Tag Archive: Star Wars: Rebels


Star Wars Battlefront

This weekend’s Star Wars Celebration held this year in Anaheim has seen a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which we revealed here at borg.com earlier this week, and today new previews just dropped for the coming season of Star Wars Rebels and a new video game, Star Wars Battlefront.  It makes sense that Disney and its new company Lucasfilm would be pulling out all the stops in this banner year for the franchise.

Since Disney took over the Star Wars brand, we’ve seen new canon universe novels (Star Wars: A New Dawn, previewed here, Tarkin, previewed here, and Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi, previewed here, thanks to advance copies from LucasBooks).  And we saw a record for bestselling comic book release with this year’s new Marvel Comics Star Wars monthly, discussed here.  We can only expect more from now until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.

Star Wars Rebels clip season 2

If you’re not in Anaheim this weekend, you can still catch what’s going on via live streaming on YouTube here:

You can see new Stormtroopers (and their weaponry) on stage with director J.J. Abrams and members of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast old and new here (worth checking out):

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Lando in Star Wars Rebels

We initially had some trepidation when it came to the new Disney animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels, set five years before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) and 14 years after Episode III.  We reviewed the first movie length pilot episode here, now available on DVD at Amazon.com here.  Focus on the younger character Ezra and the more cartoony silliness initially pointed to kids as the target audience for the show.  But as the series gained its stride, it became not only a good tie-in for diehard Star Wars fans, but something real, honest to goodness, Star Wars canon fans can be excited about, with its inclusion of original trilogy cast members as voice actors.  And its primary and supporting cast work will have you wanting to watch it again and eagerly anticipate Season Two when it returns to Disney XD at your next binge session.

The high point surprised us: The return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in an adventure before The Empire Strikes Back.  If you hate the fact that his primary role in the original trilogy was as a betrayer of Han Solo, you can finally see why Han previously was friends with him.  Sure, he was an opportunist even back then, but he was also skillful and suave, and, believe it or not, much cooler than he was portrayed in the movies.  That’s something worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels C-3PO

But it didn’t stop with Billy Dee Williams.  The first episode, “Droids in Distress,” featured the return of Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3P0.  In the ninth episode the great and powerful Frank Oz returned to voice the part of Yoda, in “Path of the Jedi.”  And how about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader again?  You can’t really get more canon than that.  Well, at least until we see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker (and not only just hear them) return in Episode VII later his year.

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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Jaws 3-D movie poster 1983

Review by C.J. Bunce

When I was a kid I remember paying $5 at the geek show part of a carnival to see a giant great white shark. We were taken into a long trailer and were able to walk around it, suspended in some kind of clear block. It was sad, horrifying, and shocking that someone would display an animal this way.  After watching Jaws 3-D for our review of Halloween films, I had some of the same feelings return.

You’re not supposed to cheer for the monster in a monster movie like Jaws 3-D.  And yet I found myself hoping the shark would consume all this early 1980s fashion and bad moviemaking.  Every actor earns his or her sea legs in a different way, and here was Dennis Quaid (Enemy Mine, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), Bess Armstrong (House of Lies), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), and Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) before they all would make names for themselves in much bigger and better films.  There’s even the son of All in the Family’s Jean Stapleton, John Putch, before he would have small roles in several series, including playing Mordock the Benzite in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Putch plays Sean Brody, brother to Quaid’s Mike Brody, and they are the sons of Chief Brody from the original Jaws.  The Brodys find themselves again pursued by a giant shark, the latest some 35 feet long.

Jaws 3-D scream

Where Friday the 13th III in 3D is an example of over-the-top 3D effects that–absurd or not–you can still appreciate at least for its humor, Jaws 3-D reflects all that is bad about 3D.  The fundamental requirement of any movie, with or without special effects, is a good story.  This story doesn’t know what it wants to be.  At times it could be a poignant look at compassionate marine biologists caring about their animals and their work, with Armstrong and Quaid going about their jobs in a nice summer setting.   In a different genre years later this would be the backdrop for a movie like Summer Rental.  But a movie called Jaws requires chilling suspense.  Jaws 3-D doesn’t earn the title.

Were it merely a vehicle for three-dimensional whiz-bang action, this might have resulted in something like Friday the 13th III.  But the directorial choices are bad.  The images shown in 3D are superfluous to the plot.  The film sulks along and the only action comes about after an hour of the film has passed by.  As to story the movie doesn’t make sense even on paper.  A shark accused of killing people is finally caught, put on display at an aquarium, and then its mother sneaks into the park and torments the staff and guests until it breaks through the aquarium walls to get revenge on the facility manager (sounds like the movie Orca, right?).  Remember last year’s Syfy B-movie hit Sharknado?  Jaws 3-D is the original Sharknado, but without the necessary tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Star Wars Rebels scene

Review by C.J. Bunce

Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, the premiere one-hour movie for the coming animated series, aired last night on DisneyXD.  If the first hour is any indication, Star Wars Rebels will likely appeal to the entire demographic of anyone under 13 years old.  To that end, the premiere hour could be considered a success.  But as the first visual incarnation of Star Wars in the hands of Disney, is it enough for the generations of loyal Star Wars adult fans?

