5 Most Memorable Moments From ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Finale Mural

‘Star Wars Rebels’ is a worthy addition to the Star Wars Universe [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

It wasn’t love at first sight. When Star Wars Rebels premiered in 2014, it took a while to warm up to the animated series and its motley crew of characters which includes a rogue Jedi who did not quite complete his training and a Force-sensitive kid who was not very endearing from the word go. Plus the fact that you just cannot but compare it to the just-ended and much superior Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014; Season 7 will debut in 2019).

Thankfully, Star Wars Rebels slowly grew from strength to strength. Not only did its core characters became more compelling, the series also produced numerous intriguing story arcs (all canon) that, most often than not, are linked to beloved characters and fan favorites from the original trilogy, the prequels, Rogue One, and, yes, The Clone Wars.

With the recent release of Star Wars Rebels Season 4 on Blu-ray and DVD, here’s a look-back at five of the most memorable moments from all four seasons.

5. Darth Vader Cometh

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Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 2 premiere [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

The Dark Lord’s appearance in the Season 2 premiere, “The Siege of Lothal”, shows just how scary and ruthless this iconic villain is, even in cartoon form. That we were absolutely terrified for Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger’s lives when they take on Darth Vader two-to-one – to be fair, they didn’t know who or what he was then – is an understatement. Equally memorable was the look of horror on Ahsoka Tano’s face when she, using her Force sensitivity on board the Ghost, discovers that the dude terrorizing her associates is none other than her former Master, Anakin Skywalker, who also senses her presence as he coldly murmurs, “The apprentice lives…” Shudder.

4. Sabine’s Darksaber Training

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Sabine trains with Kanan in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 3 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

Kanan training Sabine Wren on how to use the Darksaber in Season 3 Episode 15, “Trials of the Darksaber”, is one of the most well-written sequences in Star Wars Rebels. Not only do we get to see how the now-blind Kanan has grown to be a more confident and matured teacher/mentor, it also reveals Sabine’s heartache of being long shunned by her own family and Mandalorian people for designing the very weapons that the Empire used against their home planet. Their fierce sparring is also one of the coolest lightsaber duels ever seen on screen.

Read also:
* How ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Expanded George Lucas’s Lightsaber Mythology for the Darksaber

3. A Whole New World

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Ezra rescues Ahsoka from the past in ‘A World Between Worlds’ in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

Time travel (a first in Star Wars), a whole new world and Ahsoka lives! In Season 4 Episode 13, “A World Between Worlds”, Ezra finds a cosmic space behind an ancient painting in the Lothal Jedi Temple where he can hear voices including that of Yoda, Obi-wan Kenobi and Princess Leia, as well as many portals to the past. After rescuing Ahsoka from being finished off by Darth Vader in their duel (depicted in Season 2’s finale), the young Jedi wanted to rescue Kanan from dying (three episodes earlier, see #1 below), only to be reminded by Ahsoka that saving Kanan means the rest of the Ghost crew dies. Which leaves us to cry along with Ezra as we watch his Master’s demise yet again in the flashback…

2. Duel Of The Fates Part 2
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Long before Solo: A Star Wars StoryStar Wars Rebels fans knew former Sith Lord (Darth) Maul was alive and well. Well, up until he met up with his old adversary Obi-wan in Season 3 Episode 20, “Twin Suns.” Swearing vengeance on the Jedi Master since The Clone Wars, the much anticipated duel between the two end literally in a blink of an eye. If that wasn’t artful enough, Obi-wan holding Maul in his arms compassionately as the latter lays dying – inquiring with his last breath if the one who the old Jedi is protecting is “the chosen one” – was another memorable moment.

1. Kanan’s Last Hurrah

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Kanan’s a hero till the end in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

As it was long informed by series creator Dave Filoni that Star Wars Rebels’ final season will lead up to events depicted in Rogue One (2016), we kinda know Kanan, being a Jedi, won’t make it out of the series alive. Still, it was heartwrenching to see him sacrificing himself, even if he did go out in a blaze of glory, saving the people he loves in Season 4 Episode 10, “Jedi Night.”  Kanan Force-pushing Hera away to prevent her from stopping him – with his eyes seemingly becoming clear – was equally heartbreaking as the two have just openly declared their love for each other. Haiz.

