A new hope­ful

An­i­mated se­ries rebels to be­gin a new di­rec­tion in the uni­verse.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By BRIAN TRUITT

MORE than 35 years af­ter a bunch of outer-space fly­boys hopped in their X-Wings and de­stroyed the first of two Death Stars, the Rebel Al­liance is fi­nally get­ting a Star Wars ori­gin story. In an an­i­mated TV ver­sion, no less. Star Wars Rebels, launch­ing in the au­tumn on Dis­ney Chan­nel with a spe­cial one-hour tele­cast be­fore mov­ing to its home on Dis­ney XD, takes fans back to a time be­fore there was Jek Porkins, Wedge An­tilles and, of course, Luke Sky­walker. View­ers will be in­tro­duced to the Re­bel­lion’s early days when the leader Kanan and his rag­tag group aboard The Ghost are fight­ing Im­pe­rial Star De­stroy­ers.

Rebels is the first orig­i­nal Star Wars on­screen con­tent re­leased since Dis­ney’s US$4bil (RM13.27bil) pur­chase of Lu­cas­film in Oc­to­ber 2012. It also be­gins a new era for the fran­chise with up­com­ing video games, Marvel Comics ti­tles and Star Wars: Episode VII, di­rec­tor JJ Abrams’ kick­off of a new movie tril­ogy (due in De­cem­ber 2015).

Rebels acts as a bridge be­tween the prior two sets of movies. The show is set in the pe­riod be­tween the events of the last movie pre­quel, 2005’s Episode III: Re­venge Of The Sith, and the in­tro­duc­tion to Ge­orge Lu­cas’ uni­verse in 1977’s Star Wars, the fourth “episode” (now subti­tled A New Hope) that kicked off the orig­i­nal tril­ogy.

That first movie opened with Darth Vader on a mis­sion to crush the fledg­ling Rebel Al­liance. Rebels will show why the Em­pire comes af­ter them as hard as they do while hav­ing the good guys em­ploy guerilla tac­tics vs shady arms deal­ers, war­lords, in­ter­ga­lac­tic gang­sters and an army of Stormtroop­ers.

“In the orig­i­nal movie, you see a bunch of guys in or­ange jump­suits run­ning around and not know­ing who they are,” says Fred­die Prinze Jr, who voices Kanan. “This is the start of it: the sac­ri­fices that those or­ange jump­suits made and the fam­i­lies those or­ange jump­suits lost and the ha­tred that you would have for some­body who would lit­er­ally kill your wife and child be­cause they wanted your property.”

The Em­pire has taken hold of places such as the fron­tier planet Lothal in or­der to re­cruit folks as soldiers or build ve­hi­cles of de­struc­tion. And Vader has tasked the Im­pe­rial In­quisi­tor to search ev­ery cor­ner of the galaxy and make sure the Jedi are gone for good.

The In­quisi­tor’s a phys­i­cally im­pos­ing threat, says Rebels ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Si­mon Kin­berg, “but what’s re­ally ter­ri­fy­ing is his abil­ity to read people, un­der­stand their fears, prey on those fears and al­most twist their per­cep­tions so that they don’t to­tally have con­trol over them­selves any more.”

Kanan’s crew is a ca­pa­ble bunch, though, down to their res­i­dent astromech droid C110P, nick­named Chop­per. In­stead of a sweet, lov­ing, in­no­cent droid like the fan-favourite R2-D2, Chop­per’s “a grumpy, grouchy, more ado­les­cent-be­hav­ing ro­bot,” says Kin­berg.

“He’s can­tan­ker­ous be­cause he acts like a grumpy old man most of the time,” adds Prinze, who’s given the trans­la­tion of Chop­per’s bleeps and the bloops so he can re­spond to the char­ac­ter hon­estly in the record­ing stu­dio.

“We know specif­i­cally what he’s say­ing about us, and if he’s say­ing it un­der his breath or di­rectly in our face. He’s very out­spo­ken, I’ll leave it at that.”

While he worked mainly in the pre­quel era as su­per­vis­ing di­rec­tor of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars an­i­mated se­ries, Rebels ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Dave Filoni says a lot of the new show leans to­ward the quick-wit­ted di­a­logue of char­ac­ters in the orig­i­nal tril­ogy as well as the de­sign aes­thetic of the older films.

As Abrams’ movie gets closer, Filoni feels a lot of eyes in pop cul­ture watch­ing ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in the Star Wars uni­verse af­ter the Dis­ney ac­qui­si­tion of Lu­cas­film. And while there have been some changes, he says, “we’re still telling very strong sto­ries and us­ing our beloved char­ac­ters in ways that are very true to them.”

Cre­at­ing a canon with Rebels is an ex­cit­ing yet daunt­ing op­por­tu­nity for Kin­berg, who’s also a con­sul­tant on Episode VII.

“The only thing I can imag­ine it would be like is if I was a priest or a rabbi and I got to write a new book of the Bi­ble,” Kin­berg says. “That would prob­a­bly be a sim­i­lar, sur­real, re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence.”

What he’s ex­pe­ri­enced so far in the new Star Wars ap­proach is a fo­cus on char­ac­ter and hu­man­ity rather than ef­fects and tech­nol­ogy.

“The tone will shift from story to story, and from movie to show to game, but what’s con­sis­tent is a rev­er­ence and love for the un­der­ly­ing ma­te­rial and a real pas­sion for ex­pand­ing the world,” Kin­berg says.

“For an au­di­ence who maybe didn’t grow up with it the way we grew up with it, (we’re) try­ing to give them the same ex­pe­ri­ence that we had when we saw Star Wars and The Em­pire Strikes Back for the first time in movie the­atres: blow their minds and im­merse them in a way that they be­come life­time Star Wars fans.” – USA To­day / McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

He knows your in­ner­most fears: The Im­pe­rial In­quisi­tor, one of the main an­tag­o­nists in the an­i­mated se­ries StarWarsrebels. – copy­right © 2014 dis­ney

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