Last week, some friends and I got together to discuss the premier of Star Wars Rebels. Probably the biggest reason that we did was because we were all surprised at just how good the show was. Joining me for this special roundtable discussion is Andrew Caravella and Jack McCarthy.
Joe: OK guys, so what was everyone’s opinion on Star Wars Rebels?
Jack: I liked it. I think they did a very good job of giving it a Star Wars flavor. The actual design and look of the show called back a lot to the original Star Wars Trilogy. Some of the scenes looked like they were lifted directly from the original escape from the Death Star in A New Hope. I like that they are trying to be more faithful to the Original Trilogy than Clone Wars did. Clone Wars always seemed lifeless to me in the way it did it’s animation. There was more of a sense of fun to Rebels than the Prequels or the Clone Wars. These guys are out causing mischief and they like causing mischief.
Joe: Rebels is definitely borrowing the feel from the Original Trilogy. You have a crew that are basically a bunch of space pirates searching the galaxy for valuable merchandise that they can sell illegally to a trader and that is similar to what Han Solo and Chewbacca were doing when we first met them in A New Hope.
Andrew: I like that the Empire is prevalent. There is an ominous threat to the residents of the planet. I do feel that Disney kind of Disneyfied some of the show by introducing the main character, Ezra, who reminded me a lot of Aladdin, but it works.
Joe: I totally agree. The first scene where you see Ezra, is basically the opening scene where we first meet Aladdin in his movie. Ezra is an orphaned street rat who is using his wits to survive but you can also tell that he has a good heart, trying to help those that cannot defend themselves. I also felt that it reminded me of the opening scene of Indian Jones And The Last Crusade, where we meet young Indy trying to prevent the theft of a sacred relic by some thieves. At the end the leader of the group tips his hat, and literally gives it to Indy, in away telling him that he admired his skills. This happened with Ezra and the crew of the Ghost. They were both after the same merchandise and being chased by Stormtroopers in the process. In the end, some of the crew saw something special in Ezra and asked him to work with them, not against them.
Jack: I also felt that way and saw Ezra more as Aladdin instead of a Luke Skywalker. And I can totally see the Indiana Jones reference too. I especially liked that the show just blended well especially by taking some Aladdin elements, some Indiana Jones elements and definitely some Star Wars elements and it all just fit well the way they put it together.
Joe: I definitely agree and instantly liked the characters and found them much more relatable than any characters in The Clone Wars.
Andrew: Yeah, those do-do droids always got on my nerves and just found it very difficult to sit through an episode of Clone Wars.
Jack: The Clone Wars had the initial problem where it is kind of hard to root for the guy you know will eventually turn into Darth Vader.
Andrew: That is a very good point. This is definitely not the Clone Wars. The Empire is the main villain in Rebels and it does bring a feel of the Original Trilogy back. It also reminds me of World War II movies where the Nazi’s are the villains and they will take over a town and basically you either do what we tell you or we will just take over your business and home and your family will be out on the street. You see in Rebels, the Empire turning over stands and it feels like the citizens are under an occupying army and also the marching and the uniforms.
Jack: I like the term that you used Andrerw, occupying army, because that is exactly what they are doing. They were putting the inhabitants in their place as opposed to getting them to join the Empire.
Andrew: Even just with the opening scene where you see a Star Destroyer above the planet’s atmosphere, it just felt like more of a legitimate threat and it really felt like Star Wars. You start to appreciate things like that.
Jack: Yes, that’s it. The elements are being pulled in and automatically you know you are watching Star Wars. There are a few episodes in and they are able to capture the feel and are also capturing the fun.
Andrew: That Disney already announced a second season means they see something good in Rebels.
Joe: One thing about these characters is that I believe them. I don’t know if it is the writing or the voice acting but I never felt that way with the Clone Wars. When a character doesn’t like a character, you legitimately believe it. And the great part is everyone can enjoy it. It’s not dumbed down for children, so adults can enjoy it too without feeling embarrassed about watching it. It sometimes does not feel like a cartoon and more like a drama.
