Thursday, April 30, 2015

Star Wars: Rebels: Spark of Rebellion review


    As anyone who has read this blog can tell you, I'm a long term Star Wars fanboy. I own most of the novels, comics, video games, and more. The decanonization of the Expanded Universe hit me hard but left me interested in where they were going to take the setting. One thing I knew, though, was that the television shows would be the focus of the setting until the release of the new movies.

    I was a big fan of The Clone Wars cartoon starring Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano. It was mostly very-good, accent on mostly. For example, as well-crafted as those episodes were, the survival of Darth Maul was just silly. There were also plenty of duds like when Padme goes to get a loan from the Banking Clan for the Republic only to discover a Ponzi scheme (because THAT'S what the series is about) or the misuse of David Tennant as a Jedi teaching droid. So I had trepidation about the new Star Wars: Rebels series.

James Earl Jones as Darth Vader's voice is an unexpected treat in the episode.
    Would it be good? Would I care about the characters? Would it just be a re-hash of the adventures of Han, Luke, and Leia traveling about the galaxy in the Falcon I've read literally hundred of stories about.

    Answer?

    This is really-really good. For both adults and children! It's family entertainment.

    As Star Wars should be.

    The premise is a group of rebels are operating on the planet Lothal. Lothal is a backwater planet in the Outer Rim territories which is unimportant to the Empire as a whole but, still, has an unusually high prevalence of Imperial soldiers. The populace is getting abused mercilessly by the Empire and it's the perfect place for a bunch of would-be revolutionaries to operate.

There is no greater danger to any Dark Lord than a ragtag band of misfits.
    While attempting to steal from the Empire, the rebels come across a precocious kid named Ezra who nearly ruins their plan in his attempts to steal the cargo from them. This leads to Ezra joining the crew and discovering that one of the rebels has an enormous secret.

    A secret involving a lightsaber and a Jedi holocron.

    Spark of Rebellion isn't a movie like The Clone Wars movie (which was awful, btw) but, instead, just the two-episode pilot for the television series. I'm not exactly pleased the two have been separated since there's no reason for this episode not to be included with season one. Indeed, I initially bought season one expecting it to be included with my purchase but was disappointed to find it wasn't there.

    The cast is a fairly likable bunch who will be familiar archetypes to long-term Star Wars fans. There's Hera, who is the calm and collected pilot of the group. There's Kanan, the Jedi-in-hiding, who subverts expectations by being anything but calm or collected. There's Zeb the Australian-sounding brutish thug. Then there's Sabine who is basically a punk skater-girl who just happens to be a Mandalorian. Wow, Sabine is like the incarnation of the girl I would have liked to have dated when I was a teenager.

    She also has explosive spray paint.

I was really fond of the relationship between Hera and Kanan. They're one of the most mature couples in television--which is sad in a way but still true. Very Walsh and Zoe.
    Ezra, the ostensible audience identification character, isn't as bad as many of the ones which I've seen over the years. Despite being a young teenager in a cast full of more-interesting adults, he's competent and cocky rather than annoying. He's a bit too-much like Aladdin but given said character is Disney's hands-down most likable boy character, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    The show is aimed at a somewhat younger audience than The Clone Wars but they still kill Stormtroopers left and right. I also like the animation style, which seems smoother than The Clone Wars in many ways. I also like how they go out of their way to show the Empire's oppression in small and petty ways as well as grandiose ones. There's forced evictions from homes, abusing citizens over trivial offenses, and causal racism. This is the kind of thing to teach children about true tyranny and not the stuff they often see in the media.

    In conclusion, I really like Spark of Rebellion but viewers shouldn't have to buy it in addition to season one. I also think the show will not be to the tastes of some older fans. Despite this, it's funny with likable characters. The feeling of the original trilogy is captured well and I am interested where they take the characters.

9/10

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