November 1, 2014

IT NEEDED TO BE RESCUED FROM LUCAS AFTER THE FIRST MOVIE:

Star Wars Rebels owes as much to Joss Whedon as it does to George Lucas (Graeme Virtue, 29 October 2014, The Guardian)

Every new Star Wars spin-off is guaranteed attention from hardcore fans, but as the first official chunk of Disney-curated content since the regime change, Star Wars Rebels has been scrutinised more than most. Set during the relatively unexplored period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the animated series premiered last month to 6.5m viewers worldwide - unusually high ratings for children's programming. (In the UK, new episodes screen every Thursday afternoon on cable channel Disney XD.)

Star Wars Rebels opens with the classic image of a Star Destroyer filling up the screen, and the universe has the same grimy, lived-in feel of the older movies - all the dings, dents and dust streaks lovingly recreated by state-of-the-art computer animation. Similarly, the familiar soundtrack and iconic sound effects are soothing throwbacks to the original trilogy, while the production and character designs deliberately evoke the 1970s Star Wars concept art by the late, great Ralph McQuarrie. [...]

If the overarching plot is designed to build toward the founding of the Rebel Alliance against the Empire, things starts small. After an Imperial entanglement, orphaned tearaway Ezra falls in with Kanan and his ragtag crew - a gifted pilot, a graffiti artist with a Boba Fett helmet, a gigantic grumpy alien in the Chewbacca mould and a wilful astromech droid. Crammed together on Kanan's Millennium Falcon-esque ship, they operate as outlaws, thieves and smugglers, chipping away at the might of the Empire while also bickering and bonding. A few episodes in - probably around the time Ezra hotwires a TIE fighter during a chaotic escape - you realise that the producers have quietly taken their cue from another sci-fi godhead. Shambolic heists, an emphasis on wisecracks and the unplanned formation of a surrogate family? Star Wars Rebels is the Firefly remake fans have been crying out for ever since Joss Whedon's space western got cancelled.

Of course, Whedon took a lot of inspiration from Star Wars for Firefly. But viewing Rebels as an unofficial continuation of the adventures of Mal and his merry band adds another layer of meta-enjoyment - it even has the equivalent of the ruthless Operative from Firefly's movie spin-off Serenity, in the form of zealous rebel-hunter Agent Kallus (voiced by David Oyelowo). It also helps that Star Wars Rebels is already an entertaining watch, assembled with a cinematic eye and punctuated by decent gags and skilfully assembled action scenes. Even Kanan's goatee can't spoil it.





Posted by at November 1, 2014 6:56 AM
  

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