompanied the series, and although these four episodes are fine examples of the first series, they were not written to be seen in such quick succession. Older members of the audience will probably find it difficult to hold their attention when a new story starts every 20 minutes and/or loose interest about halfway through. Once again a case must be made for the original series (with the original score by Taj and Inshira Mahal) to be released as a boxed set. Especially since it would be a shame to eject the DVD before the end and miss 'Asha'.
8 out of 10