A Few Thoughts on Star Wars Rebels “Spark of Rebellion”
When Disney purchased Star Wars from Lucas back in 2012, they started off by doing a whole lot of house cleaning, consolidating the franchise’s properties under one roof. One of their first big moves, after announcing a new trilogy of films, was the creation of a new animated television series, Star Wars Rebels. Many fans were skeptical, given that the creation of Rebels meant the end of The Clone Wars, which had grown into a respectable show from its mediocre beginnings. Last week fans got their first look at the show, with Disney making the premier special “Spark of Rebellion” available streaming online. This is not so much of a recap and review, but more observations and stray thoughts from the new series.
Yes the airing of this special has been kind of weird. It was first available on the DisneyXD’s app only, but two days later was made available on their streaming website. It will make its television debut Friday October 3rd at 9PM on Disney Channel before finally ending up on DisneyXD October 13th at 9PM. If that sounds a little confusing, that’s because it is. This is clearly designed to draw viewers to DisneyXD, a channel that has been struggling for viewership since its inception, probably thanks to Disney’s desire for the channel’s base to be a limiting demographic of boys ages 6-14.
Speaking of demographics, the placement on DisneyXD was one of the main concerns fans had when the show was announced. For good reason, DisneyXD is were good shows go to die. Here’s the thing, no one really wants to watch DisneyXD. No one wants to watch DisneyXD especially on a Monday night when Football is on. The Clone Wars through its run dealt with some heavy concepts like political gray areas, terrorism, soldier desertion, the cost of war and lose. With Disney execs clearly stating they wanted a lighter tone and show runner repeating a similar tune, many were scared Rebels would “dumb it down” for the masses and they would be stuck watching DisneyXD.
“Spark of Rebellion” shows the series has plenty of promise. Even at an extended 44 minutes run time, the special moves at a brisk pace. Characters are quickly introduced and it feels as if there are no down times.
This episode follows Ezra and his first encounter with the crew of The Ghost before deciding to join them. Taylor Gray does a good job voicing Ezra, who is the latest in lovable scamps with hearts of gold. Ezra is street smart and quick witted (like many scamps before), but we really don’t know what Ezra wants. He doesn’t appear to be looking for a loving family or have any desire to go into space. He’s a pickpocket that helps out people every once in a awhile, other than that he’s a little bland. His reluctance to join the Ghost crew, dramatically, is a little weak, because there is nothing shown to us why he wouldn’t want to do so.
The dramatics of the central characters are interesting. Each member of the Ghost crew brings something different to the show. It will be fun to watch people interact with one another and learn what brought them together as the show progressives. This special is mainly from Ezra’s perspective and we are introduced to the crew from that view. I say this because that is how we meet Sabine, the Mandalorian weapons expert and graffiti artist. Here’s hoping she isn’t just the teenage crush of Ezra.
“Spark of Rebellion” is filled with homages to the original trilogy and Easter eggs that die hard Star Wars fans will love to find.
The central antagonist, Agent Kallus is promising, thanks in part to a strong vocal performance by David Oyelowo. Kallus is ruthless in his pursuit of stopping rebellion before it starts and he has an eye for detail.
Freddie Prince Jr. feels right a home voicing Jedi in hiding Kanan, the leader of the crew. While his revel as a Jedi has been known from the marketing, I feel it wasn’t so necessary to rush to this reveal so quickly story wise. It also felt a little weird Kallus would assume Ezra was Kanan’s apprentice after only one encounter. Come on, build some dramatic tension. How can Kanan survive a galaxy wide witch hunt when he’s pulling out his lightsader anytime things get a little tough?
The water colors and painted textures of The Clone Wars are done, replaced with a slightly brighter more traditional CGI look. Characters are designed with smoother edges and brighter colors. Sometimes it works – The Ghost crew. Sometimes it doesn’t – The Wookiees.
The animation is fine for the most part. The cinematic approach and large scale of The Clone Wars is gone, but it makes sense given the show is not about a galactic war but small raids from basically a crew of bandits.
Overall it was an alright watch. Fans should not be disappointed. I don’t know if I’ll be watching Rebels consistently, but if the Fanbros Community would like recaps, like The Clone Wars, we’ll see what we can do.