Jack: Yes, even though it is on Disney XD, it doesn’t feel like a kiddy show. It was scripted as though at times Ezra and Zeb are really bickering and getting on each others nerves. You definitely get a feel from that from the script and there is emotion with the voice actors. With the Clone Wars, everyone talked so monotone that it could put you to sleep.
Andrew: Just judging from the first few episode, you can tell the script is written very well. I also felt the animation was much better than The Clone Wars too. It reminded me of Pixar animation.
Jack: The animation style turned me off with the Clone Wars, even though it did get better as it went on. For example Anakin’s nose and chin were a little to much edged and defined. Hard edges on characters pulled you out of it. Animation needs a softer look.
Joe: I remember one time I was talking to Andrew, and his son happened to be with him, and I mentioned to his son that Clone Wars is now available on Netflix and he replied, “That show is for babies.” And that’s how I felt. I just didn’t find it interesting for adults and there was a lot of child like humor. Disney’s, as well as other animation studios, best animated movies are those where they never talked down to children and left something in there that adults can enjoy too. And a lot of the lines in Clone Wars made me cringe and roll my eyes sometimes, where finally at some point I just said, “That’s it, I give up.” I have yet to see this yet with Rebels. And like Jack had mentioned, I just could not relate to Anakin in the movies mostly because I always thought he was a whiney, pompous, annoying jack ass, that if everything didn’t go his way, he picked up his toys and would go home.
Jack: That is the thing that I could never understand. You want me to root for this guy, but eventually he will turn on all his friends and kill them.
Joe: Another thing that I didn’t like is that the Jedi were so emotional. I know I am going to get hate for this but I didn’t like Ahsoka. To me she was just to emotional and I always felt that Jedi should always keep their cool when being confronted with a difficult situation. Not say things like, “Uh-oh, we’re in trouble now!”
Jack: Now that is where I disagree with you. Ahsoka was one of the better aspects of the Clone Wars. She was the character that you could relate to more than any other Jedi. The other Jedi were so restrained. Ahsoka was the outsider who was stuck in the middle of these larger than life characters that helped pulled the audience in from the outsider or every man perspective.
Joe: Are any of you watching it with your kids?
Jack: Yes. I am watching it with my son and he is really enjoying it. His favorite character is Chopper (the droid).
Joe: Chopper kind of surprised me. When I saw clips of the show I was afraid he was going to be annoying and put in there for comic relief and maybe be a combination of R2D2 and Jar Jar Binks, but I am surprised that he is one of my favorite characters. He mostly is in the background but when he does do something it is amusing and he seems to have an edge over some of the characters intelligence wise.
Jack: Chopper is causing the trouble; he is not like Jar Jar, who was always bumbling along. Chopper seems to have an attitude all of his own.
Joe: Yeah, like he doesn’t do the “Uh-oh” that the R2 units would do in the Prequels. He is fun to watch. You see him antagonizing some of the characters. And he is not annoying. He is a good character and he comes off as a robot and doesn’t show off too much personality.
Andrew: I like Zeb. He is all personality. He likes to use his fists.
Joe: Let me go down the line and talk about some of the characters. We already talked about Ezra. Let’s talk about Zeb. Zeb is kind of like Chewbacca or basically a shaven Wookiee.
Andrew: A rare purple shaven Wookiee. That was a great scene!
Jack: Zeb is your typical big strong guy on a superhero team. I am wondering after watching the first episode if Zeb is younger than we think he is?
Joe: Why would you say that?
Jack: Just because of the horsing around with Ezra. If Zeb was an older character, I don’t think he would be doing so much horseplay. Maybe because we are making assumptions about of him because he is big and grouchy that we are thinking he is older, but maybe he is a teenage himself. He may be so impulsive because he is young.