Star Wars Rebels is targeted at kids primarily through its focus on Ezra, a teenage thief solely defined by his own survival.  The unfortunately franchise-defining, stilted Star Wars dialogue and loud voice readings could only appeal to the younger set of “whiz-bang” aficionados.  It’s “very Disney” with its constantly fart-sound emitting R5-D4-inspired droid named Chop–Disney just can’t get away from a goofy little fringe character in any of its films.  The good part is that Ezra is a ringer for Disney’s Aladdin, and if you liked Aladdin there may be hope for this character for you.

We previewed the first novel in the New Universe under Disney here at borg.com a few weeks ago, Star Wars: A New Dawn.  It featured an interesting, well-written story and was a good introduction of two key characters in the new animated series, a Jedi named Kanan Jarrus (voiced in the series by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and his partner Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall), a green Twi’lek woman.  The difference is the novel had none of the goofy-for-kids elements.

Star Wars Ghost crew

Star Wars Rebels defines the challenges that stories of the New Universe will face.  What are the essential elements that make something Star Wars?  More importantly, what are the minimal elements required so this is not just another science fiction story with a Star Wars label?  The first hour of the animated universe bombards us with references back to people, places, ships, uniforms, and artifacts of the first two trilogies.  Can’t something new be done and yet remain completely of the Star Wars world?  Some of the camaraderie on the rebel vessel approached that of Firefly, particularly with the gruff Jayne-like character, Zeb (voiced by Steve Blum), the couple Kana and Hera a bit like Zoe and Wash, and young bomb expert Sabine (voiced by Tiya Sircar) is a bit of a combination of the engineering skill of Kaylee and the borderline sociopath River.  Have all the good sci-fi ideas been used up?

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Big Hero 6 poster

This week we get our introduction to animated Star Wars Disney-style with the premiere of the new series Star Wars Rebels.  Set your DVRs for this Friday, October 3, for the one-hour premiere, Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on the Disney Channel. The first series episode begins October 13 on DisneyXD.  The series features characters we previewed here at borg.com in our review of the first new universe Star Wars novel, A New Dawn.

Taking place between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a group of rebels takes on the Empire.  The series features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Taylor Gray, Tiya Sircar, and Steve Blum.

Those with access can get an early look at Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on September 26 at WATCHDisneyXD.com and on the WATCH DisneyXD app.

Spark of Rebellion
Coming in November is Disney’s full-length animated feature film, Big Hero 6.  Big Hero 6 follows the story of two Japanese brothers and a robot one creates that looks a bit like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
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Star Wars A New Dawn cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

How did the Empire power all those Star Destroyers anyway?

The new, Disney era of Star Wars story continuity begins today with the release of the novel Star Wars: A New Dawn.  Fans of the Star Wars tie-in novels shouldn’t be disappointed with this new story and completely new characters living in that galaxy, far, far away between the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  Its primary draw for those fans willing to give the new Star Wars a chance is the introduction of a trained Jedi named Kanan Jarrus and a mysterious Twi’lek named Hera.  But its best success is in author John Jackson Miller’s world building (or galaxy building)–one with more lead female characters than male.

In the galaxy that George Lucas built, the rarest creature to be found was a woman, whether a human, a rebel, an Imperial, or an alien.  Miller does not skip a beat to redefine Star Wars from chapter one.  We meet a black female captain of a Star Destroyer named Captain Rae Sloane, a character who could be on her way to be the next Mara Jade.  She’s young but smart, and exactly the kind of leader a government led by Emperor Palpatine would need to conquer so many systems.  Unlike even the original trilogy, including its often bumbling stormtroopers and officers that fail to follow their Dark Lord’s orders, the personnel building the Empire in A New Dawn don’t make the same mistakes.

Sloane works for a typical Star Wars villain, Count Demetrius Vidian, a cyborg like Darth Vader and General Grievous, which would lend us all to believe a defining piece of Star Wars is a dark cloaked bad guy who has already been blown apart a few times.  The word survivor does fit Vidian.  He is a decisive imperialist, precise, unyielding and villainous–everything you want from your Star Wars bad guy.

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Star Wars Rebels clip A

Earlier this week Disney announced the casting for Star Wars Episode VII.  Global highlights of this year’s “May the 4th” included Star Wars themed rugby matches in Australia, Star Wars 6K runs in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, character appearances in London, fan events in Shanghai, China and an event at the Roman Colosseum in Italy.  Through a collaboration with NASA and Space Center Houston a message from R2-D2 was delivered from International Space Station.

For the “May the 4th” worldwide Star Wars celebration Disney released its first full trailer for its new animated series Star Wars Rebels.  According to Disney the new trailer for the animated series was broadcast in more than 160 countries 439 million households worldwide.  Whether 439 million people saw it yesterday or whether it was just available to that many homes is not clear from the Disney release.

Star Wars Rebels stormtroopers

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Ezra Star Wars Rebels

The first previews are out for Star Wars: Rebels, a new Disney XD animated series due out in Fall 2014.  And the first images and clips, featuring new characters from the series, are exactly what I expected to see once Disney got hold of the Star Wars franchise.

It’s Star Wars, Aladdin style.

Not to knock Aladdin.  It was a fun Disney film as Disney films go.  But this is supposed to be Star Wars.  Where the animated series Clone Wars was accessible by an adult and child audience alike, Star Wars: Rebels seems to be a bit on the silly side, the kind of antics and humor you’d expect from those sidekicks in your average big-screen, animated Disney flick.  Unlikely to be targeted at the fan base, instead opting for new, younger viewers.  But why exclude the fan base?

Judge for yourself.  After the break, check out these first clips and images from Star Wars: Rebels:

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