STAR WARS REBELS
EPISODE 1, SEASON 1- "SPARK OF THE REBELLION"
"Star Wars: Rebels" will be the second show that do weekly recaps and reviews for. I have absolutely no idea how this show will fit into the upcoming film franchise, or if it will at all. George Lucas has stated time and time again that the only stories in the Star Wars universe that are canon are the movies. So even though the stories in the comic books, video games, cartoons and literature are all very cool, Lucas does not count them as apart of the bigger Star Wars story. Even though George Lucas is no longer sitting in the director's chair, he is still a creative consultant and I don't see his vision ending any time soon. "Star Wars Rebels" could be an opportunity for Disney to cash-in on their recent property, which I figured would happen at some point.
I saw the 2008 "Star Wars: Clone Wars" movie, which I was not a fan of. It was way too cute for me and did not compete with the rest of the Star Wars movies, including the prequels. I hear the "Clone Wars" cartoon, which was also released in 2008 by George Lucas, is really good and I will get to that on Netflix as soon as possible. I already enjoyed a smaller-lasting "Clone Wars" cartoon which went from 2003 until 2005, by Genndy Tartakovsky. That series I absolutely loved, and I wish Tartakovsky had more time to expand that vision. All of this has lead to "Star Wars: Rebels" and I have been wildly curious about this show. I was hoping that it would be more like the Tartakovsky show and less like the 2008 Clone Wars movie that left a bad taste in my mouth. I have finally seen the pilot and I have some things to say about it.
As the pilot begins, we focus on Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), a young boy who spends a lot of time stealing from the Empire. As the episode begins, it is clear that it draws lots of inspiration from "Aladdin," the way Ezra breaks up a group of Imperial Troopers picking on a street vendor. I also found it particularly charming how Ezra is constantly revered as a "street rat." After helping the vendor, Ezra spots the Empire moving some valuable crates, and Ezra plans on stealing them.
It goes to show that there is another group planning to intercept the crates, and what ensues is a fun cat-and-mouse game as Ezra, the Empire and this mysterious new group plan to intercept the crates. By the end of the scene, Ezra meets Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr), Zeb Orrelios (Steven Blum), Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) and Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall). The group also has their own service droid they call Chopper, and I am glad the he is not entirely a shameless rip-off of R2D2. The group isn't necessarily calling themselves rebels quite yet, but we can already assume that they have been through a lot together already. They claim that they are a family, and they are skeptical of inviting Ezra into this close-knit group. Right now, they just test the waters with him, and Ezra assists the group on a raid to save a group of Wookie's from becoming slaves for the Empire.
My biggest question for this show was how well they were going to balance it out. I wondered if "Star Wars: Rebels" was going to be a kid-friendly specific show, or if it was going to appeal to everybody in every household. As the show began, my thoughts were it was going to stick to a kid crowd. There is quite a bit of humor aimed towards children, my favorite example was "Quit the attitude, and give me more altitude." This is a Disney show after-all, of course there is going to be some of that. But, as the episode wore on, I noticed stuff that hardcore Star Wars buffs could enjoy. I also applauded the storytelling. There are some surprises in the episode and some characters may not be who they seem. For example, the group's leader is Kanan, and it is revealed near the end of the episode that he is a former Jedi. He plays a message from Obi Wan Kenobi about the future of the galaxy after the fall of the Republic. Honestly, I was amazed by how powerful the drama was in the scene. I think if adults choose to watch this with their children, they will find plenty to enjoy.
I liked the voice-work by the entire cast, and I think Prinze Jr, Blum, Sircar, Marshall and Gray are going to be great choices for these characters. They each do good work, and they take advantage of the big moments offered to their characters. I like that this is a team show, and each member of the team stood out in this first episode. I also liked the voice work of David Oyelowo, who was given the other major speaking role in this episode. Oyelowo provides the voice for Agent Kallus, a high-ranking agent of the Imperial Security Bureau, an organization which ensures the Empire's safety. Kallus quickly latches onto the group's scent, and he has some cool moments. It seems like Kallus will be an interesting adversary for our heroes as the show moves forward and I can't wait to see how his character evolves.
Overall, I think "Star Wars: Rebels" will be fun show for people of all ages. I think fans of the classic saga will find much to admire about this little cartoon. As for the kids, well they will definitely have a blast. The action sequences are plentiful, and they are pretty edgy for a Disney cartoon. There is nothing out of whack with how much violence it shows, but its definitely edgy. I also like that the dialogue feels natural, something that has always been lacking from the original movie saga. I am excited to see how this show materializes, and it could be another winner for all Star Wars fans.