– Spoiler Review –
Set some five years before Ep. IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Rebels follows a motley crew of rebels as they go about undermining the Empire any way possible. Spark of Rebellion is the hour-long premiere for the series, giving us a sneak peek of how the crew of the Ghost operates, showing what they find valuable, and how Ezra comes to be part of the gang. There’s been a cavalcade of positive, uproarious, and mostly excited reviews and I’ll admit this will be another on the long list, but seriously Spark of Rebellion ignites my already sparked interest in the series, thanks to its original trilogy vibe (which I didn’t realize I missed), relatable, easy-to-love characters, and action packed adventure.
Much like ANH, Spark of Rebellion doesn’t waste time explaining what’s going on. Instead, it throws you head first into an ever evolving heist and doesn’t let up. Even when the characters do take a break to talk, the momentum barely lets off. Each moment is designed to further the story and helps propel viewers through and boy, is it fun.
SoR centers around Ezra’s hero journey (Taylor Grey), as he has to go from a lonely “loth-rat” of Lothal, looking out for himself with his street smarts to someone who can be part of a team looking out for more than just oneself. He’ll also be our window into the galaxy of this largely uncharted era of Star Wars lore once he gets himself tangled up with the crew of the Ghost, as his discoveries help us unearth things regarding our new heroes and help him discover new things about himself.
The crew is full of a colorful (literally and figuratively) variety of members. Hera (my favorite of the premiere), the captain/owner of the Ghost, is the obvious center for the team. Her interactions with Kanan highlight their long-time friendship and some of the romantic underpinnings seen in the tie-in novel A New Dawn. Her piloting skills are phenomenal and it was fun to watch her dodge TIEs like she was just out for a stroll. But her time spent with Ezra, convincing him to help the team, highlights her darker past thanks to her sudden change in tone of voice from the storied voice actress Vanessa Marshall.
Kanan’s (Freddie Prinze Jr.) carefree attitude and sarcastic nature make for a unique take on a Jedi, especially as he’s doing everything to hide his powers. But his actions are in tune with the Jedi’s way of being selfless, for the most part, and it easy to see he’s come a bit from his first meeting with Hera also seen in the tie-in novel A New Dawn. It’s not necessary to read it to get an understanding of either Kanan or Hera, as SoR does it well enough on its own, but it definitely won’t hurt.
Zeb (Steve Blum), the purple Lasat, is my second favorite character of the show so far. His interactions with Ezra, their mutual hate for one another, are amusing and highlights of the premiere. Plus, his enjoyment of buckethead (stormtrooper) beatings should be fun to watch over the series. But much like Kanan and Hera, his past isn’t all rays and sunshine, and his story is another facet of the show I look forward to uncovering.
Sabine (Tiya Sircar) is probably the least fleshed out in the premiere, but her personality shines through pretty brightly in her few moments. She’s definitely a young girl, but whatever happened in her past has aged her, as you can tell she’s initially off put by the naïve young Ezra. Can’t wait to see more of her explosive spray paint.
Chopper, a grumpy astromech, wears his personality on his dome and it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with him. I can’t say he’ll replace R2 in my heart, but damn if he doesn’t put up a good fight for that spot already.
Spark of Rebellion does a terrific job with making our new heroes people you’d like to watch. Their interplay and dialogue together is snappy and engaging, which really shows how they’ve been a team and practically a family for quite some time. It’s easy to be rooting for them rather quickly, even if they are going against the garden variety stormtroopers and will come out on top. To fix that incompetency issue, Imperial Security Bureau agents, like Kallus (David Oyelowo), helps present the Empire as a true threat. He’s constantly one-step ahead of the Rebels, whether it’s setting up the ambush with the supposed Wookiee prisoner transport and meeting them at Kessel as they attempt to free the Wookiees from slavery. Having a competent enemy is refreshing and if Kallus feels this threatening, one wonders just how much more skilled of an opponent the Inquisitor will be in the series proper (he gets a small cameo here).
