Star Wars Rebels
Totally, unmistakably Star Wars
Whatever your feelings
about the prequels, one of their biggest slip- ups was failing to recapture the spirit of the original Star Wars. Yes, there are lightsabers, Jedi and familiar characters. And the continuity ( mostly) checks out. But the Old Republic era is too clean, smooth- edged and, well, artificial to truly feel part of the same universe.
Now that Disney has spent a few billion dollars on the keys to George Lucas’s Empire, however, it seems keen to get back- to- basics. The bits and pieces we’ve learned so far about the live- action movies suggest they’ll feel more Episode IV than I, and Star Wars Rebels – the first screen offering from the Mouse- ified Lucasfilm – is setting the tone by homing in on what made Luke, Han and Leia’s Imperial entanglements inspire a generation.
Rebels’s first masterstroke is centring on a group of ordinary civilians, a ragtag group of freedom fighters scoring victories against the Empire where they can. They have the potential to be people you can root for, unlike the prequel trilogy’s Jedi who were a bit too pious and powerful to be relatable. One of them was also destined to become the baddest dude in the galaxy, but that’s a different story.
Rebels’ second act of genius is exploiting the largely unexplored territory between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. It’s simultaneously new and familiar, an era when the Emperor and his lackeys are busy tightening their grip on the galaxy, and every major player from the original movies – Obi- Wan, Admiral Ackbar, Lobot – is making their way in the universe.
But the thing that could really make Rebels is its total devotion to its source. The audio is authentic, the Empire are the bad guys, and the look of the ships and backgrounds is amazing. The decision to riff off Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art gives the show a pleasing aesthetic, while the impressive number of nods to Star Wars lore mean it could be as much for die- hards as kids.
It’s enough to make us look beyond the slightly- toocutesy character design and the by- the- numbers make- up of the show’s core team. Rebels could be the perfect Star Wars hit to carry us through to Episode VII, and – you never know – it may even turn out to be as good as The Clone Wars. Richard Edwards
Ezra’s scale model RC Ghost takes its maiden flight.