Friday, August 29, 2014

'Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion' Review (Spoiler Free!)

By: Dominic Jones

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Star Wars Rebels Canadian premiere at Fan Expo Canada, where the first episode (or movie, if you will) 'Spark of Rebellion' was screened to a packed John Basset theater.  The crowd was into it and so was I!  The series gets kicked off with a bang and if this episode is any indication, the series will be even more beloved by fans than The Clone Wars.  The added bonus of seeing the show at a convention with 1000 other fans, made it clear that Star Wars is best experienced with other fans.  We all laughed and cheered together as we returned to that galaxy far, far away.... 

The episode had the task of introducing the audience to the crew of the star ship 'The Ghost' and one of the series primary antagonist, Agent Kallus.  'Spark of Rebellion' does a fantastic job of setting up the character relationships, specifically the various 'The Ghost' crew members and Ezra.  

When it comes to Ezra, it's clear that the crew of Rebels has learned from their time on The Clone Wars when dealing with child characters.  When The Clone Wars debuted and the character of Ahsoka Tano was introduced their was a certain amount of backlash to her character due to her "whiny-ness" (with hind sight being 20/20 we can now see how this was important for establishing her characters arc).  Ezra, on the other hand, is introduced in a way that likely won't "annoy" fans, while still leaving him much room to grow.  

The focus of the episode was definitely on Ezra, but the other characters also each had their moment in the sun.  We learn about them largely through their interactions with Ezra.  It becomes clear throughout the episode that while Zeb puts on a tough guy act, he definitely has a big heart and a strong conscience (there is a great scene where he slumps up against the door after doing something he clearly knows was wrong).  Sabine, who is only 16 years old, is clearly wise beyond her age, probably due to her Mandalorian upbringing.  That being said, she does show her age a bit when it comes to her art (not so much in her actions, but her reactions).  Agent Kallus is established as vile, cunning, and cruel villain.  Perfect for the Empire.  I do hope we get some more character development and back story for him, though.

Having read John Jackson Miller's Rebels prequel novel A New Dawn (my review of that is coming later this week), the characters of Hera and Kanan were particularly interesting.  Watching 'Spark of Rebellion' as well as the short 'The Machine in The Ghost', it's clear that Miller perfectly captured the voices of those characters.  If this is any indication of how well Star Wars stories will work together going forward with the Lucasfilm Story Group then Star Wars is truly entering a golden age of story telling!  Hera and Kanan definitely felt like the same characters we met in A New Dawn, although Kanan has gone through some significant character growth in the years since he met Hera (likely her influence on him), which is to be expected.

If I had to pick one nitpick for the episode, I would say that one of the jokes felt a bit out of place.  Don't get me wrong, it was hilarious, but it didn't feel like Star Wars humor.  That being said the rest of the humor throughout the episode worked perfectly and felt right.  

All in all, 'Spark of Rebellion' was a fantastic kick off for Star Wars Rebels.  The acting was fantastic and I look forward to seeing more of this cast in action.  The story was an excellent way to kick of the series.  With all new characters, the series could have taken a bit of getting used to however the use of familiar (and fan favorite) species, as well as music that evokes the classic films worked to ensure that the introduction of the series was a smooth one.  Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman, and the entire Rebels team did a great job of introducing all the characters in a way that made us want to spend more time with them.  I hope we get to do so over many more seasons. 

You can follow Dominic on Twitter: @DominicJ25

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

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