Star Wars Rebels: Sparks of Rebellion Review

9/26/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


Star Wars is officially back!  Ok, maybe we still have about 15 months before Episode VII, there was already a season of The Clone Wars released after the Disney acquisition, and Star Wars: A New Dawn was already released, but Star Wars Rebels: Sparks of Rebellion felt different.

This show has been teased for months, and it's finally here.  The hour long (ok, 45 minute) special premier "Sparks of Rebellion" just went available through on-demand.  I don't subscribe to Disney XD or The Disney Channel, but I could still view it through Xfinity TV Go, so it is fairly available if you don't have those channels either.  The premier special will air on The Disney Channel Friday, October 3rd at 9pm eastern time.

I'll start out by noting that if you didn't like Star Wars The Clone Wars animated series (and you actually watched the whole thing before giving snap judgment and giving up), then this isn't going to be for you.  If you did enjoy some (or all of) The Clone Wars (as I did), then there's definitely some enjoyment for you to have here.

Star Wars Rebels marks the first major step into a new generation of Star Wars, so the production team put a lot of effort into making sure Star Wars Rebels looks, sounds, and feels like the Star Wars everyone loves.  I'll avoid anything too spoilery here, you can find my spoilers and episode recap in another post.

Sparks of Rebellion definitely hits a lot of Star Wars requirements.  The music is heavily inspired by John Williams (or just directly sampled from him at times), along with all sorts of classic Original Trilogy sound effects from TIE-Fighters to speeder bikes.  There was even a Wilhelm scream.

A lot of the art direction took a very clear cue from Ralph McQuarrie's Original Trilogy concept art.  It definitely has a more cartoony twist, but not in way that cheapens it.  The animation style reminded me very much of the better parts of The Clone Wars and the movement, physics, and acting were all very grounded instead of cartoony.

The writing was very reasonable, but probably a little heavy handed at times.  This first episode does a good job of conducting formulaic world building without being too contrived or boring.  If Sparks of Rebellion serves as a springboard for the rest of the season, then I'm very excited to watch.

So far, there hasn't been any significant ties or references to the new book, A New Dawn, which sets up some of the characters for the show, but will likely just serve as ancillary backstory.  This episode also covered most of what was in the trailers and promotional material to date, aside from a couple of scenes that are likely coming in the next episode, which is exciting, because it means there is a lot more to discover from this show yet.

Having seen The Clone Wars and the amount of improvement from the first season to the last, a strong start like this for Rebels is highly encouraging.  The show is far less childish than it could be and has something to offer for most age groups, because, after all, Star Wars fans span several generations at this point.

Rebels effectively manages to launch a new Star Wars property, tie together events of the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy, and also take a stroll down nostalgia lane.  I would say that I don't know how a Star Wars fan could hate this, but lets be honest, Star Wars fans love to hate Star Wars; however, if you are a Star Wars fan that can stomach the prequels and just love the Star Wars universe, then you will likely enjoy what Star Wars Rebels has to offer.

Star Wars Rebels: Sparks of Rebellion will air on The Disney Channel on Friday October 3rd at 9/8c
Normal episodes of Star Wars Rebels will begin airing on Disney XD Mondays at 9/8c, starting October 13th.

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