At San Diego Comic-Con this last weekend I was given the treat of seeing the premiere episode of "Star Wars: Rebels" almost three months early. We were asked not to review the episode or give away much of the story, but we were told our general impressions were just fine, and I must say that I think you're going to like the show.
I sure as hell did.
"Star Wars: Rebels" tells the tale of a ship-full of malcontents, led by the Twi'lek Hery Syndulla and the ex-Jedi Kanan Jarrus. They are a ragtag group that is dedicated to sticking it to the Empire. As you may have guessed (and Lucasfilm has announced) this show takes place just a few years (about five) prior to the events in "Episode IV."
The show starts in the middle of a heist and we're left to watch the character relationships unfold through the eyes of Ezra Bridger, a young kid with remarkable...talents.
I don't want to say too much else until we get closer to the show, but I do want to reassure everyone that they've captured the spirit of the Dark Times in this show. The Empire is cruel and unforgiving, the good guys are constantly on the run, and the crew snipes at each other like the best sort of rebellious family. There's heart and emotion to the scenes, plenty of humor to ground it all, and action sequences that give "The Clone Wars" a run for their money.
We were told the animation wasn't quite complete, so there are still almost certainly tweaks that will happen between now and the release, but the animation is fantastic. The rendering looks great and really does feel like a McQuarrie painting come to life.
For those concerned specifically about Sabine, I'd have to say she's one of my favorite characters right out of the gates. Yes, she's a Mando. Yes, she's a graffiti artist. Yes, her armour is pink. But she might be the single most useful and put together members of the team.
More than anything, this show feels like "Star Wars." It emulates the formula, but remixes it for the time period in which it's set. We've seen "Star Wars" like this, but at the same time we haven't. It's a careful balancing act, and I think the creators behind the show, Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman crossed that tightrope with ease.
The thing I was most impressed by, however, was the thing I was most concerned about going in. There was a genuine anxiety that this show, and all "Star Wars" going forward for the foreseeable future, would minimize the impact the prequels had on the universe. This show does not-can not-turn its back on the the prequel films. In fact, it embraces them in a way that makes me very happy and comfortable with the decision making capacity of the triumvirate in charge.
Kanan and Ezra's story is dripping in prequel lore. The Inquisitor stepped right out of the prequels, not just racially, but as a character concept, it's not something that could have even been conceived in a day and age before we had the context of the prequels.
It just makes me very happy.
As for the hour long opening to the show, it has everything a "Star Wars" fan is going to want. The bad guys are bad, the good guys are questionable, everything is beat up and dirty. The voice acting is fantastic, the crew really pops with their vocalizations. And the musical score might be Kevin Kiner's best work.
"Star Wars: Rebels" is scheduled to start with the one hour special I saw this fall, airing on the Disney Channel. Then, it moves to Disney XD as a regular series. Add this to your DVR right now. You're going to regret missing it.