Let’s Take a Look at Star Wars Rebels

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Rebels has kicked off and…overall, I liked it.  Last week we had the one-hour premiere with a movie on the Disney Channel.  This week the season officially got underway with its first episode on Monday night.

I loved the movie.  I thought it was exactly what Star Wars should be and how they should approach the series.  They stayed away from any characters we knew and the only glimpse we got of a familiar character was a hologram recording of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The recording was the one he released in ROTS, warning all Jedi to stay away from the temple and that the Jedi are no longer safe.

Other than that – we were introduced to a completely new band of characters.  We have Hera the Twi’lek pilot who commands their ship Ghost, Kanan the undercover Jedi, Zeb is the Lasat who is really the tough guy of the operation (and his species is based on original concept drawings of Chewbacca!), Sabine the Mandolorian who is kind of a pyro and graffiti artist, and finally we have a newcomer named Ezra.  A kid of the streets who gets pulled into this little clan and decides to stay to do some Jedi training with Kanan.  Oh, and we can’t forget Chopper: the little astromech droid who helps run the ship.  They did a great job on making him seem pretty different from Artoo, a fear I had.

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The opposition to this team on a larger scale is, obviously, the Empire.  Specifically, at this point we know of two beings: Agent Kallus, an official of the Imperial Security Bureau and The Inquisitor, a Pau’an male who hunts down remaining Jedi.  We have not seen much of him yet – only saw him at the end of the movie when Kallus reported that he had found a Jedi (Kanan).

What I liked most about the movie is that we were introduced to new areas, new people, new ships and my imagination was opened to a part of Star Wars I didn’t know, but there was “something familiar about this place”.  Ralph McQuarrie’s touch was extremely obvious and some of the landscape shots were ripped right off of what he had done for the OT.  Not saying that’s bad, in fact, it gave us the OT feel.

I was most surprised at the time period of Rebels.  Apparently it takes place 5 years BBY.  I completely missed this somehow.  That means that Luke and Leia are 14 and the Jedi have been written off the galaxy for 14 years.  What made me question this time period is that the need to have an Inquisitor means that there are still quite a few Jedi throughout the galaxy.

I don’t like that.  Jedi shouldn’t be that prevalent still, right?  Han Solo was really skeptical of the Force and Luke barely knew anything about Jedi.  If Luke and Leia are 14 at this point, and Han would be older, wouldn’t it mean that the knowledge of Jedi would be a little more common?

Also, they are making this group of misfits look like the beginning of the Rebellion.  The Rebellion should have been pretty much established by this point in the game, even if they are not completely rebellious (pun intended ha!) yet.  The crew on Ghost are smart; I think they would have heard about the Rebellion through their travels across the galaxy and at this point either joined them or aided them in some way.

Which brings me to the first episode of the TV series.  After coming off of a successful premiere movie, I cringed and got angry when I saw C-3PO and R2-D2 appear in the first official episode.  UGH.  Really?? I know that other people have no problems with this but I do.  I was hoping that Rebels would stay away from that trap of bringing in familiar characters to satisfy all audiences.

Seeing Threepio and Artoo made the galaxy seem smaller than it actually is.  Do you really think they would run into these two droids?  Really?artoo threepio star wars rebels  It was completely fine in TCW, because they had every single PT character running around that why not bring in everyone we know?  In fact, I got used to that in TCW.  But Rebels clearly seems to be reminding us that this is a new band of characters on new planets and in new situations.  The cherry on the cake was when they drop off the droids at, of all ships, the Tantive IV with Bail Organa.  (bangs head against wall)  I was expecting a teenage Leia to just stroll in and talk with her father.  Thankfully that did not happen and I was spared, but if we are going to introduce Organa this early in the series, maybe I should just brace myself and expect it to happen at some point.

The only interesting thing about the situation was that Artoo had recorded some of the conversations on Ghost and had brought it back to Organa who noted that they should keep an eye on them.  I still think they could have used other droids and a different character for this, but maybe by the time the series ends it will tie back to bringing the crew of Ghost into the Rebellion.  And, by the way, shouldn’t the droids be pushed off onto Captain Antilles at some point?  They’ve really been with Organa for 14 years?

bail organa rebels

Other than my major grievance with the droids, Tantive IV, and Organa – I think the first episode was pretty cool.  They stuck it to the Empire by stealing their prized weapons that were supposed to be illegal throughout the galaxy, and then later destroying them.  It spoke to an interesting larger lesson: the Empire can do what they want, regardless if weapons are illegal or not.  In the hands of the Empire, those laws are conveniently forgotten if it will further their cause.

