REVIEW: THE EWOK ADVENTURES: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR

CAST
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Eric Walker (Less Than Zero)
Aubree Miller
Wilfred Brimley (The Firm)
Sian Phillips (Dune)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Paul Gleason (Die Hard)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
While the Towani family (Jeremitt, Catrine, Mace, and Cindel) are preparing to leave the forest moon of Endor, the Ewok village is attacked by a group of marauders (originally crash landed from Sanyassa) led by Terak and his witch-like sorceress Charal. Many Ewoks are killed. Cindel escapes, but is forced to leave Jeremitt, Catrine and Mace to their probable doom, both parents having already been hit by enemy fire. Their fate is not explicitly told in the film, but Cindel later assumes that they have been killed. While running away from the carnage, Cindel and Wicket meet Teek, a small fast native of Endor. Teek takes them to the home of Noa Briqualon, a human man who is angered by their uninvited presence and throws them out. Eventually he proves himself to be a kindhearted man, letting Teek steal food for them and inviting the two in when they attempt to build a fire for warmth. At the marauders’ castle, Charal is ordered by Terak to find Cindel, assuming she knows how to use “the power” in the energy cell stolen from Jaremitt. Meanwhile, Noa, Cindel, and Wicket are becoming friends. It is revealed that Noa is rebuilding his own broken Star Cruiser, only missing the energy cell. Cindel is awakened one morning by a song her mother used to sing to her. She follows the voice to find a beautiful woman singing. The woman transforms into Charal, who takes her to Terak. He orders her to activate “the power.” When she cannot, she and Charal are both imprisoned with the Ewoks. Outside, Noa, Wicket, and Teek sneak into the castle, making their way to the cellblock, where they free Cindel and the other Ewoks. They escape with the energy cell.
Terak, Charal, and the marauders trace them back to the ship, where Wicket leads the Ewoks in defense of the ship, and Noa installs the energy cell in his ship. The Ewoks put up a valiant effort, and are nearly beaten by the time Noa powers up the ship and uses its laser cannons to fend off the marauders. When Cindel goes to save Wicket, she is captured by Terak, even as the other marauders retreat. Terak and Noa face off, with Wicket finally coming to the rescue, killing Terak and simultaneously leaving Charal trapped in bird form for eternity. Shortly thereafter, goodbyes are said as Noa and Cindel leave the forest moon of Endor aboard Noa’s starship.
First things first, both this movie and the “Ewok Adventure” were made for TV-movies. Therefore, to compare them to Star Wars is unfair due to the differences in budgets and people on board. That being said, I love this movie! Both The Battle For Endor  was a childhood favorite of mine. The story is still entertaining, albeit still on a child’s level. But that’s ok, because that’s what these movies were meant for.