Events like dropping off free food to the Lothal refugee “Tarkin-town,” risking his life to warn the others of the ambush, and watching the Ghost come back for him aboard a Star Destroyer really help Ezra’s hero’s journey along. It might feel a little too easy and too quick of a change for the street-smart orphan, but something tells me the first season will deal with his old tendencies popping back up, even during his Jedi training with Kanan. The fact that Hera and Kanan had let Ezra steal Kanan’s holocron as part of a Force-user test, was a cool idea, and interesting they devised a test together to help them locate Force sensitives. I wonder how many before Ezra they tested…
The animation looks crisp and smooth and works well for the Star Wars universe. It helps a lot of the show is based of the look and feel of Ralph McQuarrie concept art, so it’s almost like going back to Star Wars’ roots. For those who haven’t seen the art, it shouldn’t be off-putting at all, besides maybe the Wookiees. Even I have to admit, while I didn’t mind their character models, something about them just felt off and I wonder why they didn’t strive for a middle ground between something like The Clone Wars and Rebels. Either way, it’s a pretty looking show, and it’s bright colors help highlight that this be won’t as dark of an affair as some the prequel era content.
Helmed by TCW‘s Kevin Kiner, the musical score definitely hammers home the original trilogy feels with straight up borrowing parts of William’s classic score. But it’s not all copy and paste, as Kiner provides his twists on the classics while presenting new music along the way. Also in the sound department, the sound effects will be familiar to anyone who has seen the movies, but even new sounds fit in well, as I found myself enjoying the Ghosts’ strange humming sound while hovering and Chopper’s beeps and boops. Both of these elements combine to bring nostalgia and good-will quickly to the premiere, but it’ll be nice to see the series branch out and add new music and sounds to the saga.
Voice acting so far is top-notch, selling the characters and their personalities just as much as the well-written dialogue and action packed adventurism do. It’ll be a pleasure to hear these actors continue to bring these characters to life as well as exciting to hear them work with some possible familiar faces as the series goes on.
Here are a few other things:
- Head over to the official site for their episode guide, which includes trivia galleries, concept art, and a song from the premiere’s score.
- UPDATE: A scene featuring Darth Vader and the Inquisitor was added to Spark of Rebellion‘s primetime telecast. In it, Vader informs the Inquisitor that his Master senses a new threat looming, “the children of the Force.” It is the Inquisitor’s job to hunt down these children and their masters, and if they won’t turn to the dark side, eliminate them. The wording, “children of the Force,” I feel was very specific, possibly referencing the The Clone Wars season 2 episode of the same name, where Sidious has Bane kidnap Force-sensitive children to turn them into Sith spies. It seems Palpatine has been aware of a child strong in the Force for a long time, someone who may possibly overthrow him (Luke, anyone?), and has been taking steps to constantly eliminate such a threat. While a very brief scene, it’s implications aren’t missed. Plus, damn was it good to hear James Earl Jones as Vader again. (It can be seen on WatchDisneyXD’s version of SoR)
Spark of Rebellion is a must watch for any Star Wars fans, as both those who grew up with the original trilogy or the prequel trilogy will find much to love here. Everything clicks, from the writing, the animation, the plot, voice actors, and sound effects, helping pull the viewer along for a fun-filled new adventure in Star Wars. If this is any indication of what the series can feel and be like over an entire season, we’ll be in for quite the treat. The series premieres on Disney XD October 13th.
+ Fun, adventure filled romp
+ Great characters
+ Everything clicks
+ Occasionally competent villiains
– Wookiee’s animation
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season One: Ep. 2: “Droids In Distress” | Ep.3: “Fighter Flight” | Ep.4: “Rise of the Old Masters” | Ep.5: “Breaking Ranks” | Ep.6: “Out of Darkness” | Ep.7: “Empire Day” | Ep.8: “Gathering Forces” | Ep.9: “Path of the Jedi” | Ep.10: “Idiot’s Array” | Ep.11: “Vision of Hope” | Ep.12: “Call to Action” | Ep.13: “Rebel Resolve” | Ep.14: “Fire Across the Galaxy”
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