Which is your favorite moment in Star Wars Rebels? Let me know in the comments below!

Read also:
Hope, There Is: 5 Highlights From ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Series Finale
Rebel Heart: Mon Mothma Finally Rallies the Troops on ‘Star Wars Rebels’
* 4 ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Easter Eggs in ‘Rogue One’
The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

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‘Mary & The Witch’s Flower’ Will Delight Studio Ghibli Fans

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‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ [Credit: Studio Ponoc/GKIDS]

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is an enchanting animated feature that has all the trademark characteristics of a Studio Ghibli film – from lovable cherubic characters to the coming-of-age narrative, magical transformations to a stirring musical score. Except it is not by Studio Ghibli.

That another Japanese animation studio could produce a film so Ghibli-like was hardly surprising once you find out who the creative people behind it are. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the debut film of Studio Ponoc, founded by former Ghibli animator and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) and directed by another ex-Ghibli animator and director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There fame.

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Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children fantasy novel, The Little BroomstickMary and the Witch’s Flower tells the story of young red-haired Mary Smith who lives with her great-aunt Charlotte in the quaint British town of Redmanor. One day, she came across a mysterious flower known as Fly-by-night, or the Witch’s Flower, that blooms only once every seven years.

Mary soon finds herself embarking on a wild adventure as eccentric characters try to seize the one-night-only witching powers that she received from the magical flower. Even as she cherishes the opportunity to escape from her mundane lifestyle, Mary also learns that with power comes the responsibility to save and protect those you love.

Ghibli fans will love Mary and the Witch’s Flower as it has all the qualities of a lush, magical Ghibli film. In fact, the film pays much homage to past Studio Ghibli classics as well as other popular fantasy films that fans of the genre would recognize in an instant.

For the list of the major shout-outs, click the link below:
* 6 Great Fantasy Films That Studio Ponoc’s ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Will Lovingly Remind You Of

Read also:
5 Things We Want to See in Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park in 2022
Studio Ghibli Sees First East-west Collaboration in the Wordless Wonder ‘The Red Turtle’

Artistic Wonders: Animated Prequels That Provide Insightful Back Stories To Shows Such As ‘Blade Runner 2049’ And ‘Train to Busan’

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‘Blade Runner Black Out 2022’ [Credit: Warner Bros]

Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford may not have been the box office hit that its producers and diehard fans hoped for, but it is still a remarkable film in more ways than one. For instance, it is a rare recent film that has not one but three short prequels commissioned to provide back stories to events that happened between Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, which took place in 2019, and Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, set 30 years later.

Directed by Luke Scott (son of Ridley), the first two prequels 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run provide background stories on the characters Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), both of whom featured in Blade Runner 2049. But it’s the third prequel, the animated short titled Blade Runner Black Out 2022, that created the most buzz.

An Animated Prequel: ‘Blade Runner Black Out 2022’

Set in Los Angeles three years after the original Blade Runner, the action-packed short tells of how after mobs of angry humans start killing replicants with natural life-spans. Two Nexus 8 replicants – military combat model Iggy and pleasure model Trixie – decide to fight back by creating a massive power outage that became known as the Great Blackout of 2022, “a darkness the humans have never seen.”

Brilliantly animated, the 15-minute prequel is written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. The clip also offers a few callbacks to the original Blade Runner, such as Trixie’s acrobatic skills – which is reminiscent of Daryl Hannah’s Pris – while LAPD blade runner Gaff is voiced by the original actor, Edward James Olmos.

However, Blade Runner 2049 is not the first cinematic production to have an animated prequel specifically made to provide a backstory for viewers. If you loved the concept. here are a few other fantastic animated prequels that may be of interest.

