Star Wars: Rebels – Spark of Rebellion Review

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Image ign.com

Some time ago, I commented on the furor surrounding the acquisition of the Star Wars franchise by Disney, especially as it concerned the new TV show “Star Wars: Rebels”.  My stance was that the new show was being handled by many of the same people that worked on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and that things were in good hands.  The new show  premiered last Friday, October 3rd, with an hour-long episode titled “Spark of Rebellion”.  So, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I thought, right?  Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway.

For those not in the know, “Star Wars: Rebels” is set five years before the original “Star Wars” (or “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope”, if you must.)  Most of the action takes place on the planet Lothal, which has been taken over by the Empire.  A group of rebels, led by a former Jedi named Kanan Jarrus, emerge on the planet and take a stand against their oppressors.  During a mission to steal some weapons, the rebels run into an orphan named Ezra Bridger who turns out to be strong with the Force.  Ezra joins the rebels to be trained by Kanan, while the commotion caused draws the attention of the Inquisitor, a Dark Force user hand-picked by Darth Vader to hunt down the remaining Jedi.

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The crew of the Ghost.
Image starwars.com

I am happy to report that most of the things people were worried about concerning this series simply didn’t happen.  There were concerns that Disney would “sanitize” the series in an attempt to make it kid-friendly, and the introduction of Ezra only seemed to add fuel to that particular fire.  While “Rebels” doesn’t head off to the darker portions of the universe that “The Clone Wars” did (in this episode, at least) there is plenty of action to be found.  Kanan gets into several firefights with Stormtroopers, the rebel Sabine uses explosives to blow up Imperial ships, and Imperial Agent Kallus knocks an incompetent soldier down a mineshaft.  While a far cry from Clone Wars’ suicide bombers, shell-shocked veterans, and turncoat generals, “Rebels” isn’t a Mickey Mouse cartoon.  At one point, the crew visits a shanty town outside the city (referred to as “Tarkintown”, after the infamous Grand Moff Tarkin).  While brief, this scene shows promise that “Rebels” will be able to explore the lives of some of the citizens being oppressed by the Empire, much like how “The Clone Wars” explored the horrors of war and its effects on the people it engulfed.

There is no denying that the newer art style looks more “Disneyish” than the previous series.  The colors are brighter, and the lines are softer than before.  And, as has been pointed out in many other outlets, Ezra looks a LOT like Aladdin with blue hair.  However, the newer art style doesn’t distract from the Star Wars “feel” of the episode.  The swashbuckling nature of the original trilogy is thankfully preserved in this episode.  There are several action pieces, with a chase through the streets of Lothal, an infiltration of an Imperial ship, an attack on a slave camp, and others.  If the rest of the show is as fun as the premier episode, we will be in for a great series.  And, as a side note, there is no basis for the fear that Ezra will be an annoying child character.  He was well acted and not obnoxious, and he is frankly MUCH less annoying than Ahsoka was at the beginning of “The Clone Wars” (remember “Artooey”? )  All of the characters have a chance to shine in this episode, and we really get a feel for their personalities by the end.  All of the voice actors do a great job with their roles, and I didn’t feel annoyed by any of them.  Even Sabine, the “sassy” Mandalorian who laces explosives with spray paint that I was sure I would hate, turned out to be much better executed than I thought she would.

I highly recommend “Star Wars: Rebels” based on the first episode.  For all those who are still stinging from Clone Wars’ cancellation, or those who are angry about Disney buying the franchise, I say give this series a shot.  It successfully captures the fun of the original trilogy, and gives me a new hope (see what I did there!) about the future of this franchise.

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~ by Chris on October 12, 2014.

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