Star Wars Rebels

To­tally, un­mis­tak­ably Star Wars

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - View screen -

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.

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