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Star Wars Rebels isn’t a home run. Star Wars Rebels is a grand slam. I hate to use sports analogies but it just seems spiritually true in this instance.
Tonight my wife Amanda Ward, Randy Lo Gudice, and Jeremy Conrad attended a screening of the two part opening film and a single episode. It was really awesome to be on the Disney lot and see the animation studio where so many insanely iconic and legendary works stemmed from. But don’t read me wrongly, that doesn’t get me starstruck in a way that affects my judgement in what I’m about to reassuringly tell you regarding the new Star Wars series. Oh yeah, we had sandwiches and cookies too which was awesome.
In July, I gushed about Star Wars Rebels‘ opening “movie of the week.” I still stand by my assessment. In fact, I stand by it with even firmer resolve. After seeing Star Wars Rebels again tonight, finished, I am more indoctrinated into the “Star Wars Rebels kicks tons of ass” camp than ever before. On my second viewing, I can tell you that the movie has a lot of heart and it doesn’t fade on repeated viewings. It worked just as well on my second viewing as it did for my first.
Tonight, I saw an episode of the series itself, the 4th episode that will air, and the sixth in their production timeline. The opening movie had so much heart, I was curious if the television series could maintain the weight Simon Kinberg dropped in the first two episodes. The stand-alone episode we saw tonight was written by Henry Gilroy and I can tell you that he nailed it. It also does something that hits really hard. I don’t even want to hint at it, but it just makes me say “man!” And its damn good and its great for fans of Star Wars that have been with the franchise heavily in the last few years. I was also really impressed by the use of a classic line that framed the episode and thematically drove it, leading to the greatest atonement I’ve seen in an animated Star Wars story. Henry Gilroy has mastered Star Wars writing. I’m so glad he’s back.
Surprisingly, the characterization and humor is much better in the 4th episode and it was fantastic in the first two. Because no time is spent on introducing characters, you just get to bask in the heroes’ personalities and they really are very likeable, relatable, and endearing. Chopper and Zeb just consistently offer great laughs. Kanan and Hera’s paternalistic qualities do not appear to be anywhere near tiring or problematic. After reading a few books, a novel, seeing three episodes of the show, and a ton of shorts the content just keeps working and getting better. The series isn’t starting from a bad place at all. I think eight years of Star Wars: The Clone Wars allowed for Star Wars Rebels to find the right team and just hit the ground running faster than ever before.
I wish this were the spoiler review because there is so much I want to talk about and tell you guys about. Obviously, I can’t at this time. But I just want every Star Wars fan to know that greatness is coming our way. You won’t be displeased. They’ve nailed this. Disney’s first real outing with Star Wars is a success. Things are as great as they always were and in fact, they’re really looking better on a lot of fronts. As long as Dave Filoni is around, I think Star Wars is going to be in great hands.
I love Star Wars. If Star Wars Rebels was horrible, my heart would be broken. Thankfully, Star Wars Rebels is brilliant, inspired, funny, heartfelt, character driven, mystical, and the best cartoon series I’ve ever seen. The wait for Star Wars: Episode VII isn’t going to be as bad as it could be, thanks to this show.