Thanks to my cable provider (sorry Elaine), I was finally able to watch the premiere movie of Star Wars Rebels. As Jason and Andrew have already written up excellent reviews, I thought I would take a slightly different approach and “live blog” my thoughts while I watched. Below is a transcript of my instant reaction as I was watching. If you haven’t watched the movie this will make no sense to you. Obviously, spoilers below!
Pre-show thoughts – I’ve seen all the commercials, clips and previews but I haven’t read A New Dawn. I wonder how much of is left to actually impress or surprise me. While I’m happy that Rebels has gotten the marketing push from Disney that it deserves, the somewhat unavoidable downside is that we got to see almost too much of the show before it even aired. From those clips, I’m already a big fan of Kanan and Sabine. Both of those character designs and personalities strike the right chord with me. I’m ready to cheer them on and hope they don’t (gulp) die. On the opposite end, I’m not that thrilled with Ezra. He reminds me (and others) of Aladdin and he just seems like a little too much pandering to the kids. But maybe that’s a necessity. The sling shot though is just silly.
02:30 – Ezra can “feel” Kanan’s presence in the Force (presumably) but Kanan seems oblivious. That’s interesting. Is Ezra more Force sensitive than Kanan?
03:22 – I love the design of these imperial biker scouts. They look fantastic. In fact, almost everything Empire related has been a home run for me from a design perspective. They look menacing and cool at the same time. Makes me want to buy toys.
08:35 – First interaction between Kanan and Hera. Hera calls him “love”. This simple exchange immediately made me think of Johna flailing. Excellent and subtle way for the writers to raise questions about the relationship between Kanan and Hera for viewers who haven’t read A New Dawn.
13:40 – First mention of Governor Tarkin! I like the references to bigger threats like the mention of the Emperor throughout Episode IV.
14:40 – Our heroes giving away free food Robin Hood style. I like it. This scene is important. While they may have to take jobs that have them essentially selling arms to a shady character, they’re still trying to help the regular people in any way that they can. Having said that, they still are providing imperial grade arms to a gangster. Could that come to bite them in their collective butts in the future? We saw the opposite happen in The Clone Wars where the Republic had to use Hondo Ohnaka and his access to weapons to aid Ahsoka and the…er…rebels on Onderon. Interesting callback whether intentional or not. In the OT we saw the criminal underground act as essentially Imperial allies. Will we see the underground be rebel supporters in this show?
15:00 – Surprisingly, Ezra isn’t as annoying to me as I thought he would be. He’s not whiny or cheesy. Seems like an okay kid. Still skeptical.
16:18 – Whoa! Holocron!!! Awesome.
16:30 – I simply love Kanan’s lightsaber hilt. Very Samurai inspired.
17:30 – One aspect of the character designs that I find distracting are the eyes. Ezra, Sabine, Zeb and Hera have HUGE eyes. Sometimes it looks like they’re not focused either.
19:22 – The Imperial Transport looks awesome. I wasn’t that impressed when I saw the concept art but fully rendered it has quite a presence.
20:11 – My first actual laugh out loud moment. Zeb pretending to be a Wookiee and imitating the roar is HILARIOUS. I have to say, I don’t think I ever laughed like that during a Clone Wars episode. Very reminiscent of A New Hope. Comedy is hard to pull off. They did it well here.
22:07 – I love the worn look of the Ghost exterior. Welcome back lived in universe!
22:43 – Orange pauldron stormtrooper! Or is it a sandtrooper? Very cool. I wonder what other kinds of distinct stormtroopers we will see throughout the show. One of the cool things about The Clone Wars was all the various clone troopers we got to see. I enjoyed the designs of Rex, Wolffe, Thorn, Doom and others. The toy possibilities are endless!
23:09 – I’ve seen this gravity trick in numerous commercials and previews but watching the full execution is cool. It was a good plan by our heroes. How often do we get to say that for an animated show? Or any show?
24:10 – I can’t believe Zeb just ditched Ezra like that. Wow! Bold move by the writers and I love it. Definitely adds more layers to Zeb’s character in particular, and to the Ghost crew generally.
26:50 – This shouldn’t be a surprise, but wow the stormtroopers are bad at their job. Like painfully bad. Their idea of “searching” Ezra is taking his bag?
27:10 – Is Ezra praying? That’s strange. To whom? He doesn’t really know the Force yet.
