It’s Star Wars day 2014 (a.k.a. May 4th), and with it comes the full-length trailer for Star Wars Rebels, a show that examines the rise of the Rebel Alliance in between the events of Star Wars: Episode III and IV. The Disney XD animated series will also establish the new canon for the Star Wars universe, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm and intends to coordinate all future Star Wars “Expanded Universe” material spanning all platforms (movies, TV show, books, video games, etc.).
Judging by the trailer above, Rebels is cut from the same cloth as the current wave of Disney XD Marvel cartoon series (see: Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) – as one would naturally expect, and not in a bad way either, per se. Such entertainment is intended for consumption by a younger crowd than the upcoming Star Wars live-action movies, much like the difference between Marvel/Disney shows and the Marvel Film Universe.
The Rebels team includes characters who’re clearly tailor-designed to appeal to certain demographics, such as the young street rat Ezra (voiced by Taylor Gray) who has Force potential and yields a laser-slingshot (he almost sounds like Disney’s Aladdin, if he existed in the Star Wars universe), in addition to the Mandalorian Sabine (voice of Tiya Sircar) – dress in pink armor because, duh, that’s the color all girls love (pardon the sarcasm) - whose skills include explosives and… um, graffiti. And what kid-friendly program would be complete without a token cute sidekick – here, in the shape of grumpy astromech droid Chopper.
Snarkiness aside, the Rebels cast also includes Twi’lek Hera (voice of Vanessa Marshall), who pilots the starship Ghost and is the “mother” of the show’s makeshift family unit; Kanan (voice by Freddie Prinze Jr.), a Jedi who’s stayed under the radar by passing himself as a Han Solo rogue-type; and tough, but smart Zeb (voice by Steve Blum), an alien whose appearance is based on conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie’s original design for Chewbacca.
The animation style of Rebels is meant to adhere closer to McQuarrie’s approach on the original Star Wars movie trilogy, though it’s hard to tell yet whether that means the show is more visually-expressive or just “cartoony.” It also remains to be seen whether executive producer Dave Filoni improves on his work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars with Rebels – though, so far, the latter feels more like an unexceptional Disney brand than anything else.
Again, to be fair, the show is meant for kids to watch, so they’re the ones best fit to judge how enjoyable this series is – not to mention, ultimately decide if Rebels is a hit or miss, as far as ratings go.
Star Wars Rebels premieres with a one-hour special this fall on Disney XD.