A force to be reckoned with.
Set during the period after "Revenge of the Sith" and prior to the original "Star Wars" (aka "A New Hope"), "Rebels" essentially reboots the first movie, albeit with a new small band of rebels leading an incipient fight against Imperial forces. That begins with their introduction to Ezra (voiced by Taylor Gray), an inordinately resourceful teenage thief, taken in by Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), his alien pilot Hera (Vanessa Marshall), warrior Sabine (Tiya Sircar) and the powerful Zeb (Steve Blum), a Wookiee-like creature, except he can articulate his bad attitude, which includes taking pleasure in knocking Stormtroopers' helmeted heads together.
Ezra combines elements of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, since he's hostile to authority, as well as young and hotheaded. The project also showcases a sensationally striking villain known as the Inquisitor, voiced with appropriate menace by Jason Isaacs.
Though not having access to many well-known "Star Wars" figures would seem to put "Rebels" at a disadvantage relative to "The Clone Wars" (also overseen by Dave Filoni, who shares exec producer credit with "X-Men" scribe Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman), it actually proves oddly liberating--or at least, less confining than knowing the best they can do is fight Count Dooku to a draw. Part of that has to do with the way these dense half-hours are driven by action, which in the premiere includes a way-cool fight sequence in zero gravity, the expected narrow escapes and one very clever twist. "Rebels" also exhibits some genuine wit, such as a second-episode rumination about Yoda-speak that should put a smile on the face of anyone who can quote freely from "The Empire Strikes Back."
Disney, naturally, has been eager to wring value out of its Lucasfilm acquisition, which along with Marvel infuses a powerful boy- and teen-oriented element into its marketing and merchandising apparatus, complementing all those princesses and faeries. In that respect, the Disney Channel-to-Disney XD baton pass represents a shrewd way of helping establish the series, given all the mileage Cartoon Network got out of "Clone Wars."
"Star Wars Rebels" offers a reassuring reminder that there's plenty of room to operate within George Lucas' far, far away galaxy. And in terms of succeeding creatively, they haven't just tried; done it, they have.
Star Wars Rebels
Series; Disney Channel, Fri. Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze Jr.
PRODUCED BY Lucasfilm Animation.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS, Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman; SUPERVISING DIRECTOR, Filoni; PRODUCERS. Kiri Hart, Athena Yvette Portillo; DIRECTOR, Filoni; WRITER, Weisman; EDITOR, Joe Elwood; MUSIC, Kevin Kiner; ORIGINAL THEME BY John Williams. 60 MIN. VOICE CAST: Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze Jr., Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, David Oyelowo, Jason Isaacs
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|Article Type:||Television program review|
|Date:||Sep 30, 2014|
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