On the D/L – Star Wars Rebels
Season 1 Episode 1 – “Spark of Rebellion”
We now have a new Star Wars animated series following the cancellation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Star Wars Rebels moves ahead in time to the dark time between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope where we follow a group of galactic misfits who have to come together to survive. This new show is brought to us by some really talented producers, including Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Greg Weisman (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice) and Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Each of these bring something different to the table here and have a proven track record with their previous projects.
This episode acts as something of an origin story for the team and chronicles how they all come to work together. The focus of the series seems to be a young upstart character named Ezra (Taylor Gray) who comes with really effective teases before the reveal of his force sensitivity. Clues are given to the audience through a familiar -to fans- musical motif along with a clear indication that Ezra is sensing something important. Naturally this is really obvious to fans of the franchise but it does bring an element of mystery to the force right away, something that was even lacking over on Clone Wars. It’s clever that the show will use Ezra to be reintroduced to the Jedi ways all over again, hopefully giving a unique perspective on the apprentice role.
Our crew is lead by Jedi in hiding Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr) who so far seems to be wise and charismatic. Shared force sensitivity makes him feel something of a kinship with Ezra who represents hope for him. Kanan finds out that the Jedi aren’t as wiped out as he thought and that seems to fill him with determination to train him as well as fight the Empire. Ezra’s independent hot headed attitude should make the training attempts an amusing watch over the coming episodes.
The rest of the crew are really cool characters so far. I am particularly fond of Zeb (Steven Bloom) who just seems to be a lot of fun. There’s a good joke involving him pretending to be a hairless Wookie that acts on a nice meta level since he’s inspired by the original Wookie design. Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and Sabine (Tiya Sircar) leave an impression and both seem to have a unique interaction with newcomer Ezra.
One thing that Star Wars Rebels nails is the tone, matching that of the original trilogy really well. The characters are all good fun and feel different enough with each of them having interesting traits that distinguish them from one another. Everything moves along at a really good clip with nothing really slowing the story down or detracting from the focus on the characters. It really feels like watching a Star Wars property from back when the franchise was good. Nods to the mythos are prominent without being laid on too thick, with particular attention to be given to the Obi Wan hologram cameo offering the most poignant moment of the episode.
The threat our characters face seems to be a formidable one beyond the standard Imperial trouble they will be having. Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) never seems like anything less than a significant foe and the tease of the mysterious Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs) is intriguing. Only real criticism is that some of the dialogue and situations were a little childish so I hope this doesn’t descend into being too much for a younger audience.
A strongly written start to the series with interesting characters that have a good dynamic together. The tone of the original trilogy shines through here and it really feels like Star Wars from back when it was good. There are some childish moments but they don’t hurt the story too much. The action moves on at a really fast clip but keeps the characters as the focus. Finally, there’s some Star Wars to be excited about.