Disney’s Star Wars Rebels: A New Hope Arises

This is my review of Disney’s first season of the now three-season-strong Star Wars Rebels. It’s a Clone Wars-spinoff set between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. This child-friendly first season takes place in a time where the Empire is securing its hold on the galaxy and ‘recruiting’ other planets to their cause, as well as hunting any remaining rogue Jedi who might be in hiding, all while a rebellion against the Empire is beginning to take shape.

Many gripes with this show from diehard Star Wars fans is that it was too kiddy and not enough edge. Well, I’d hate to break to you but all the shows on Disney XD are kiddy. If you don’t like it jog on. I find the show’s characters very amiable, with Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and the Jedi, Master Kannan (Freddie Prinze. Jr) being my favourites as well as Sabine (Tiya Sircar). At this point in the series, Ezra (Taylor Gray) is still a child and during the first season I found him a bit off. We also have Zeb (Steve Blum), and Chopper… an annoying but quite comical droid who helps them on their missions.

Ezra Bridger (Gray) and Pilot Hera (Williams) in Disney XD’s Star Wars-spinoff, Star Wars Rebels
(Star Wars Rebels, Disney XD)

Hardcore fans will have blasted the show’s first season. Luckily, I’m not one of those fanatics. ‘Sparks of the Rebellion’ is a terrific pilot episode to the show and it gave me a much better impression than Clone Wars did, as it introduced a number of different characters, each with their own unique skills and personalities, including the main villain at the time Agent Kallus, played by one of my favourite current Hollywood actors David Oyelowo (Selma). Quite frankly, he’s a certified badass determined at thwarting our heroes’ plans.

This is a good bit of fun. It’s never too childish nor is too adult. It’s the perfect balance which allows people of all ages to sit and watch it together in tranquillity, which can’t be said for many shows on television these days. Shows that trick you into thinking it’s child-friendly and then they start swearing and severed heads appear on the screen. Star Wars Rebels is intelligent, comedic, action-packed and suspenseful in specific moments. And to be honest, even in the first season, Rebels is more Star Wars than its Clone Wars-set predecessor.

Pilot Hera and the mad and wild Mandalorian Sabine Wren 
(Star Wars Rebels, Disney XD)

Retrospectively, with the release of Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One and The Force Awakens, we can now extinguish the prequels from film history. Rebels replaces the memory of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad and this show acts as a continuation of the original badassery of Hope, Empire and Jedi. Rebels is written very nicely indeed and the animation is quite great to look at, but it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. But the music is, well it’s… freaking STAR WARS. This show has that ‘I-don’t-want-to-leave-Neverland’ vibe to it because it makes me feel like a kid watching Star Wars again. Disney have done well.

The show doesn’t disregard what came before it at all. It’s very much a part of the the Star Wars universe, giving nods here and there, including a great cameo from Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor). Star Wars Rebels is that gem in contemporary popular culture where you didn’t expect to find one. It’s a well-written, non-cringey show on the Disney Channel. I was shocked when I saw how good it was. It’s charming yet it takes risks, with such episodes like ‘Rise of the Old Masters’ which knows when to throw the curve ball and knows when to use restraint.

Master Janan, the thought-to-be the last Jedi in the galaxy
(Star Wars Rebels, Disney XD)

Another great scene is ‘Path of the Jedi’ which is just so uncanny to Luke’s endeavours on Degobah in Empire Strikes Back, truly: confronting fears, the force and what the future holds. The series respects the past but it stands on its own and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Season one is legit and it’s a good bit of fun for all the family as well as a stepping stone to create a new generation of fans in the process.

May the force be with us