Lens flare nonsense aside, I don't blame J.J. Abrams too much. He likes to build up his mysteries to a ridiculous degree, but I'm mostly okay with that. And Disney, well I'll get to that.
It's not the lack of Lucas that has me apathetic, that's for sure. In fact, I think it's probably a reaction to just how bad the prequel stories were than I can't find myself caring about Episode VII.
I was largely ready to give up on Star Wars altogether.
Then I came across "Star Wars: Rebels".
An animated offering in the manner of the animated "Clone Wars" saga, "Rebels" is a Disney offering that means to bridge the gap between the abomination that was Episode III and the glory of Episode IV.
While "Clone Wars" gave depth and characterization to the travesties that were Episodes II and IIII, "Rebels" truly gives a fantastic picture of an established Galactic Empire slowly delivering a stranglehold on the galaxy.
It's not without its tropes, mind you. "Rebels" stars a rag-tag crew of misfits in a Millennium Falcon knockoff ship called Ghost that's more space pirate than anything.
The story centers around six characters in the crew:
- Ezra Bridger - our obligatory rising hero/teenager of a Disney-vein. He has the Force and the potential to become a powerful Jedi (making the whole Luke Skywalker story all the more into a bitter lie). Living on the streets since he was 7, he's the son of parents who spoke out against the Empire and disappeared. He is armed with an energy slingshot and a smart-ass attitude. Yet for all that, not nearly as annoying as one might expect.
- Kanan Jarrus - a Jedi who escaped Order 66 as a Padawan, Kanan looks like a bounty hunter with his shoulder-and-arm armor. He sports a pony-tail, a blaster, and a lightsaber that's made of two parts to conceal better. He's part Han Solo, part Obi-Wan, and part what Anakin Skywalker should have been if he weren't such a whiny shit. He's the leader of the rebel team.
- Hera Syndulla - a Twi'lek (tentacle-head person) and captain as well as owner of the Ghost. She's effectively the center of the team and the voice of reason. She and Kanan seem to have a little thing going on. She also knows about other rebel cells.
- Sabine Wren - a Mandalorian (think a female Boba Fett) with an artistic manner that expresses in bright colors (both on her armor and in her "tagging" efforts) and in bright explosions. Definitely a fanboy fantasy made real, but she works out surprisingly-well and is an excellent character. Also serves as the tolerant object of Ezra's puppy-dog crush. Poor lad.
- Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios - A Lasat, part of a race made nearly-extinct by the Empire due to an early failed uprising. Apparently Zeb is modeled on the early character sketches of Chewbacca, which I find interesting. More interesting than his faux-Aussie accent.
- C1-10P (aka "Chopper") - based on the early art for R2-D2, he's a temperamental droid made up of spare parts and attitude.
I've just burned through season one and I have to say "Rebels" was far and above better - story-wise - than the entirety of the prequels. Great stuff. I highly-recommend it for Star Wars fans.