Ezra showed us some of his Force powers…he has more than I thought.  But they came into action when he was angry and scared.  Not very Jedi-like, eh?  So Kanan will have to curb that and teach him how to use the Force in a calmer state.  Or will Kanan change the rules a bit and not follow the strict Jedi Code?  Speaking of Kanan…I couldn’t really figure out how old he was.  I was guessing late 20s or early 30’s.  Oh – nevermind, Wookiepedia says he’s 28 and was 14 when Order 66 happened.

Lastly, I wanted to touch briefly upon the tone and style of the series.  I enjoyed the style and the banter between the characters, but my good friend Mr. Reticent pointed out that it was a lot lighter than TCW.  Not only with the situations and how they talked with each other, but also the animation style.  When you contrast the animation, there is a big difference.  TCW was more angular, sharp and it felt like watching a video game sometimes.  Rebels is smooth, almost more “cartoony”, which makes sense considering that it comes from Disney.  The tone of the episodes seemed to play more for a Disney crowd as well…I’m not sure if any of you guys watch The Disney Channel/Disney X D or Cartoon Network – but they are two very different styles and draw in two different crowds.  Both focus more on drawing in boys than girls, but CN is a lot cruder in my opinion.  I find CN to grate on me often and I watch the shows with disbelief that kids watch that channel as it can feel gritty.  Disney X D still seems unfathomable to me at times, but at least I can somewhat relate and understand why a boy would watch a show on the channel.  X D plays it a little safer and perhaps that’s why Rebels also seems to reflect that. (apparently I can’t write X.D. without WP changing it to a gigantic smiley face)

I find it hard to decide whether or not I will like the series based on what I’ve seen.  I loved the movie, giving it an 8.5/10, but felt the first TV show would come in at a 6/10.

 

Okay, I’m almost done, I swear.  Two side notes!

  1. Greg Weisman has left Rebels. I am most sad about this as he was the one person I was really pumped to have part of the show and thought would lead it in a smart, good direction.  But why did he leave?  I can’t find anything online so if anyone has information on this, please let me know to satiate my curiosity.
  2. Kiri Hart. I can’t go further without mentioning her.  You guys know how often I have talked about my unusual name and how I’ve never met anyone else with my name.  Well, guess what?  She is the VP of development at LFL and oversees a lot of the Star Wars content produced by Disney…including Rebels.  Look for her name at the end credits of Rebels.  SUPER WEIRD.  SUPER, SUPER WEIRD.  But I’m loving it.  I would not wish anyone else to have my name but someone at LFL.  It’s a sign.  I’m not sure of what, but it’s a sign.
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How The Clone Wars Succeeded and Failed

With the arrival of Star Wars Rebels, I thought it would be a good time to publish this guest post and look back at the last Star Wars animated series: The Clone Wars.  Please comment and love Icarus’ post on TCW.  His bio is below, if you would like more info.  (My thoughts on Rebels next week)

What can I say about The Clone Wars that hasn’t already been said? Star Wars fans hoped TCW would fill in some critical gaps in the three years between second-trilogy Star Wars films Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith.  Bonus if it fixed a few mistakes in the prequels.  What we got instead were very uncomplicated story arcs and tastes and teases but not much more depth to the Star Wars ecosystem — InterGalactic Banking Clan anyone — certainly not enough to satisfy the appetite of even the more casual fan.

The Clone Wars says goodbye

The Clone Wars says goodbye

The series is over but I’m writing this from the perspective of what potential it had at the beginning.  To be sure, I tried to binge watch the entire series and found that I could only stand to watch one, maybe two episodes at a time.  It was painful to listen to Kabuki theater level dialog overemphasizing the importance of obvious plot devices at the expense of storytelling. That was probably because each episode has to appeal the limited experiences of its kids audience.  In every episode you had comically inept droids trying to kill Clone Troopers and vice versa.  You have to handle this with a certain delicacy for your young audience.  To simultaneously kill bad guys, kill some good guys yet not bring the horrors of war too close to light.  TCW had to do this on the small scale while also keeping its eye on the end game, setting up the landscape for ROTS.

You cannot talk about ROTS without talking about Order 66 and how thousands of Jedi were slaughtered by clone troopers without any hesitation or sense of loyalty to their Jedi generals. I could see the droid army following this order more to the letter than the clone one, although given the level of ineptness portrayed by the combat droids, along with the ease with which Jedi Masters Yoda and Windu dispatched them, the number of Jedi actually killed would have been substantially lower.