Joe: That could be.
Jack: I think he is a fun character, definitely.
Joe: So the next character I want to talk about is Hera and she kind of reminds me of Zoe from Firefly.
Jack: Yeah, actually that is a good call. The Ghost is really her ship. She is the pilot and actually she is making more calls than Kanan, the Jedi. I liked her. She seems like a cool character. She seems like the grown up on the ship.
Joe: Yeah I liked her a lot too. I liked her personality and the design of the character.
Andrew: Hera seems to be the most sensible of all of the characters. She saw potential in Ezra first and was constantly trying to convince Kanan that he should be part of the crew.
Joe: The one I forgot to mention was Kanan. To me he is a combination of Han Solo and Obi-Wan.
Jack: I like how they put a mix on him. Honestly after the Prequels, I did not want to see just another stiff Jedi. He kind of reminds me of a cowboy Jedi. Like from the old Westerns, where a lone gunslinger walks into town and is a peacekeeper and takes on any trouble that comes the town’s way. I like the feel that we all knew that he was going to be a Jedi but it wasn’t overly apparent right away in the movie. Even in the movie, when he had his first moment and he stands up and takes the two pieces of his lightsaber and ignites it, it was like a “Damn!” moment. Like Ok, this is going to be good. It’s on now.
Joe: Yeah, I really liked that. I thought that was a good reveal for the character.
Jack: He just seems fun. I wish the Jedi were more like him in the Prequels. It would have been a hell of allot more fun.
Joe: Well that was what the Prequels were missing, a Han Solo character.
Jack: Well they put that Han Solo cockiness into Anakin but once again, you knew who he was going to turn into. I honestly feel that people give Hayden Christensen a lot of grief, but I think most of the blame goes to George Lucas.
Joe: Oh definitely!
Andrew: Hayden was just doing his job and reading the script.
Jack: Even the direction. You have great actors like Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson and you make them boring and just cardboard cut outs reading lines.
Andrew: I haven’t watched as many episodes as you two have. Can you tell me a little bit about the Inquisitor?
Joe: He hasn’t show up yet. Looks like he will be in the 5th episode though.
Jack: Yeah, he is a cool visual but he hasn’t really done anything. Eventual the Inquisitor will fight Kanan from what was seen in the previews. But right now they have a captain, comander or admiral being the recurring villain and he is a cold-hearted guy.
Joe: That is Agent Kallus. He is your typical admiral that Vader chokes to death once he has had enough of him.
Jack: Well he is kind of rotten. The way in the first episode how he and a Stormtrooper are hanging on for dear life and the Stormtrooper asks him, “haven’t you ever seen a Jedi before?” And he just kicks the Stormtrooper to his death. LOL
Joe: The one person that we left out was the other girl on the ship and her name is Sabine. I know I said I didn’t have any negatives but I don’t like that she has a pink helmet. It’s like a female Jedi having a pink lightsaber and riding a My Little Pony. Jack, I think you said she is a Mandalorian?
Jack: Well it looks like a Madalorian helmet, but I don’t know if she is one for sure? They really haven’t done that much with her. We haven’t seen her fight yet. Does she have exploding paint?
Andrew: Yes. I she is an explosives expert.
Joe: I do like Sabine as a character though, but we haven’t seen her do much yet.
Joe: I just remember another negative, the baby Wookiee!
Jack: You really have to let that go. That kid has come and gone.
Andrew: Yeah, the way you made it sound, I thought he was in it for the whole episode and it was maybe 10 minutes, if that.
Joe: With an annoying character, 10 minutes is more like 2 hours in Joe time. LOL Yeah, he wasn’t in it that long but it just made me think of the Star Wars Christmas Special and Chewbacca’s son, Lumpy.