27:30 – Strangely slow response from Ezra when the holocron opens and Obi-Wan starts talking. He sat there with his eyes closed for a good few seconds into the recording and then looked shocked. Not sure what was happening there.
28:25 – Again…the stormtroopers are REALLY bad at their job. But I had to laugh at the troopers looking at each other after they get locked in by Ezra. Great example of how you can still show emotion despite the characters wearing a helmet.
30:53 – Sabine’s bomb is awesome. Executed in such a cool way. Her character is really shining in this movie.
31:16 – Well that was easy. Who would have thought that taking your ship back to a star destroyer, sneaking on despite Kallus expecting you, grabbing the hostage and escaping would be so easy. Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie and Ben really should have just let these guys take on the Death Star!
31:45 – Kessel! Cool to hear what it’s like working on Kessel.
32:37 – I really wish that youngling Wookiee was Gunji. I miss Gunji. His lightsaber was one of the best designs. Also, if you want to get Star Wars fans to really hate the bad guys, then have them do bad things to young Wookiees. It will work every time.
32:50 – The Ghost swoops in from above to save the day much in the same manner as the Falcon did at the end of A New Hope. Oh hi there ANH reference!
33:09 – Stormtroopers…guys…seriously. Is there not an academy? Aren’t old clones “training” these guys? They’re standing there shooting at a ship’s door as the door opens and our heroes are just standing there. Why even bother taking cover if you’re the crew of the Ghost?
34:28 – Impressive entrance by Kallus and his stormtroopers. Most impressive.
34:45 – A stormtrooper hit something!!! Pop the champagne! Most shocking moment in Star Wars history given the context (unsurprisingly, the Wookiee is fine).
34:52 – Seriously impressive show of strength there by Zeb throwing a big Wookiee on his back and running!
35:34 – This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for as Kanan reveals himself to be a Jedi. Watching Kanan get up and boldly walk towards the firing Imperials was epic. He’s casually evading blaster fire too which we haven’t seen Jedi do before. It would be more impressive if the stormtroopers could hit anything but nevertheless its an exciting moment in the movie.
38:02 – Second laugh out loud moment of the show! Kallus kicking the stormtrooper off the pole was genius. Serves the dual purpose of making Kallus look mean and cold hearted and also letting us enjoy a fun moment. Well done.
38:09 – In what might be the only moment where I felt the animation of the show was lacking, the Wookiee designs don’t look great. I know they intentionally avoided long hair with their characters as it’s more difficult to animate, but it’s still a little disappointing. Their roar sounds great though and I’m still happy to have them on the show.
38:52 – Sabine understands Wookiee. I can’t wait to learn more about that. Sabine is so interesting.
40:12 – Ezra passed “the test”? What was the test? Just having the Force ability to open the holocron? Is that all they were looking for?
40:37 – Cool explanation of the Force by Kanan. Another ANH reference.
41:18 – Very cool landscape shot of the Ghost. I love the art on this show.
41:28 – The holocron doesn’t quite seem to operate in the way I would expect based on Legends material (which might be intentional). Seems to be little more than a recording device really. Is there more than the message from Obi-Wan that we heard? Will it be used to help Kanan/Ezra train? Or are holocrons basically just Jedi voicemail recorders?
42:47 – Love the menacing music for the Inquisitor here. I wish we got to see more of him. I can’t wait to see more.
Closing thoughts – I definitely enjoyed the show. I’m not sure I’m as uber enthusiastic as everyone else seems to be based on this movie alone. I think the movie had some really great moments and they seem to have captured the kind of comedy that I really enjoyed in A New Hope. Most of the characters are really well done and I want to learn more about Kanan, Sabine, Hera, Zeb, Kallus and of course the Inquisitor. However, I’m still not sold on Ezra, and considering he’s the closest thing to a main character we have on the show, that gives me some pause. Many compare him to Ahsoka and fan criticism of her when The Clone Wars began, but I was never in that camp. Not that I loved her from the beginning but I understood her purpose in pushing the overall series and I was on board. I’m not as clear on Ezra’s purpose (since he’s clearly not the New Hope) other than to be the proxy for many Disney XD viewers. I’m of course willing to find out, but that’s my primary concern for now. But there’s no denying that this movie is an excellent way to kick off this new era of the Star Wars universe and the series is so full of promise that it’s hard not to get excited about it. To put it simply, I can’t wait to see what this show will become.