Last month, Disney XD and Lucasfilms aired one of their most ambitious projects to date, a new animated Star Wars series that gives fans of the saga–dare I say–a new hope.
Taking place 14 years after “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and five years before “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” “Star Wars Rebels” takes place during an era when the formidable Galactic Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy.
Imperial forces are hunting down the last of the jedi knights while a fledgling rebellion against the Empire takes form in the an unlikely crew of misfits: Ezra, a street rat who discovers he has force powers and crosses paths with the crew of the Ghost; Hera, the parental pilot; Kanan; a rouge Jedi who survived the horrific events of Episode III; Zeb, a seasoned Lasat enforcer who serves as the muscle of the crew; Sabine, a Mandalorian demolitions expert; and Chopper, a sassy astromech droid who could probably throw down with R2-D2 any day of the week.
They’re not the rebellion that we grew to love in the original trilogy, and they’ve got a ways to go, but I can’t help but feel that there’s something special here. Despite slightly lackluster animation, “Star Wars Rebels” in a sense does feel like some kind of spiritual successor to the original trilogy. Ezra is no Luke Skywalker, but when he first turns on that lightsaber and carefully looks it over, it feels like a magical moment, like the start of something new (no High School Musical pun intended).
Like Han Solo and Chewbacca from the original trilogy, the crew of the Ghost must use their wits, rebellious (pun intended) antics and luck to come out on top of the Imperial forces. The parallel characteristics, callbacks to the old trilogy and key appearances from classic Star Wars characters are what make “Star Wars Rebels” worthwhile. But more interesting is that, in “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,” Yoda tells Luke, “when gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be,” which makes one wonder what’s eventually going to become of Ezra and his new master Kanan. Especially since, the Inquisitor, a Sith tasked by Darth Vader to eliminate the remaining Jedi in the galaxy, is completely aware of the two members on the Ghost that able to use the force.
“Star Wars Rebels” also houses some of the qualities that made “The Clone Wars” animated series so great, namely the well-choreographed action sequences and a damn good sense of humor.
With a bit of improvement, “Star Wars Rebels” could be the great successor that fans of the original Star Wars saga were, and still are, looking for. If you’re even remotely interested in Star Wars at all, you should check this show out on Mondays at 9 p.m. on Disney XD.