It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – Star Wars Rebels is about to head to TV screens across the globe… and after the cancellation of The Clone Wars it’s about time.
Star Wars Rebels takes place between Episode III and Episode IV – effectively bridging the gap between the original and prequel trilogy. It’s a time period that hasn’t been explored on screen… and that gives Lucasfilm Animation plenty of room to create something that’s as unique as it is awesome.
Ezra Bridger – a young upstart doing what he can to scavenge and con his way to his next meal, finds himself mixed up in a Rebel plot to steal supply crates from the Empire… and with no-one else to turn to, Ezra soon joins them on their quest to spark a full-scale rebellion. And with a bunch of colourful characters aboard their flagship vessel, there’s everything we need for adventure – even a bunch of rescued wookiees.
Let’s be clear – Star Wars Rebels is a game changer. Gone are the often awkward dialogues between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Instead, we have the street-smart wise-cracks of a kid who just can’t stay out if trouble… and the rebellious Jedi who decides to give him a chance.
Freddie Prinze Jr. is on top form as the rebel leader (and secret Jedi) Kanan. Equally happy slinging a blaster or a lightsaber, one thing is clear – since Order 66, this Jedi Master has been forced to keep a low profile. But all that is about to change…
Of course, Taylor Gray is the real star of the show. Packed full of attitude but with a heart of gold, Ezra Bridger is a young, reluctant hero you can easily rally behind. And I get the feeling Taylor is only going to grow into the role as time goes on.
“I’m not looking for trouble,” he says while being pursued by both Rebel and Empire forces. “But it sure does find me.” Thankfully, young Ezra is more than capable of looking after himself… and manages to prove his worth to the crew of the Ghost time and time again. And that’s just in the debut episode.
Obviously, it’s a little more than that and it soon becomes clear – Ezra’s keen senses and quick reflexes are all due to a certain affinity with the Force. Delivering a classic Force speech that would rival Master Yoda himself, Kanan offers Ezra the ultimate opportunity – join his crew and train to become a Jedi.
You may think that this all sounds awfully familiar… and that’s certainly no accident. Where ‘The Clone Wars’ riffed on the themes of the ‘Star Wars’ prequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars Rebels’ takes us back to where it all began. Quite clearly influenced by the original movies, there are plenty of references to find throughout – even an innocent bump on the head while wearing a stormtrooper helmet calls back to an early version of the original film.
But it’s so much more than that.
Straight from the off, we’re shown scenes which are clearly based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original Star Wars concept art. Lucasfilm Animation has really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the visuals… and I have to admit, I find it far more appealing than The Clone Wars.
And the soundtrack really pulls it all together.
There are plenty of tunes you’ll recognise as Rebels toys with the classic soundtrack of John Williams. But it’s not just a simple rehash. Adapting the melodies of tunes we know and love, it really highlights the fact that Rebels is slowly building towards Episode IV. And the sound effects are just as good.
The screech of those TIE fighter engines evokes the thrill of those first ever Star Wars dogfights. Every blaster fire is like an homage to all the fallen stormtroopers of the original trilogy… and the mechanical clunks of a passing AT-DP instantly bring you back to a certain moon of Endor.
Director Dave Filoni has really managed to capture the magic of the original trilogy… and that certainly gives me a new hope for Star Wars VII. As far I’m concerned, Star Wars Rebels is a triumph for everyone involved. It’s smart, it’s witty, and it captures everything great about the original trilogy.
I just hope the rest of the series is just as good. But I get the feeling the Force is with them.
Are you looking forward to Star Wars Rebels? Do you think it will top ‘The Clone Wars’? Let us know what you think in the comments below…