1. Snowpiercer (2013) Animated Prequel

Futuristic sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, directed by The Host’s Bong Joon Ho and starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, focuses on the last remnants of humanity seeking refuge as an apocalyptic earth experiences a new ice age.

Its 4-minute animated prequel was produced to explain how the world turned icy cold after a disastrous attempt to end global warming triggers an ice age instead. Violence arose among the human race as they fight each other to get on board the train that runs on a special engine. The feature film picks up years later when a class system has arisen on the Snowpiercer and a revolution is about to erupt between the lower and upper classes.

The stunning short uses 3D animation albeit with static human characters, yet fear and violence is effectively portrayed through the use of light, sound and special effects. Yona (Ko Asung) narrates the short in Korean, but thankfully there are English subtitles. Effective and well-animated, the prequel helps viewers understand the chaotic scenario featured at the start of Snowpiercer.

2. 47 Ronin (2013) – ‘The Way of the Warrior’

If you can accept Keanu Reeves as a half-Japanese, half-Caucasian samurai, 47 Ronin is actually quite straightforward. Still, the producers felt a prequel was necessary to explain the film’s mythical premise. Set in 18th Century feudal Japan, the 4-minute short relates the tale of 47 great samurai whose lives turned topsy turvy when their master was killed by an evil lord. Forced to become wandering ronin (masterless samurai), the band set out to restore their master’s honor by seeking out his killers, while tackling human and mythical dangers along the way.

Employing 2D animation with splashes of bold colors, The Way of the Warrior is like watching Japanese ink paintings come to life. The short film is worth watching for the chief samurai’s fight with a fire-breathing dragon alone.

3. Train to Busan (2016) – ‘Seoul Station’

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‘Seoul Station’ [Credit: Finecut]

Train to Busan, 2016’s zombies-on-a-train hit from South Korea, was one of Asia’s biggest success stories in 2016. This even allowed director Yeon Sang-ho, who’s known for his animated works such as The King of Pigs and The Fake, to commercially release another zombie-related film titled Seoul Station.

Unlike other animated prequels mentioned in this article, Seoul Station is a full-length feature. And though it is regarded as a prequel to Train to Busanits plotline is actually quite different from its live-action counterpart, the only similarity being that the zombie uprising starts at the Seoul’s central railway terminus. However, it does give a more concise idea of how the undead pandemic started.

Whether you’ve seen Train to Busan or not (and you should if you haven’t), Seoul Station is worth watching on its own accord. It is a social commentary in the guise of a horror flick, using the premise of a zombie pandemic to highlight contemporary social issues such as misogyny, homelessness and ruthless manhandling tactics by authorities.

4. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion – An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms (2017)

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‘Games of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion’ [Credit: HBO]

With Season 7 done and dusted and Season 8 still far on the horizon, HBO is doing all they can to keep Game of Thrones fans occupied in the meantime. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion is a storybook-style animated history special that tells of turbulent events that took place in and outside Westeros thousands of years before the TV series started.

Part one of the 45-minute special is “Valyria’s Last Scion: House Targaryen”. It tells of the Doom of Valyria, which sees Aegon Targaryen (not Jon Snow, but his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror) sailing across to Westeros with his two sister-wives and conquering all the lands that their three dragons could breathe fire on.

Richly animated and accompanied with the familiar score from TV series, the first chapter is narrated by Harry Lloyd, who played Daenerys Targaryen’s irksome brother Viserys on the show.

The rest of the chapters, which will likely cover events all the way to Robert’s Rebellion, will only be available on exclusive Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season DVD & Blu-ray™ sets (that carry the bonus disc) due out on December 12, 2017.

5. The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) – ‘The Animatrix’

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‘The Animatrix’ – “Final Flight of the Osiris” [Credit: Warner Home Video]

One of the earlier film franchises to produce animated prequels was the Wachowski’s ground-breaking Matrix trilogy. They weren’t the first to do so but they were certainly among the most ambitious. The Animatrix, conceived and overseen by the talented siblings, is a compilation of nine animated short films based on the Keanu Reeves-led sci-fi franchise.

