A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion is an action-packed movie that precedes the animated series Star Wars Rebels. The plot fits between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope in the grand Star Wars time line, but because all the central characters are new, your enjoyment of the story isn't contingent upon having seen the live-action movies. True to form, there's a fair amount of fighting here (mostly with blasters and various weapons that transmit electricity; to a lesser degree, a lightsaber), and some people involved are killed. The heroes are in constant peril, but they never let that keep them from doing what's right and helping others in need. When they break rules, it's for good reason, and they're motivated by selflessness and a strong sense of justice. This quality offering from Disney and Lucasfilm will be a hit with many kids' sense of adventure, but it's also well-designed to entice viewers to return for the follow-up TV series.
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What's the story?
STAR WARS REBELS: SPARK OF REBELLION is set between live-action movies Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and centers on Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), a solitary orphan who lives on the streets of the Empire-controlled Capital City, sticky-fingering his way to a meager existence. All that changes when he intercepts a robbery already in progress and makes off with part of an empirical shipment that marks him as a target for Storm Troopers and a mysterious ragtag group of freedom fighters, who eventually take him in. But fitting in with Hera (Vanessa Marshall), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), and Zeb (Steve Blum) is no easy task, even for this smooth talker. As he joins them on rebel missions across the galaxy, Ezra learns about the Empire's recent purging of the Jedi that nearly cost the rebels' leader, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), his life, and begins to feel a strong connection to the Force himself.
Is it any good?
This action-packed movie serves as a pilot for the Disney series Star Wars Rebels and introduces an entirely new team of self-deprecating heroes to appreciative fans. Those who know the live-action movies' progression will appreciate the careful touches of imagery and sound that fit neatly between episodes 3 and 4, no doubt thanks to Lucasfilm's involvement in the project. The story sets just enough context -- including a cameo by Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) -- to satisfy the purists before launching into its own uniquely enticing plot.
Although the graphics' tendency to create slightly odd body forms and features leaves a little to be desired, Spark of Rebellion rarely falls short in any other regard. The story moves quickly enough to pack a lot of plot into its 43-minute block, and there's plenty of action to satisfy young adventurers in the audience. There's also a surprising depth to many of the characters, particularly Ezra and Kanan, and the fact that their personal stories are merely hinted at in the movie bodes well for interest in the follow-up series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about right and wrong. Kids: Who gets to decide the difference between right and wrong? Do laws always make that distinction clear? Is it ever OK to break the law? If so, what sort of circumstances might make that OK?
Are Ezra and Kanan positive role models? In what ways? How does each use the challenges of his past to inspire what he does now?
Why is the Star Wars franchise so popular among fans? Is its story of good vs. evil any different from others you see on TV shows and in movies? If you've seen other offerings in this franchise, how does this one compare?
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