Have I ever been THIS excited about a damn animated series in my life?
If you followed my coverage on Star Wars Rebels from WonderCon 2014 and SDCC ’14 and all the way dating back to last year’s New York Comic-Con, you’ll be happy to know that none of the hype disappoints. Hell, even the most casual Star Wars fan should feel more at home with Rebels than they did with The Clone Wars— despite the fact there’s a wider array of new faces than before.
Oh, by the way, you can stop me now and just go watch the “Spark of Rebellion” yourself at http://watchdisneyxd.go.com/.
First things first. There’s nothing too dark or dour about this version of Star Wars. Maybe the last 2-3 seconds, but even that can be debatale. This is the SWU at it brightest, both visually and lyrically. It’s Disney! Duh! Even the grumpy alien Zeb (Steven Blum) appears to lighten up by the end of the pilot.
Landscapes are more impressive this time around too, inspired entirely by the iconic Ralph McQuarrie; as mentioned in my Convention coverage of the show earlier, Rebels has more of a Western frontier feel to it. For as tight this world feels in comparison to Clone Wars (and we’ll be doing plenty of comparisons along the way, trust me), the show’s theme still runs on exploration. I mean.. the already tight-knit Ghost squadron of Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), pilot Hera (the steady Vanessa Marshall), kid assassin Sabine (the more-impressive-than-I-imagined Tiya Sircar), the too droll and too New Zealand Zeb, and spunky drone Chopper (easily my favorite character on the show so far) had no issues picking up teenage thief Ezra (an enjoyable Taylor Gray) from the whims of dirt, despite the fact the kid can’t keep his hands off their All Things Jedi.
It’s a fun first adventure and a highly simple one, which this Monsignor believes makes it all the more affective. Viewers likely won’t feel the high stakes “star wars” are just yet, which, let’s face it, allows easier viewing for the younger kids. More Imperial detail is obviously on the way. Rebels‘ pacing is also pretty terrific, clouding family moments of clarity with high-speed TIE Fighter chases with plenty of Robinhood appeal.
Sure, you’re supposed to route for the Rebels; but without the shadowy sinister figures of The Clone Wars running amok — Dooku, Grievous, etc. — you may just feel bad for the Stormtroopers and the humans (David Oyelowo‘s Agent Kallus) in command. After one episode, I’ve yet to cling onto an actual rebel; someone like Boba Fett or Darth Maul that defies both good and evil. I’m sure a bad-ass character like that is coming down the line. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if that person was explosives artist/demolition expert, Sabine. There’s just something about this Mandalorian… that could very well place her in that company of crazies.
If I were to nitpick about the show, and I’ve already expressed my initial displeasure with Zeb’s baritone, it’s that not all the jokes hit their marks right away. Maybe it’s the change in tone from The Clone Wars, which still had its funny moments — just different; or it could merely be the lack of knowing our ragtag cast of outlaws well enough. Ezra is also very Aladdin, but I personally had no problem with him. As a Jedi we know nothing about, Kanan could be a darkhorse character, too. Either or, I’m hoping that more of the series’ “funnies” hit their mark, especially from Zeb, who I think is supposed to be a humorous character despite his fantastic timing with the Wookie sound. Loved it.
But hey, let’s just be thankful neither kid allie is a bratty annoying pest (other than Chopper, which makes him so awesome!), and for the fact Rebels hold up their sense of A New Hope adventure just fine.
Star Wars Rebels airs every Friday at 9p/8c on Disney XD.