Lumpy, Chewbacca’s son and most annoying kid ever. :
Jack: Joe, it was the 70’s. It was a wild time for everybody. LOL
Joe: Even still, I don’t want to see Chewbacca’s wife wearing an apron. And a little baby Wookiee kissing Chewbacca. In my world, if a Wookiee kid was annoying, Wookiee’s would either throw them out of the tree house or eat them. None of this lovey dovey bonk, bonk on head stuff. (Star Trek reference)
Andrew and Jack: Just let it go, Joe.
Joe: LOL. OK, back on track. I thought the Imperial Star Destroyer, TIE Fighters and Speeder Bikes looked and sounded incredible.
Jack: Oh yeah, I really enjoyed the music and the sound effects. Let’s face it, when you hear a TIE Fighter coming, you know what it is.
Andrew: Yes, it’s a very distinct sound. I also wanted to reiterate how great the music was and how it took me back to the Original Trilogy.
Joe: Another thing I wanted to mention was the Stormtroopers vs. the Clone Troopers. I never liked that the Clone Troopers had the same voice and they were kind of like Lemmings. These Storm Troopers have their own personality.
Jack: Well the Clones were raised under identical circumstances and were trained the same way. They eventually did develop their own personality, which I liked. The Clone Troopers never really bothered me when there were so many other things that did. LOL
Joe: Maybe I am just relieved to see the Stormtroopers back.
Jack: Well you can’t go wrong with a Storm Trooper. Let’s hope they keep going in the direction that they are going in.
Joe: Recently we have seen them bring in some old characters from the movie, like Darth Vader, Obi-Wan and the Droids. Can you see them bringing in more characters from the Original Trilogy? I can see them bringing in Han Solo.
Jack: I don’t know about Han.
Joe: The crew of the Ghost is basically a bunch of space pirates and that is what Han and Chewie were. So I can see at some point that they will meet up at some point.
Andrew: I read that this series takes place 5 years before A New Hope, so I could see it.
Jack: I didn’t realize it was only 5 years before A New Hope. If that is the case, we could even see characters from the Mos Eisley Cantina. Like the guy who had his arm chopped off by Obi-Wan. They also built up storylines about the characters hanging out in the bar in various books too.
Joe: I am sure that if we see Han, we will see Boba Fett.
Jack: Yeah, the same thing. Boba Fett had a reputation even before Empire Strikes Back. Also the Bounty Hunters. They could be operating and doing what they did in the Original Trilogy.
Joe: Any last thoughts?
Jack: I just wanted to say that I don’t think this series is being written solely for kids, it’s for a general audience. I keep remembering what they did to Ultimate Spider-man and Avengers Assemble on Disney XD. They used to have a good strong storyline for both Spider-man and Avengers that anyone could watch and enjoy, adult or kid. Like my son, he still loves Spectacular Spider-man and Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes, but he could care less about Ultimate Spider-man and Avengers Assemble because it doesn’t make sense. At 10 years old, he gets bored with it because there isn’t enough story or it is too dumbed down and I am just not getting that feel from Rebels. And I hope they keep it up and that they don’t dumb it down for the kids.
Joe: Well, we have seen 4 episodes and they haven’t yet.
Andrew: I wanted to mention that with the music playing at the end credits of the episode it felt so much like the end of a Star Wars movie and I really didn’t expect that and appreciated it. The music throughout Rebels, you can tell, was taken directly from the Original Trilogy and it felt almost like a short Star Wars movie. Like Jack said, It’s not just for little kids. Its for teens and young adults.
Joe: I have to agree with the both of you. It was really a nice surprise to experience a quality animated series, especially a Star Wars animated series. I don’t think we have ever seen that before, even going all the way back to the 70’s and 8o’s when they had that awful Droids and Ewoks cartoons on Saturday mornings. Who knows what the future movies will bring us? Episode VII could be amazing or it could be horrible. We will just have to wait and see. But if Rebels is a sign of things to come, it seems like the Star Wars franchise is in good hands and Disney has finally given me, a new hope.