Retro Star Wars Movie Review: Caravan of Courage

Look. Things were different when I was growing up. We didn’t have fancy things like a whole Star Wars universe. We had Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and then we finally got Return of the Jedi too. (I was five when it came out.) There were rumors of some kind of Christmas special that had appeared at some point, but other than that, that was the extent of our Star Wars options. If we wanted lightsabers, we could use the cardboard tubes from wrapping paper. And we were happy, dagnabbit.

Later on, other things came out. Things like the Timothy Zahn sequel books to the movies. Prequels. All that jazz. Until we arrive to the present day, where Star Wars is a veritable force in the universe.

But if you’ll come with me back to when I was a kid, I can highlight another Star Wars movies that was a personal favorite. Caravan of Courage. It was all about some kids teaming up with Ewoks to take down a huge monster thing. There was magic. Action. Adventure. No romance. And Ewoks. As a kid, I thought it was great. We had a copy we’d taped off TV on VHS, and I watched it multiple times.

So imagine my excitement when Disney brought Caravan of Courage to Disney+. Finally I’d get a chance to relive the glory days, when anything Star Wars was better than nothing. I gathered the family around a couple of nights ago, and I gave them a disclaimer. I hadn’t seen the movie in decades. It might be terrible, but I remembered really liking it as a kid. They were game, so we watched the movie. (It’s under 90 minutes, which made it a pretty easy sell.)

So . . . how was it?

Well, MC liked it a lot, so it’s got a target audience that it still plays well with. But everyone else (including, sadly, me) saw that it left a whole lot to be desired. The acting is bad. The special effects are . . . not great, even by made-for-TV-in-the-80s standards. (A few times it was just all too clear the Ewoks were people dressed up in teddy bear costumes. Once you stop being able to view them as real creatures, it turns the whole thing into a comedy.) The pacing was glacial. The writing was really bad. (Though it did introduce a few Ewok terms back into my vocabulary. “Feech” and “Lurdo” being my two favorites.)

It still had a bit of the nostalgia factor going for me, but I was amazed at just how much of the movie I had forgotten. I think all I remembered of it was “kids and Ewoks teaming up against a monster.” And that definitely is what happens in the movie. But it’s all really episodic, with the kids constantly making really, really stupid decisions without any other justification than “kids do stupid things.” As a writer for children and young adults, that was perhaps the biggest let down. The kids weren’t really allowed to make any good decisions and solve problems on their own. Instead, they were the source of most of the problems.

So should you watch this movie? It depends. If there’s literally any other new Star Wars thing to watch, or the hope of watching, in the next five years, I would wait and watch that instead. But if all you’ve got is Caravan of Courage, then . . . beggars can’t be choosers? Don’t look a gift womp rat in the mouth?

I gave it a 4/10, and it probably deserved worse.


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