Friday 22 February 2019

Star Wars Resistance is nostalgic galactic bubblegum

Disney has renewed Star Wars Resistance and Nick Smith takes a look at the inaugural season to see whether or not it rises to the legacy of The Clone Wars and most recently Star Wars Rebels?

Guest post by Nick Smith

A bird wheels across the sky, the elegant sound of its beating wings drowned by the sound of a mightier flying thing – a First Order TIE fighter, patrolling the beleaguered refuelling platform Colossus on the remote world of Castilon.

Under this sky works a tight-knit crew of pilots and mechanics led by Jarek Yeager, owner of a repair shop on the platform. His likeable team includes Tam, Neeku and Bucket the cobbled-up droid. They live a life of seat-of-the-pants racing in this Disney cartoon with a Miyazaki-lite look and heaps of charm thanks to the impulse drive of Dave Filoni, director of The Clone Wars animated feature alongside other Star Wars adventures including Star Wars Rebels and Forces of Destiny.

Like Clone Wars, Resistance fills a gap in the Star Wars saga, this time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It’s set about six months before Finn meets Rey. The main character is Kazuda Xiono (AKA Kaz, played by Chris Sean), a bumbling young pilot whose goofiness is matched by his idealism. He wants to become a part of the Resistance against the fascist First Order, so when he’s recruited by Poe Dameron he hyperjumps at the chance to be a rebel spy.

Look beyond the simple CGI animation and trite plots and you’ll find a fun adventure series that is better at being silly (the too-literal Neeku, Kaz’s good-natured gawkiness) than space operatics. The thrills of Star Wars’ best movie moments aren't there but in their place are solid, dependable characters and situations that are surprisingly watchable. It’s galactic bubblegum with a nostalgic flavor – the TIE fighters, blaster battles and splintered echoes of the movies: in The New Trooper, Kaz has umm… communication problems as he disguises himself as a Stormtrooper; in the next episode, The Core Problem, Poe feels like he’s being watched a la Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

Kaz has the most fleshed-out character. He is not a perfect hero. He gets scared, makes mistakes and breaks rules. He has an arc ripe for development. Other characters, like the teenaged Torra Doza, exist to further plots, such as her attempted kidnap in The Doza Dilemma. The green (in more ways than one) Neeku is kept around for comic relief. Captain Phasma (voiced by original actress Gwendoline Christie) cameos because she’s cool, but doesn’t present much of a threat. It’s always good to see Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who provides a laconic role model for Kaz; the most poignant appearance is made by Leia Organa (Carolyn Hennessy), who has some witty dialogue with Poe.

Kaz’s picaresque adventures include banter with BB-8, dogfights, a friendship with a turncoat space pirate, video gameplay, and a hilarious encounter with a salacious horde of Kowakian monkey-lizards. Kaz’s secret missions with Poe make the strongest episodes, heralding more Trilogy-type epics ahead.

As you might have guessed, the emphasis is on lighthearted entertainment. Look for cosmic complexity and you’ll be disappointed. My advice is to sit back, enjoy the Stormtrooper slapstick and join Kaz on his Outer Rim joyride. Who knows where it might lead?

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