The Force is with Disney and Lucasfilm’s first major venture together. The two powerhouses held special advanced screenings in select theaters across the country for “Star Wars Rebels,” which premieres October 3rd on the Disney Channel. Audience reactions to what they saw was unanimously positive and with good cause. The show completely captures the spirit and youthful charm of the original 1977 classic that started it all.
The 50-minute sneak preview shown in theaters across the country was titled “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion.” It takes place between the events of “Episodes III” and “IV” and introduces a band of rebels who man the space vessel Ghost. They make it their life mission to foil the Galactic Empire’s plans of galactic domination. Fourteen year old orphan Ezra Bridger reluctantly joins former Padawan Kanan Jarrus, pilot Hera Syndulla, Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren, Lasat warrior Zeb Orrelios, and astromech droid Chopper on a rescue mission to the spice mines of Kessel to free a group of Wookiee slaves. Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau leads his stormtroopers in pursuit of the motley crew.
You can tell that the producers of “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” listened to uptight fans of anything related to the prequel trilogy when taking in to consideration the direction they wanted to head in for the new series. Personally, I enjoy everything “Star Wars” and didn’t have any problem with “The Clone Wars” or “Episodes I” through “III.”
The echoes of “Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope” are very much evident here. We have a young man yearning for something more from life than his aimless existence on a forgotten world in the outer rim of a galaxy far, far away. We get a band of misfits from all corners of the universe taking the boy in and giving him direction. Add to that the evil establishment who wants to rule everyone with an iron fist. It’s just like all great tales of adventure and heroism, but with different characters and settings. Let’s just call it what it is: “Star Wars” revamped for a new generation.
Familiar spaceships and figures from the original “Star Wars” trilogy no doubt makes longtime fans comfortable as they take in “Spark of Rebellion.” TIE Fighters race through space and stormtroopers follow their uniformed superiors around as they bark orders at them. The exterior and interior of the Star Destroyers also mirror the images embedded into our psyche by “The Empire Strikes Back.”
The animation style utilized for “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” is very much similar to that of “The Clone Wars.” They’ve obviously moved forward with leaps and bounds when it comes to the depth, texturing, and movements of the human characters. It’s also evident that the work of original trilogy concept artist Ralph McQuarrie’s handiwork was a huge influence on the design of the show. The evidence of that can be seen immediately in the character of Zeb, whose appearance is based on the original design of the Wookies.
The musical score for “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” also differs greatly from that of “The Clone Wars.” It’s a return to the classic sounds of John Williams’ symphonic work that makes audiences want to stand up and clap in excitement every time it’s heard. Composer Kevin Kiner is the talent behind the series, but it sounds like he’s taking all of Williams’ work and just rearranging it to fit new sequences of peril and drama.
“Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” is Lucasfilm and Disney trying to meet the needs and expectations of three very different generations all at the same time. Returning to the original formula a young and enthusiastic film geek named George Lucas introduced the world to 37 years ago was obviously the correct direction to journey in. It’s going to be fun seeing where the new show will venture and what familiar characters we’ll get to see along the way.
You can pre-order “Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion” on DVD right now.