What we're watching: 'Star Wars Rebels' and Marvel's 'Runaways'

What we're watching: 'Star Wars Rebels' and Marvel's 'Runaways'
From Engadget - February 10, 2018

Star Wars Rebels

I loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This is somehow a controversial statement, but I did. I adore it enough that I have seen it three times now, and on every viewing I have found that my appreciation of the film grew a bit more as I noticed things I had not before or I better saw how everything fits together. It's also rekindled my love of Star Wars, which is why I finally sat down and gave Star Wars Rebels another chance.

I liked Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but I found its successor a bit harder to love. The art style does not thrill me, and I was not too happy about retreading familiar ground, especially with the Jedi. I watched the first season, but since then the episodes have been piling up on my DVR. Over the holidays I ended up watching a lot of stuff I'd been putting off, so I looked at those two seasons' worth of Rebels and thought, Maybe it's time.

The show really found its stride in its second season, fleshing out the backstories and relationships of Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Sabine, Zeb and even the droid, Chopper. It delves further into Star Wars lore and brings in iconic characters like Darth Vader and Princess Leia, as well as fan favorites from The Clone Wars like Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. It even has Grand Admiral Thrawn, from the Expanded Universe novels! But I think the greatest thing the show does is teach us about the origins of the Rebellion.

When we first see the Rebel Alliance onscreen in A New Hope, it's already a full-fledged military force with ships, personnel and a base that needs protecting. The Galactic Empire may vastly outnumber the Rebellion galaxy-wide, but in each individual conflict, it always feels like the Rebels have a chance. The fights never feel lopsided or desperate. When we first meet the Resistance in The Force Awakens, it feels the same: These people have the resources to fight the First Order. But things change by the end of that movie, and by the start of The Last Jedi things have taken a big turn. The Resistance is struggling to hold on to what little it has. It just wants to survive to fight another day. It's hard to watch. It's depressing.

By the end of The Last Jedi, we do not know how the Resistance will bounce back, but Rebels actually holds a big clue. The series revolves around a small group of people struggling in their own small way against the vast Empire. A lot of what they do is about tiny victories and just trying to make it to tomorrow. But as the show progresses, we find out they are not alone. There are other groups out there that want a better future, one that does not involve the Imperials. So these different forces and crews come together to form something bigger. Now our heroes are going on missions that are not just about themselves. They are serving a higher purpose in building a military organization that we, the viewers, know will someday challenge the Galactic Empire and win.

Marvel's Runaways

A few of Marvel's latest TV shows, at least the ones on Netflix, have not been nearly as good as the first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Sure, The Punisher is solid (and, as expected, superviolent), but Iron Fist was awful, and just having to put up with Danny Rand made The Defenders a chore. Enter Runaways, Hulu's team-up with Marvel and a welcome breath of fresh air for fans of the comic-based television series.

Let me make a caveat from the jump: The acting on this show is pretty bad in parts. However, the story is good enough to overcome the overacting from a lot of the characters. The writers did not waste any time with introductions either. The first episode introduces the main conflict -- a group of kids trying to figure out if their parents are a group of murderers -- and builds suspense quickly. After the first episode, I was hooked. That's quite different from some of the other Marvel shows that took a few episodes to get going.



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