I’ve always asked myself how could you pull something like this off?   Putting aside the logistics of getting word simultaneously to every despot in the galaxy, one thing that bothered me was in the movie, they show every Jedi getting ambushed because they were in a vulnerable position.  Yet the Jedi are almost godlike in their awareness and certainly wouldn’t have been just heading into battle as the order came in.  While the galaxy’s preeminent mystics/warriors can be caught by surprise, it’s also just as likely the Empire’s spin doctors exaggerated the number of Traitors eliminated under Order 66 with many more  Jedi  driven into hiding.

Clone trooper clone wars s5ep18War changes everyone and it is possible that Order 66 succeeded because the clone troopers saw the Jedi as an actual threat to the Republic.  Remember to outsiders, the Jedi are a very secretive group that keeps their Archives, a vast repository of knowledge, to themselves (Vatican anyone?). If you view The Force as a hokey religion and the Jedi as the Temple Priests, it follows that ordinary soldiers could see the Jedi as roadblocks to peace.

Though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m aware of the Fives/Tup arc that almost exposed Order 66 prematurely.  I’m probably way off on this but I suspect that arc serves to demonstrate that while moving toward complete domination of the Republic, Chancellor Palpatine wasn’t quite there yet and there is always the slim hope of a few people being in the right place at the right time

What are your thoughts on Order 66 and the clone troopers?

About me:  I am what you would designate as a casual fan at best.  When the original trilogy was out, the conventional “wisdom” at the time was that you could either like Star Wars or Star Trek, not both.  However, I like Star Wars and Star Trek and if that makes me a freak so what. Being from Chicago, I also like the White Sox and the Cubs except when they play each other in inter league.  If you like what you read, please read my regular blog at ChicagoNow and/or my personal blog and if you are on Facebook please give me a “like” at Mysteries-of-Life and of course feel free to follow me on Twitter at @Icarus2013.

Book Review: Dawn of the Jedi

It’s highly entertaining to me that while I was reading the first EU book in over 10 years, LFL announces that all of the EU is now referred to as “Legends” and no longer canon.  It kind of seems like a waste of my time to try to fulfill my resolution of reading one EU book per year.  Should I forget about the previous books and move forward as LFL moves forward with novels?  Or should I continue to read the books of the past?

Aw, shucks that’s a hard decision!

I’m kidding.  Of course I’ll read EU books before they were “Legends”.  As long as they’re good.

But, you know, I don’t read EU books.  I’ve discussed it many times on my blog, but this past experience was a heavy reminder of why I don’t read them.

Because this one sucked.  Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh.  I hate to say any author’s hard work “sucked” because they put a lot of time and effort into it…but LFL: Please don’t let Tim Lebbon write anymore Star Wars novels!

I chose Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void because they had a sample of the first chapter in a Star Wars Insider last year.  I really, really liked the chapter and figured the rest of the book would be the same.  Plus, it’s about Jedi, my favorite!  Originally it was a comic book that was adapted to a novel, so I’m hoping that explains away the reasons I didn’t like it, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

*Spoilers below*

dawn of the jediIn a nutshell: This is not exactly an “origin” story of the Jedi, per se, like I was hoping for.  Instead, it was more of a sampling of the history of the Jedi, more than 25,000 BBY.  They live on a planet called Tython where there are nine temples.  In order to become a Je’daii, you need to travel between each of the temples to gain a well-rounded skill set to become a Master.  I had to look some of that up on Wookiepedia because all I remember was that there was a lot of traveling and temples.

The story focuses on a young Je’daii Ranger named Lanoree Brock, who is tasked with the mission to stop her brother, Dalien Brock (who was thought to be dead), from activating a hypergate.

The story goes between flashbacks of growing up with Dalien and trying to force him into being a Je’daii like herself and the real time of her mission to find him.  While on her mission, she meets up with a Twi’lek named Tre Sana who helps her.

Yup.  That’s the gist of it. Lots of plot. 😉

Pros:

  • Lanoree actually kills her brother at the end of the novel.  I know, strange that this is a pro.  But the whole novel is leading up to this climatic confrontation and you think she is going to “save” him from himself.  Possibly see him regret his actions and become a better person.  But nope, he remains foolhardy (I say foolhardy because he wasn’t necessarily “evil”) until the end of the novel where she has to kill him.
  • We get to see the Jedi as an organization years and years before the Prequels. Before they had lightsabers, they had swords.  They did everything lightsabers do, but were swords instead.  Not much detail on how they made the swords to have the exact same properties as lightsabers, though.
  • The novel was centered around a female protagonist.  Lanoree is practically a robot and it’s hard to feel supportive for her, but at least the main character is a female.  She is a Je’daii who can kick some serious butt and leads the story.  I always like to see books that are written entirely from a female perspective.
  • I learned that Sith were a species before they were the antithesis of the Jedi.  It was really confusing at first to be reading about Lanoree walking by Sith and not freaking out.

