[This is a review of the Star Wars Rebels series premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
Disney XD chose wisely when they decided to appoint Clone Wars alum Dave Filoni and X-Men: Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg as the heads of their new series, Star Wars Rebels. This latest venture marks the beginning of a brand new shared movie universe alongside next year’s release of the highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII. So, no pressure, right?
For the one-hour series premiere, entitled ‘Spark of Rebellion’, Filoni and Kinberg did what you might expect when tackling a newly revitalized multi-billion dollar franchise. They played it safe. Now, using the word safe is not meant to criticize this enjoyable debut from Disney XD, but to say that the creators delivered on what many Star Wars enthusiasts find so enjoyable about the series as a whole, which is the thrill of adventure set in a galaxy full of mystery and wonder.
Our crew of misfits, lead by the charismatic Jedi Cowboy Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), is pleasantly introduced by means of a robbery gone awry. The crew’s newest member, a young Aladdin-like character named Ezra (Taylor Gray) looks to be the primary focus as the season progresses. Ezra’s force sensitivity moments were a nice touch as well, giving the episode a sense of mythological grandeur that this universe can so effortlessly provide. In the coming weeks, his relationship under the tutelage of Kanan should make for some enjoyable viewing.
Since Filoni was once in control on the highly underrated Clone Wars franchise over on Cartoon Network, it’s no surprise that he would employ the voice talents of some old friends. For fans of that series, it was a joy to hear Obi-Wan Kenobi being voiced by the talented veteran James Arnold Taylor. His presence on this show raises other questions, like who else from Clone Wars will make an appearance? Perhaps a lovely young Togruta female? Okay, so perhaps that is wishful thinking, but for the most part, Filoni and Kinberg are working with a clean slate where they have some room to experiment. Who would you like to see from the old series?
There was speculation as to the dramatic tone that Rebels would use, especially coming off of the much darker seasons of Clone Wars. Some have been concerned that the series might be a little too “kid-friendly,” yet there appears to be a nice balance of action, adventure, and humor that we’ve come to expect from this storied franchise. Remember, the original trilogy was rated PG, so Disney’s decision keep the show more positive should not be a surprise. Even with George Lucas stepping away from the beloved story he created, his voice can still be heard throughout this premiere.
Lucas was never a writer to focus solely on the dark side (pun intended) of a story. Even during the bleakest of moments from his original trilogy, like in The Empire Strikes Back, he never wants the viewer to feel that all hope is lost. Rebels instills that same sense of old-fashioned idealism that is fading quickly with the advent of series that focus on the more nihilistic side of the spectrum. Just look no further than the wise words of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi’s holocron when he says, “Trust in the force… In time, a new hope will emerge.”
Another quintessential aspect of Star Wars are its incredible variety of villains; some better than others. Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) carried most of the work load this week, but the reveal of The Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs) promises more excitement to come. Surely there will be a showdown between Kanan and The Inquisitor in a future episode. We’ll just have to wait and see.
What did you think of the Rebels premiere? Is there a promising future, or are you just going to wait for Episode VII to come out next year? Keep watching to see what happens next.
Star Wars Rebels continues with ‘Droids in Distress’ on October 13, @9pm on Disney XD.