Friday, July 25, 2014

Star Wars: Rebels - First Episode Report. by Horatio

San Diego Comic Con International 2014 has been a great time already for Star Wars fans! Thursday night we attended the Star Wars: Rebels panel with Dave Filoni (writer and director), Simon Kinberg (creator and writer), Freddie Prinze Jr (voice, Kanan), Vanessa Marshall (voice, Hera), Steve Blum (voice, Zeb), Taylor Gray (voice, Ezra), and Tiya Sircar (voice, Sabine). I live tweeted the entire panel @horatiolikestoy on twitter, so coverage of anything said in the panel can be found there. 

It's what we did after the panel that warrants review and discussion. After attending the panel we buzzed across the Gaslamp to Reading Cinema for a private showing of the first episode of Star Wars: Rebels. This was the first showing available to members of the public, and it was not easy to access. We were invited as part of Saber Guild, a costuming group that we work with. 

For this review, I'm going to avoid spoilers, but still give details, so anyone who doesn't want to know anything about the episode should leave now. The episode opens on a tight shot of Ezra looking down on a Lothal (The name of his homewold. -Ed) street, while a group of Imperial Officers are harassing a fruit peddler. From the very beginning we're shown a very specific side of imperial tyranny. It's smaller than the wholesale destruction of a planet, and left in the hands of officers saying, "What are you going to do to stop us?" as they steal from the proletariat. At first I felt the inclination to describe my first impressions of Ezra as a Robin Hood type hero, but I very quickly identified him more along the line of Disney's Aladdin. Ezra rescues the fruit peddler, but takes a little extra fruit for himself. Hardly a major theft but definitely a notable character development. 

It becomes clear that Ezra is a conflicted character, he despises the Empire and everything they stand for, but is more interested in his own well being than acting as a Robin Hood - at first. "I'll stick it to the empire, but who's going to stick there neck out that far?" He asks Hera, who replies "We do." 

Hera acts as a mother type figure. She looks out for her crew and waits on the ship during missions to monitor the first signs of trouble. One of her most memorable quotes from the episode is "If you only care about your own life than your life means nothing." She is selfless, matronly, and commanding. 

Kanan is a stern character with not an exceptional amount of emotional development in the first episode, at least alongside the other characters. He is quick to act in the face of trouble, a strong lightsaber duelist, and an intriguing teacher. During the Rebels panel, Freddie Prinze Jr suggested that Kanan had a "adolescent dark side," and I'm curious to see how this develops. As far as the first episode goes it ends with the mysteries of a Jedi surrounding Kanan.

 Zeb is a gruff but lovable character, somewhere between Chewbacca and Jayne from Firefly. He tries to come across much crueler and hard-hearted than he actually is, and for a single episode he becomes a very sympathetic character for me. He chooses Ezra as a character he can pick on a little bit, but there is a burgeoning respect hidden behind the mild bullying. He picks on Ezra but respects his strength and character. I look forward to the development of Ezra and Zeb's relationship most of all. 

Sabine is a delight. There's a definite flicker of potential romance between Sabine and Ezra, which is clear with Ezra's clumsy flirtations, and by the end of the episode we can see Ezra begin to grow on her. My favorite trait of Sabine, and possibly one of my favorite moments of the entire episode, is when we see Sabine's propensity for tagging an Imperial ship... With a surprising result that to my knowledge had not been shown in any previous footage. I refuse to ruin the moment for any readers, but it definitely elicited applause from the audience. 

And finally, of course, we have Chopper, who primarily acts as a comedic foil for the other characters (especially Ezra in this episode). The only way I can describe Chopper is as a somehow sassier version of R2-D2. 

During the episode there are several name drops of characters and locations that we know, like Jabba the Hutt, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Kessel. These serve as a bridge to the original trilogy. We are introduced to a new recurring villain, Imperial Agent Kallus, and see minor character development with him. 

Overall the episode was fantastic. While we were told that it was technically unfinished, I saw few signs of this in the episode. The music is well paired with the scenes, the voice acting is ace, and the animation is stunning. Rebels was everything that I expected it to be, and I can't wait to watch it on Disney XD. 

 Horatio is a dorky toy reviewer who can be found on YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr where she runs a Stargate SG-1 blog.

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