Cons:

  • My main problem with this novel was that I never felt attachment to any of the characters.  Lanoree is not a very likeable character lanoree brockand her brother is just annoying, not really evil.  The closest I felt for any character was Tre Sana, but even he was kind of wooden and non-likeable.  I like feeling for characters, rooting for them, and when I put the book down, I want to feel like they were my friends and I have invested my emotions into them.  I want to feel sad when someone dies (or almost dies? It wasn’t entirely clear) as was the case with Tre Sana.  Instead, I felt nothing when he died and thought the way it was written was very strange.
  • The juxtaposition between flashbacks and real time also created a very jarring novel.  I’ve read that style before, and I know it can be done well, but in this case, it made it a lot harder to read.  Lebbon seemed to want to write a fantasy novel during the flashbacks and a science fiction novel in real time.  It seemed like he was trying to mix two genres together and I wasn’t having it.   They never really matched up.  Tython and the Je’daii were the fantasy realm, whereas Lanoree’s mission with Tre Sana was sci-fi.  When Lanoree and Dalien were traveling to the different temples together (flashback) they encountered fantastical beasts, complete with beasts that could withstand the Force.  That’s fine if beasts can withstand the Force, I remember reading of such in Heir to the Empire, but by the time we got to them, it felt like the author was running out of ideas for suspense.
  • I never understood the connection Lanoree felt for her brother.  There were never any flashbacks that gave us the siblings being in tune with each other and completely loving each other.  Each flashback had a sullen, hateful Dalien, and a Lanoree who tried to push her ideals and training of the Force down his throat.  So where was this supposed connection and love coming from?  Was it just the whole “blood is thicker than water” thing?
  • The writing was horrible and there was very little actual plot.  I felt like I was reading an airport novel.  It consistently left chapters on bad cliffhangers that didn’t make me want to turn the page.  The dialogue was bland, and though there was a lot of action packed into the pages…it felt like nothing really happened.

Okay, there was more than just these points, but I feel like I would end up complaining way too much.  I think I had high hopes for this book since I liked the excerpt from Insider so much.  It’s never good when you have high hopes, because then you are bound to be disappointed.

I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads because it wasn’t HORRIBLE.  But it was forgettable and it sums up why I stopped reading EU books in the first place.  When you get a bad Star Wars EU book, it’s pretty bad.

However, I’ve had some suggestions from Mei-Mei recommending Choices of One and Null recommended Darth Plagueis, and I’ve heard good things about both.  Maybe I should just start at the beginning and read the Thrawn Trilogy again…I think it’s been enough time to revisit them.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Geek out!

So I wanted to talk a little more in depth about a few different announcements that have happened in the last two weeks, while I’ve been buried in work for our conference.

  1. The Expanded Universe has “turned a new page” according to LFL.  Read: they disintegrated the EU.
  2. The Episode VII cast announcement.  One more thought.
  3. Star Wars Rebels trailer released Sunday.

#1 – “No disintegrations” did not apply to the Star Wars EU

On April 25th, LFL announced that the EU “turns a new page” and is setting out to keep everything as consistent as possible.  Kennedy formed a Lucasfilm Story Group to help with this process of keeping everything organized and coherent.  Legendary Pablo Hidalgo (I swear, he knows EVERYTHING about Star Wars), Leland Chee, Carrie Beck, and Diana Williams comprise this group.

In plain English…the EU is no longer canon.  The movies, The Clone Wars, and the future Star Wars Rebels is what will be the foundation for canon.  There are also a few new novels coming out that will fit into this canon storyline.

How do I feel about this?  Honestly, I’m not surprised at all.  I’ve written before about how I’m not a huge fan of the EU and I’m actually more surprised that other fans are shocked and upset.  How are you guys that stunned?  Did you really think that after the announcement of Episode VII, LFL would keep the EU as is?

As a corporation, you can’t be wishy-washy about this stuff.  You have to be black and white.  And I applaud LFL for making an announcement that puts any other hopes to rest.  There was NO way they were ever going to keep the EU canon, and I had touched upon that briefly before.  But apparently there were many, many fans that thought somehow there would be a chance for the EU and the future movies to coincide peacefully.