REVIEW: CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

CAST
Harry Hamlin (Veronica Mars)
Laurence Olivier (Spartacus)  …
Claire Bloom (The Haunting)
Maggie Smith (Harry Potter)
Ursula Andress (Dr. No)
Jack Gwillim (Patton)
Susan Fleetwood (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Pat Roach (Willow)
Judi Bowker (Sins)
Burgess Meredith (Batman 60s)
Siân Phillips (Dune)
King Acrisius of Argos (Donald Houston) imprisons his daughter Danaë (Vida Taylor), jealous of her beauty. When the god Zeus (Laurence Olivier) impregnates her, Acrisius sends his daughter and his newborn grandson Perseus to sea in a wooden chest. In retribution, Zeus kills Acrisius and orders Poseidon (Jack Gwillim) to release the last of the Titans, a gigantic sea monster called the Kraken, to destroy Argos. Meanwhile, Danaë and Perseus safely float to the island of Seriphos, where Perseus grows to adulthood.
Calibos (Neil McCarthy), son of the sea goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith), is a young man engaged to marry Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia (Siân Phillips) and heir to the rich city of Joppa; but has not only reduced the Wells of the Moons to a near-lifeless swamp, but also hunted and destroyed Zeus’s sacred flying horses (excepting only Pegasus). To punish him, Zeus transforms Calibos into a monstrous satyr and he is exiled by his people. In revenge, Thetis transports an adult Perseus (Harry Hamlin) from Seriphos to an abandoned amphitheatre in Joppa, where he is befriended by an elderly poet named Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and learns that Andromeda is under a curse and cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle, whose failures are burned at the stake. In order to aid his son, Zeus sends Perseus a god-crafted helmet from Athena (Susan Fleetwood) which makes its wearer invisible, a magical sword from Aphrodite (Ursula Andress), and a shield from Hera (Claire Bloom). Perseus, wearing the helmet, captures Pegasus and follows Andromeda to learn the next riddle. Perseus is nearly killed by Calibos but escapes, losing his helmet in the process. He also manages to sever Calibos’ hand.
Perseus befriends Tallo and presents himself as suitor and correctly answers the riddle, presenting the severed hand of Calibos. Perseus wins Andromeda’s hand in marriage. Calibos, finding that Thetis cannot act against Perseus, instead demands that she take vengeance on Joppa. At the wedding, Queen Cassiopeia compares Andromeda’s beauty to that of Thetis herself, whereupon Thetis demands Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken on pain of Joppa’s destruction.
Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, while Pegasus is captured by Calibos and his men. Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo; but she orders Hephaestus (Pat Roach) to build a golden replica of Bubo instead, who leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches (Flora Robson, Anna Manahan, and Freda Jackson). By taking their magic eye Perseus forces them to reveal that the only way to defeat the Kraken is by using the head of Medusa the Gorgon, who lives on an island in the River Styx at the edge of the Underworld. The next day, the group continues on their journey without Andromeda and Ammon, who return to Joppa.
On the Gorgon’s island with three soldiers by his side, Perseus fights Medusa’s guardian, a two-headed dog named Dioskilos, who kills one of his companions but Perseus intervenes in the nick of time and kills the beast. Perseus leads his two remaining allies into the Gorgon’s lair. His two other companions die on encounter with Medusa herself; she shoots one of the soldiers with an arrow and turns the other to stone. Perseus uses the reflective underside of his shield to deceive Medusa, decapitates her, and collects her head; but the shield is dissolved by her caustic blood. As Perseus and his party set to return, Calibos enters their camp and punctures the cloak carrying Medusa’s head, causing her blood to spill and produce three giant scorpions called Scorpiochs. The scorpions attack and Perseus’ friend Thallo is able to kill one of them, but he is killed by Calibos himself. Perseus slays the other two scorpions and thereafter kills Calibos.
An excellent rendering of classical Greek myth to film. It is always a joy to have Ray Harryhausen’s distinctive and outstanding work for any production, and this is no exception. The quality of acting is high, and includes Lawrence Olivier in one of his last major performances. Highly recommended.

REVIEW: DUNE (1984)

