A new Star Wars animated show has landed, created by LucasFilm golden boy Dave Filoni. The show is an anime-inspired tale that features ace pilots, spies and a light-hearted tone, something that initially made the already divided fanbase even more touchy. The first two trailers for the show saw a huge dislike ratio on YouTube and comments were less than enthusiastic. Now that the show is here, how does it fair?
Overall, pretty good actually. I’m a big fan of the other two animated shows, The Clone Wars and Rebels and this debut feels tighter than those two shows’ premieres. Nothing feels clunky and the animation is sharp and fluid. The tone is dramatically different from its predecessors, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Where the show stumbles is its lead. Like Ezra and Ahsoka before him, Kaz is difficult to watch sometimes. In fact, a few moments in the premiere made me think of Jar Jar! But Ezra and Ahsoka both grew to become some of the most beloved characters in the saga, so here’s hoping that when Kaz stars to mature, he’ll become a grounded and likeable character. Kaz is a New Republic pilot who wants to prove himself. Despite being a bit incompetent, he is a gifted pilot and gets to prove this to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in a battle against a Red, First Order Tie Interceptor.
Kaz is quickly recruited into Leia’s Resistance around six months prior to The Force Awakens. But it’s a bit silly as to how this happens. Think “accidental spy”. Kaz’s father is a New Republic senator and considers the Resistance to be a band of extremists spreading fear about the mythical First Order (being set prior to TFA, they’re still in hiding). In an act of rebellion against his father, Kaz joins and is flown to the remote planet Castilon to work at the refuelling station Colossus. This massive station, which is housed over an ocean, is full of the usual scum and villainy of the cantina sort and it doesn’t take the bumbling Kaz long to accidentally cause trouble. I get that this show is mainly targeted for a younger demographic, but Kaz and all his awkwardness can be hard to take in at times. But despite being clumsy, there’s no doubt that he is a talented pilot and his racing scene towards the end of the episode proved to be most exhilarating.
This is made possible thanks to the animation style. While initially a point of criticism, the bright cell shaded style allows it to differ from its predecessors and bring this new world to life. The makeshift ships that get to race on Colossus are wonderfully designed and the animation and camera angles showcase the speed and thrill of piloting these unreliable yet speedy vehicles. As they pass through suspended rings, you can actually feel how dangerous the race is and how precise the flying has to be. It’s great stuff. Helping this is also the sound design, which features plenty of Star Wars sounds that make this series feel 100% part of the universe. Despite being set in the Sequel Trilogy era, Castilon is a pretty run down backwater planet and thus, a lot of its technology is old, broken and dated. We see old droids (including prequel era Pit Droids), older alien species like Sullustans and a rundown environment that’s more in line with the mise-en-scene of the original films, which should please fans. There’s definitely a “cantina” vibe about the whole place and having it be inhabited by a group of ace pilots is a fun and great change of pace from the war effort we’ve seen a lot of lately.
Helping Kaz are his teammates, who include Neeku, an alien who takes hilariously everything literally, and Jarek, a former Rebel who proves to be the most interesting character on the show thus far. He doesn’t want any part of Poe’s mission and seems to be hiding out on the crime-ridden station. Why is he here and how does he know Poe remains a secret for now, but his character is the most compelling and the performance by Scott Lawrence really sells the character.
Interestingly, the show is titled “Resistance” but this really doesn’t feel like a show about the Resistance at all, at least not at this point in time. Rather, it feels like a podracing show. Heck, it even uses some of the sound effects from the famous Podracing scene in Phantom Menace and Greg Proops (who voiced the alien commentator during the scene) lends his voice to the commentating in this episode. Kaz is looking for a First Order spy on the station and while that will likely come into play later, the larger galactic conflict remains a different entity for now. The episode ends with the red stormtrooper, Major Vonreg, returning to an unfinished Starkiller Base, notifying Captain Phasma (who will be played by Gwendoline Christie again) of his return.
All in all, the show is no way the disaster everyone seemed to think it would be. It’s fun, light-maybe a bit too silly-but it’s wonderfully animated and it has a real sense of place and character. Will it live up to Rebels and Clone Wars? Too early to say, but I’ll check out the other episodes for now as I’m curious. Rebels episode 1 was way rougher than this and look how that turned out. Here’s hoping Resistance continues to aim for the stars.
What did you think of Resistance? Was it better than you thought or have you officially tuned out? Let us know and be sure to check out our other Star Wars related topics, including our theory about who the Mandalorian is and the top moments in Star Wars animation thus far.
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