Really?

Let’s look at this brief text conversation between my brother-in-law and I:

BIL: “What do you think about the Star Wars EU no longer being canon?”

ME: “Completely fine with it.  I thought the EU was getting wild at some points and Lucas seemed to be okaying everything.  And they formed that team to make everything cohesive at LFL.  I’m also not surprised because I figured this would be coming once they announced VII.”

“…I feel that this is unfairly dismissive of all the people who did a ton of creative work (and made them a ton of money) to just ret-con it now.  Also, I felt like it anything was getting crazy, it was the Clone Wars (what with crazy robot spider Darth Maul), and that apparently remains in the canon with the 6 movies.  I really felt like other than the OT, the EU was Star Wars’ greatest strength, and it seems weird and arrogant to dismiss it.”

“Yeah, Darth Maul’s revival was completely dumb, but some of TCW was really good and I enjoyed it.  I mean, yes, in a sense they are dismissing the EU but it’s not disappearing.  People will still read and enjoy the work.  I’m just surprised that you’re so surprised.  I thought it was obvious as soon as they announced more movies.”

…etc, etc.  There was more.  But that’s the gist of it.

mara jade

Am I the only one confused and not surprised at all?  When I heard about this, I just moved on with my life thinking, “Well, duh,” but it wasn’t until a few days later that I saw all the outrage that I began to get confused.  Does it also have to do with my feelings of ambivalence towards the EU?  Perhaps the more attached you are, the more furious your outcry is.  But that still doesn’t explain why people are surprised.

Abrams can’t be attached to the EU and can’t be confined by it.  Neither can anyone at LFL now that Disney has taken over.  It would be fun if Luke had a wife with red hair, but that was the extent of my hoping.

The novels written for the EU will not all of a sudden be taken off the shelves.  They won’t be banned and burned.  They will still exist and future generations can still enjoy them and perhaps wish to live in a time period like we did, where we didn’t know there was ever going to be more Star Wars movies. Nor do I agree with my brother-in-law’s comment that it is dismissive to the author’s work.  I’m sure that 20 years from now, the people who have read the Courtship of Princess Leia are the fans you know are hardcore.

#2 – One more thought…

The bigger news last week was the Episode VII cast announcement.  I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t until Mei-Mei’s comment on my post that I realized there was only one new female within the cast.  Actually, when looking at the entire cast, there are only two females.  TWO.  Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and the newbie, Daisy Ridley.

Don’t judge yet, guys.  I mean, if we base this on history, we will probably have a leading male figure, with Daisy playing a supporting role.

But…don’t judge yet.  Ridley may be on for VIII and IX and could be a force to be reckoned with.  I really believe that modern cinema had a breakthrough with the Hunger Games movies and realized that a female CAN be the lead in an action-packed film and there doesn’t need to be an oversaturation of romance for it to be a blockbuster.  Let’s hope they take a page out of that book (pun haha!) and move in that direction.  Let’s see what happens.

Abrams has also hinted that there will be more casting announcements coming soon.  Can’t wait!

#3 – Star Wars Rebels Trailer

Thoughts?  This is the first concrete thing we’ve seen about Rebels other than updates on casting and concept art.  My issue with this is wondering what they will do with Kanan Jarrus at the end of the series?  It’s the same question that bothered me about Ahsoka in TCW.  I thought she had to die in order for the show to make any kind of sense with ROTS.  Instead, they played it a lot more beautifully, with her disenchantment with the Jedi and abandonment of their ways.

So what will happen with Kanan?  Another disappearance?  Or will they actually kill him off?  I feel like when you bring a Jedi into the mix, it just gets a lot more complicated.

Also – why are Ezra’s eyes such a weird color?

Those are all the thoughts that were tumbling in my head last week.  Hope everyone had a good May the 4th!  I celebrated by baking my Star Wars shortbread cookies, like I do every year.  Did you guys celebrate at all?

Hmmm...I've never heard Kirsten mention Star Wars.  Ever.  Fan or jumping on the bandwagon?

Hmmm…I’ve never heard Kirsten mention Star Wars. Ever. Fan or jumping on the bandwagon?  Nice dress though!

Haiku 04.03.14

Bringing in a little EU today…

Two blue lightsabers, Accompanied by two red. Asajj holds her guard

Two blue lightsabers,
Accompanied by two red.
Asajj holds her guard

 

As for my life?

I’m bored with all this
Within, I’m getting antsy
Driven.  Obsessive.