Chris Cooper reviews the Star Wars Rebels feature-length premiere ‘Spark of Rebellion’…
Though I was born after Return of the Jedi (my favourite, screw the haters) was released in cinemas the entire original trilogy (OT), pervaded my childhood. Watching A New Hope on a recorded VHS until we picked up the trilogy proper, and then moving on to the Special Editions. There’s a magic in those films. The sounds, sights and feel; something that just didn’t come through in the prequel trilogy (PT).
I’m no PT hater and there some parts I think are great. But overall more was wrong. Star Wars: The Clone Wars passed me by as I was heavily into the Nolan Batman Trilogy and the first series didn’t impress me greatly. I picked up large parts of the story through the internet and I gather it grew much stronger as it progressed. I’ll have to check it out now it’s part of the remaining canon post Disney takeover.
Which gets us to the present, and the first Disney Star Wars product.
My main concerns were that it would be too child friendly and the thought of ‘ugh another prequel’. But, I went in with an open mind to watch the initial story ‘Spark of Rebellion’.
They were put to rest pretty darn quickly.
We’re quickly introduced to Ezra, a street urchin with a talent for getting in trouble. It doesn’t take long to also meet the crew of the Ghost, and they are soon off on an adventure together, albeit grudgingly.
The overall feel is just like A New Hope. A boy dreaming of more whisked away into the stars on a ship unlike anything else we see crewed by some morally grey characters.
If you also know the films well you’re in for a treat. From some very memorable quotes to the sounds of speeder bikes and Imperial walkers, and even a Wilhelm scream, it’s choc-full of references to the films that….haven’t happened yet. Never mind the timing though; it’s very cool!
Rebels isn’t a dark story by any stretch, but we do see plenty of Stormtroopers getting shot and TIEs being blown up. It may be on a kids channel but its tone juggles the needs of kids and adults well. Once again it’s just like the OT.
The animation isn’t the most detailed but I was only struck by it’s simplicity at one point: Wookies. That’s a lot of hair to model and the simplified style jarred a touch. Not a big problem though. It’s more than made up for by everything looking just as you’d expect, with many aspects taking direct inspiration from OT concept artist Ralph McQuarrie’s originally works. If you’re going to be inspired by something that is the pinnacle as far a Star Wars is concerned.
One thing I have to mention is the amount of lightsaber action we see. It’s perfect. All too often it feels as though Jedi and lightsabers are thrown in because it’s cool. It is, but we see just enough without it overpowering the story and the introductions to the characters.
This is a very promising start. Rebels is full of things that makes the nostalgic parts of me warm with joy, but with a new cast of characters that I’m looking forward to discovering more about. It’s funny, action packed and most importantly, feels like Star Wars.
We’re back in a galaxy far far away, and it’s a great feeling.