Star Wars Returns With New Rebels

Star Wars is back with the long awaited premiere of the pilot for the animated show Star Wars: Rebels on Disney Channel.

Right off the bat the action kicks off with the introduction of the main character, a Jedi in hiding called Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who leads a crew of rebels on a ship called the Ghost in stealing weapons on a remote outer rim world Lothal. On the planet the crew encounters a young thief named Ezra (voiced by Taylor Gray), who is also strong in the Force.  This sets off a chain of events that lead them on a rescue mission to free wookie slaves on the spice world of Kessel. The show displays classic Star Wars action with a speeder chase right out of Return Of The Jedi, gun battles with imperial stormtroopers, who still have lousy aim, and dog fights in outer space with the iconic TIE fighters echoing scenes from A New Hope.

speederAll of this sets up the series nicely as a return to the Original Trilogy era, as this show is set between events in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the original film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  The tyranny of the Empire is on display as well, the episode starts with an agent from the Imperial Security Bureau harassing citizens of the planet Lothal, and later wookies are being shipped to certain death as forced slave labor. As much as I liked the prequel era and Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, it is great to see a return to this time in the Star Wars universe.  But I hada few nitpicks with the pilot episode. Take the way Kanan reveals himself as a Jedi to the imperial forces in the end of the episode. It did seem somewhat sudden, as was the quickness that Ezra accepts Kanan’s offer to be trained as a Jedi. ezra lightsaberI thought that their identity as Force sensitive people would have been kept under wraps for a while and be gradually brought up as the series went on, but by the conclusion of the pilot, they basically lay their cards out on the table. This brings them to the attention of the next big Star Wars villain, the Inquisitor, who seems like a sinister character even though his screen time is only a few seconds. Having said that, it was nice to see some exciting lightsaber action, as was seeing our heroes help their fellow man. Whether it was feeding starving outcasts on Lothar or helping Wookie slaves escape from Imperial clutches.

ghost battleThis series is being executive produced by Dave Filoni, who oversaw the excellent Clone Wars  show and it will be interesting to see how Rebels develops in comparison. Star Wars: The Clone Wars had familiar characters and settings while Star Wars: Rebels is kind of in new territory with new characters (and a cameo by one of the beloved Star Wars characters) and a setting that has to bridge the gap between the trilogies.   Overall, this pilot gets the series off to a good start. The characters seem to have a good rapport with each other and have a history as a crew that will hopefully be explored in the coming episodes. It will be fun to see how they will fit into the overall story of the rebellion and hopefully we will see classic Star Wars characters interacting with the crew of the Ghost.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Unveils Its Final Episodes

yoda anakin mace

The sixth and last season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, entitled “The Lost Missions”, just premiered on Netflix. As the final season of the excellent series it’s a shortened one with 13 episodes as opposed to the usual 22. The purchase by Disney brought about the cancellation of the series and the creative team led by Dave Filoni has moved onto the upcoming series called Star Wars Rebels.

This sixth season has four story arcs which begin with a very interesting storyline about a clone trooper named Tup that suddenly attacks and kills his commanding Jedi general. His fellow clone trooper named Fives (Dee Bradley Baker) investigates anakinwhat caused this violent behavior and uncovers a conspiracy going back to the creation of the clone army in their birthplace planet Kamino and the Sith Lord Darth Sidious (Tim Curry). This story, as well as others in this season, lead directly to events in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of the Sith, which makes this season a very good send off for the show.

The next story arc involves Senator Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber) and an old flame named Clovis who gets involved with political intrigue involving the Banking Clan as well as Sith Lords Sidious and Count Dooku (Corey Burton). While this may not sound very exciting, these episodes actually show how Palpatine further consolidated his control over the Republic and also have both Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Padme questioning the nature of their secret marriage.

dooku

The third story arc features everyone’s favorite Gungan Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) and Jedi Knight Mace Windu (Terence ‘T.C.’ Carson) trying to solve a mystery involving a planet where its spiritual leaders are disappearing and dealing with a prophecy about darkness taking over the galaxy. These two episodes were good although not quite as significant to the overall story of the Clone Wars as compared to the other arcs.

The last batch of episodes deals with the Jedi trying to find out about the murdered Jedi Sifo-Dyas and Yoda (Tom Kane) being contacted from beyond the grave by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), who shows him how he can continue to exist after death. Qui-Gon has him travel to a world that is the origin of the Force itself and face his worst fears. This references a scene in Revenge of the Sith where Yoda tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that he has discovered the secret of existing in the Force after death. It is a great way for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to end, with Yoda knowing that while the Clone Wars may end badly, there will be a way for the Jedi to continue on.

destroyerStar Wars: The Clone Wars was in the middle of production when it was cancelled, but the last season is one of the strongest in the series. The quality of these episodes shows that even at the end the writers still came up with very interesting ideas and perhaps the shortened run prevented any weaker episodes from coming up. Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will go down as first rate Star Wars action and drama that did justice to its cinematic counterparts. Hopefully the upcoming Star Wars Rebels series will continue this trend.

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