[photos: Disney XD]
Prior to the premiere of Star Wars Rebels on the Disney Channel, four internet shorts were released between August and September, each three to five minutes long and showcasing the main characters of the series: street-smart Ezra Bridger, former Jedi Knight Kanan, pilot Hera, alien bruiser Zeb, Mandalorian pyro Sabine, and crusty astromech Chopper.
The series take place after Order 66 and the Great Jedi Purge, but before the events of A New Hope, so the visuals don’t lift completely from Star Wars: The Clone Wars (meaning we get TIE fighters!).
The tone feels lighter and more juvenile, with a distinct aim at a younger audience than the more mature Clone Wars was going for (hence its airing on Disney XD). The violence, at least in these shorts, seems more like slapstick – pratfalls, physical comedy, large explosions knocking everyone down but no one gets killed, Chopper the astromech expressing his frustration by flailing his little droid arms around. So it’s The A-Team version of the Star Wars – violent, but still fun for kids.
The animation is definitely in the same vein as the Clone Wars series (CGI computer animation), but the art seems more cartoon-y by comparison. Sure, Clone Wars was stylized in its own right, but this seems even more so. Facial features and physicality are ramped up and exaggerated. A brighter color palette matches the lighter tone as well (even the Mandalorian is decked out in pinks and purples).
Not mandatory viewing to enjoy the show by any means, but for completists, they are fun and set the tone for the upcoming series nicely. My early favorite of the leads is Chopper.
“Property of Ezra Bridger”
Ezra is walking across a field when he spies a TIE fighter being shot out of the sky by the Ghost, the Rebel ship. He goes to the crash site to see what he can salvage. The pilot, who survived the crash, is more than a little recalcitrant.
Ezra opens the TIE fighter hatch and jumps inside with the pilot. Once inside, he starts stealing pieces off the interior, including the pilot’s helmet, to sell on the black market. The pilot uses his still functioning weapons to shoot at Ezra. Ezra fights back with an energy slingshot that incapacitates the pilot.
Zeb, another of our erstwhile heroes (not to mention a big purple alien), picks a fight with some Stormtroopers shaking down a native. This draws the attention of other Stormtroopers and the pilot of a TIE fighter. Heads are busted as Zeb brawls with them.
The music is a nice homage to the marketplace scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Zeb is a member of a completely new alien race to the Star Wars universe.
Sabine, a Mandalorian member of the Rebels, sneaks into a TIE fighter airfield.
She paints graffiti of the rebel symbol on the wing of a TIE fighter but is caught in the act. Hijinks ensue as she then plants an explosive on one of the fighters, catching several Stormtroopers in the explosion.
“The Machine in the Ghost”
Hera and Kanan (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) take on TIE fighters in their ship, the Ghost, with a little help from their astromech droid Chopper.
The comms are out, the shields are failing, they’re taking enemy fire, and poor Chopper is caught in the middle of all of it, playing a game of Telephone under fire between Hera and Kanan. While our two humanoids are able to destroy the bulk of the fighters, Chopper takes it upon himself to destroy the last one, to the appreciation of no one. An astromech droid’s life is tough…
All the shorts can be found here: http://www.starwars.com/tv-shows/star-wars-rebels
Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”