Star Wars Rebels: “Spark of Rebellion” Series Premiere Review

Photo Credit:http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-rebels-spark-of-rebellion-premieres-friday-october-3-on-disney-channel

Your first peak at just what Disney has been up to since they bought Lucasfilm is here, and if what’s to come is as strong as this, Star Wars fans have a very bright future ahead of them.

Star Wars Rebels is a spiritual successor to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which preemptively concluded with an abbreviated Netflix season earlier this year. Dave Filoni is back at the helm, bringing with him Simon Kinberg (writer of this summer’s excellent X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Greg Weisman (known for his work on the short-lived but critically lauded Spectacular Spider-man cartoon).

Rebels takes place about 14 years after the Jedi were wiped out in Revenge of the Sith, putting it about five years before C-3PO and R2-D2 make a fateful trip to the desert planet of Tatooine in A New Hope. Aside from carrying the shadow of the prequel trilogy, Rebels clearly feels like a retread to the Star Wars fans first fell in love with.

We meet Ezra (Taylor Gray), an orphan that steals to survive but has a free spirit and cocky personality (many have made comparisons to Aladdin and they’re not wrong). The first thing he sees is an Imperial Star Destroyer. The tone is quickly set that the Empire deserves to fall. Ezra looks on as Stormtroopers and Imperial Officers harass citizens, arresting any that oppose them for treason.

Before long, he stumbles on a small team pulling off a heist in town. We meet Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Zeb (Stephen Blum), and Sabine (Tyler Sircar) as they disarm their opponents in a playful manner. Rebels quickly strikes a fun, light-hearted dynamic between its heroes, throwing in Ezra as a wrench on their plan when he steals their haul. But when it comes to choose between the Empire and the Ghost, our heroes’ ship, the choice is obvious.

We then catch up with the Ghost’s pilot Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and their droid Chopper. With the team rounded out, the scenes between them are some of the best of the premiere. Zeb and Ezra have a particularly fun back and forth.

Somehow, this 43 minute pilot manages to cram in a lot more material. Introducing everything and giving a resolution forces the pacing to be a little rushed, but that will clearly get fixed in time when characters aren’t being introduced.

We see the team deliver food to a village that the Empire decimated, immediately putting them a point higher than just a small band of pirates. Their next mission is to rescue a bunch of wookies from an Imperial ship. Smartly, the show avoids the easy pull of having Chewbacca be one of the wookies. It would have been an easy way to bring audiences in while sacrificing some of the majesty of the climax.

After freeing the wookies, the frightening Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) sicks his Stormtroopers on the rebels. In an incredibly rewarding moment thanks to the sheer mythology of the franchise and the quick-on-your-feet writing of this premiere, Kanan assembles his weapon from his past life to take on the Imperial forces: a lightsaber. Kanan is a surviver of Order 66, and he’s noticed that Ezra is Force sensitive. This is his time to strike back.

Defeating their enemy and freeing the wookies, Ezra decides to stay aboard the Ghost and now we have a Star Wars show with a fun, rag-tag group of characters. Yes, Spark of Rebellion feels a little rushed and not every cheesy line lands as well as those of classic Star Wars, but this is a true return to the basics of what made this universe so fun in the first place. Rebels clearly aims to recapture the magic of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This looks to be the start of something truly special. May the Force be with us all. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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