CAST
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Brad Dourif (Childs Play)
Linda Hunt (Dragonfly)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Francesca Annis (The Libertine)
Leonardo Cimino (Amityville II)
José Ferrer (Lawrence of Arabia)
Freddie Jones (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Richard Jordan (The Hunt For Red October)
Siân Phillips (Clash of The Titans 1981)
Jürgen Prochnow (Hitman: Agent 47)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Sting (Brimstone & Treacle)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Max von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Alicia Witt (Two Weerks Notice)
Sean Young (Blade Runner)
In the distant future the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The most important substance in the empire is the drug known as melange or “the spice”. It has many special properties, such as extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable and important of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space, which allows safe, instantaneous interstellar travel.
Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Guild sends an emissary to demand an explanation from the Emperor, who confidentially shares his plans to destroy House Atreides. The popularity of Duke Leto Atreides has grown, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army, making him a threat to the Emperor. Shaddam’s plan is to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice, and to have them ambushed there by their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose. The order draws the attention of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, as Paul is tied to the centuries-long Bene Gesserit breeding program which seeks to produce the universe’s superbeing, the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Paul is forced to place his hand in a box which subjects him to excruciating pain. He passes to Mohiam’s satisfaction.
Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen tells his nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho, that the Fremen have been underestimated, as they exist in vast numbers and could prove to be powerful allies. Leto gains the trust of Fremen, but before the Duke can establish an alliance with them, the Harkonnens launch their attack.While the Atreides had anticipated a trap, they are unable to withstand the attack, supported by the Emperor’s elite troops and aided by a traitor within House Atreides, Dr. Wellington Yueh. Captured, Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate the Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas capsule planted in his tooth by Dr. Yueh. Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar. Paul emerges as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting. Paul teaches the Fremen to use the sonic weapons and targets mining production of spice. Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Spacing Guild warn the The Emperor of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life. These fears are revealed to Paul in a prophetic dream; he drinks the Water of Life and enters into a trance. Awakening, he is transformed and gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He has discovered that water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul has also seen into space and the future; the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice.
Upon the Emperor’s arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban for failing to remedy the spice situation. Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s elite shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen. His Fremen warriors defeat the Emperor’s legions, while Paul’s sister Alia kills Baron Harkonnen. Paul faces the defeated Emperor and relieves him of power, then engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. Paul demonstrates his newfound powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy that he is the promised messiah by causing rain to fall on Arrakis for the first time ever, as Alia declares him the Kwisatz Haderach.
If you are curious about the film and are familiar with all the bad and discouraging press it has received over the years, yet remain a fan of exceptional fantasy or science fiction, do not be discouraged. You may find that it has elements that may just move you, bewilder you, or tantalise your imagination. You may come to agree, like a growing number of us, that it really is not so deserving of the excoriation that it has suffered at the hands – or pens – of its harshest critics. If you go into it with a forgiving mindset then you may be well rewarded. And then – if you haven’t already – read the saga itself. It is formidably great

REVIEW: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (1998)

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Penelope Wilton (Match Point)
Geoffrey Palmer (Paddington)
Paulette P. Williams (About a Boy)
Siân Phillips (Dune)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Marc Warren (Wanted)
Ian Holm (The Hobbit)
Ian Richardson (From Hell)

Kate Beckinsale in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)
 Alice Through the Looking Glass is a rather faithful adaptation of the Lewis Carroll story, though some distinction should be made between Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are no mad tea parties, no chasing of a white rabbit, no imminent threat of decapitation, no Cheshire Cat, no puffing caterpillars, and for those familiar with the Disney animated film, I suppose there’s little point in continuing on with such a list as you’re already well-acquainted with the basics of that story. While one shouldn’t go in anticipating a live-action spin on the familiar Disney film, some elements do cross over, such as Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and their story of the Walrus and Carpenter. Otherwise, it’s very much its own story.
 opening with a rather sleepy mother reading to her young daughter, who convinces her to…well, peer at the title for some small hint. Despite Alice’s continual claims that she’s seven years and six months exactly, she’s portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, who’s a good bit older (but certainly easier to look at). Some moments in Carroll’s story, such as the Lion and the Unicorn, are dispensed with entirely, but the bulk of the dialogue is presented verbatim. That more than anything is what entranced me. The movie is almost wall-to-wall dialogue, with virtually no stretches without someone saying something. The deft wordplay typically involves a very rational Alice trying to converse with characters ensnared in their own circular, non-sensical logic.
Kate Beckinsale in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)
 Alice Through the Looking Glass is a charming, clever story, and this adaptation is accordingly a charming, clever film. I’m not convinced that very young children would get much out of it, and as the execution is decidedly British, viewers who are turned off by such things should certainly steer clear. I personally enjoyed Alice Through the Looking Glass quite a bit.