Star Wars Rebels, Series Overview and Review

3/02/2015 Unknown 0 Comments

This is a Review of all of Star Wars: Rebels.  There will be spoilers for all things Star Wars.

When Star Wars Rebels was announced, the concept was an uphill battle for many fans, considering how under George Lucas, the Star Wars prequels had sunk the opinion of the franchise down quite a bit.  Star Wars The Clone Wars animated series likewise was not huge with fans at first, but as it progressed, it became some of the best Star Wars content available, and even did a lot to improve a lot of what the prequels missed.  The series was just starting to become much more widely appreciated when Disney purchased Lucasfilm.  Unfortunately, The Clone Wars was then cancelled (with a partial 6th season being released exclusively to Netflix), and it was announced that a new show would take its place.

Not many fans were super gung-ho about the idea of a Disney Star Wars animated show, especially one that was intended to replace the massively improved Clone Wars (even thought the last season of The Clone Wars was technically under Disney).  Even though Star Wars Rebels had the same creative team behind it as The Clone Wars, the Disney question brought it into doubt.  Early art that showed a more cartoony style than The Clone Wars didn't improve that look.

There was a lot of promise, though.  Rebels would be returning to the Original Trilogy aesthetic, using a lot of Ralph McQuarrie art and John Williams music for inspiration.  The idea of a series that bridges the wide gap between Episode III and Episode IV sounds really intriguing.  Not to mention, seeing the rise of the rebellion and getting to see Rebels vs Imperials is an exciting notion after 15 years of The Republic vs Seperatists.

Rebels premiered in a two part installment: Sparks of Rebellion.  Although it was a little less mature than where The Clone Wars left off, there was definitely a great return to Star Wars, with an era fans haven't seen before, and a familiar aesthetic.  The humor was also generally on point.  When it comes to new Star Wars canon, Disney could do far worse.

This is the case for most of the rest of the series.  There's a lot of good, including several cameos of familiar faces, but the story sticks mostly with the new characters, the crew of The Ghost.  A crew that, while it resembles the crew of The Millenium Falcon from the Original Trilogy, it's admittedly still fresh and presents a new dynamic.

The biggest fault in Rebels is the fact that much of what could be amazing ends up being mostly inferior retreads to something we've already seen in The Clone Wars.  For example, the episode where Ezra builds his lightsaber follows the same basic plot-points and establishes the same lore as Episode Six of Season Five of The Clone Wars: The Gathering, where several younglings obtain the Kyber crystals for their lightsabers.  The episode—Episode 8: Path of the Jedi—doesn't give us anything new.  The animation is inferior, the lore is already established, and there's nothing particular that stands out vs its Clone Wars counterpart.

The episode does have Frank Oz provide the voice of Yoda, who serves to guide Ezra and Kanan through their respective tasks.  The show brings back familiar voices several times to reprise classic characters (such as James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, and Billy D. Williams), but often, such as this case, the characters are not much more than an empty homage to the Original Trilogy.  Yoda in this capacity really only regurgitates lines we've already heard him give Luke from The Empire Strikes Back.

Aside from the occasional example such as that, the worst part of the show is the occasional bit of childish humor or slapstick, so all-in-all, it doesn't have too many detractors.

Despite my criticism of the show mostly retreading already explored concepts, it also does expand Star Wars lore in some very specific ways.  Especially during a time when the Star Wars Episode VII trailer comes out and everyone is criticizing the new lightsaber, Rebels actually introduces two new blade styles that actually end up having a pretty cool payoff.

The show really takes off in the last 3 episodes, when Grand Moff Tarkin enters the scene.  Although The Inquisitor had presented a fairly compelling villain to this point, Tarkin really showed how to run a tight ship and serves to propel the series through the final episodes, forcing the rag-tag group of freedom fighters to become a Rebel cell, and subsequently, join the larger forming rebellion.

Episode 14, Fire Across The Empire was a bitter sweet end to the first season.  It had some of the best Star Wars I've seen in a while, with an exciting, unique, and innovating lightsaber duel, and a classic TIE Fighter dogfight, set to John Williams inspired music.  It was pure ecstasy for a Star Wars fan.

The final 30 seconds of the show also brought some major reveals. I know I already warned of spoilers, but if you haven't watched it yet, I'd hold off on finishing this article until you've seen Fire Across The Empire.

The major reveal leading into Season Two is that Ahsoka Tano has been a major leader in the Rebellion, under the guise of "Fulcrom."  Many Clone Wars fans were quite miffed at her exit from the show, but she's finally back!  Unfortunately, we got a quick reveal and one line from her at the very end of the show.  Season Two can't arrive fast enough!  Not only because of Ahsoka's return, but also because it appears both Vader and Tarkin will be major antagonists for the majority of the next season, now that the Inquisitor is dead.

So Rebels was able to successfully introduce these new characters and establish the Galaxy as it is under a fairly young Empire.  Now at the very end, they join up with Bail Organa, Ahsoka Tano, C-3PO, R2-D2, and a suite of other familiar faces that I'm sure will appear in Season Two, such as Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Wedge Antilles, and maybe even Leia Organa.  Or not.  Even if Season Two stays as isolated as the first and sticks to the crew of The Ghost (maybe plus Ahsoka), then I'll be just thrilled.

The premier episode of Season Two of Star Wars Rebels will air at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in April.  Official word on when it will be available to the public, or when the remainder of the season will air is yet to be announced.

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