The idea for the intensive animated project came about when the brothers were promoting The Matrix film in Japan and met up with anime creators who had influenced their work. The first of these shorts is the 10-minute “Final Flight of the Osiris,” a direct prequel to The Matrix Reloaded. Other shorts, such as “The Second Renaissance Part I and II,” tell of the rise of the machines and their ultimate war with man that led to the creation of the computer-generated virtual reality. Comprising different forms and styles of animation, each short film is a cinematic animated achievement in its own right.

Throughout the years, these animated prequels have served a great purpose for fans, as we eagerly seek out more information on our favorite fandoms.

From Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – the Animatrix of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy – to Star Wars‘s Forces of Destiny series (2017) and the Transformers franchise’s upcoming animated features, these creative prequels are definitely here to stay.

Which animated prequel do you know of that should be added to the above list? Drop me a note below.

2 Treats in 2017 for ‘Frozen’ Fans

frozen-cast                                               Till Frozen 2 comes along… (Credit: Disney)

Since its launch in 2013, Disney’s Frozen has become the highest-grossing animated feature of all-time, grossing more than $1.27 billion in box office sales worldwide. Yet, its much-anticipated sequel is seemingly still on ice (pun intended).

But a #Frozen2 there will be, as #Disney has officially confirmed it in early 2015, just that we are unlikely to see it before *gulp* 2019, as it was not included in the House of Mouse’s theatrical schedules for 2017 and 2018.

Of course, there was the 2015 short film, Frozen Fever, but let’s face it: That was just an appetizer (plus we were rather distracted by Queen Elsa’s bad cold and her mischievous snots, cute as they may be.)

frozen-2-elsa-snots                                                 Elsa’s snots in ‘Frozen Fever’ (Credit: Disney)

There was also the LEGO Frozen Northern Lights series of shorts on the Disney Channel, which featured building block versions of key characters Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven on a quest to restore the Northern Lights before they disappear from the kingdom of Arendelle’s sight. It’s a cute (and extremely corny) series, meant for very young kids, but it’s not quite like the real thing.

frozen_northern-lights                                               LEGO Frozen Northern Lights (Credit: Disney)

Till the eagerly-awaited sequel comes along, here are two things Frozen fans can look forward to in 2017:

1. OLAF’S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

frozen-olaf                           Olaf the adorable snowman gets his own special (Credit: Disney)

This Christmas, a Frozen TV special, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, is set to air on the ABC network in the US of A. Focus will be on the lovable snowman, with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven also set to return, including the original voice cast of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad. New songs can be expected too, woo-hoo!

2. ‘Frozen’ Goes to Broadway

frozen-broadway-musical-logo                                                                    (Credit: Disney)

There’s already Disney on Ice Presents Frozen, now meet Frozen — The Broadway Musical. The stage musical adaptation of the hit movie will take its bow at the St. James Theater in New York in Spring 2018. Prior to that, a two-month test run will take place at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in August 2017.

Much is expected from the musical, as it is written by the same Oscar-winning team behind the 2013 film — book by Jennifer Lee, screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck), and music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, responsible for the film’s brilliant songs including the stirring “Let It Go.”

The cast has yet to be confirmed, but just for the fun of it, which current pop star do you think is best to play either Elsa or Anna? For instance, Dove Cameron, who was impressive playing Amber in Hairspray Live!, could make a nice Elsa. Let me know in a comment below!

For what we can expect to see in Frozen 2, check out my original article, “7 Things Frozen Fans can look forward to in 2017 and Beyond” at this link: https://creators.co/@margueritatan/4180312

For my other pop culture features on movies (eg King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and TV shows (eg, The Young Pope), click this link:
https://creators.co/@margueritatan

Obi-Wan Kenobi returns in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Mid-Season Trailer

Fans of #StarWarsRebels were already elated when no less than 4 Easter Eggs that made references to the #Disney animated series appeared in the blockbuster, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

And now, with the release of Season 3’s mid-season trailer, more joy is in store as it is officially certain that Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi will be (re)appearing in the series to take on his adversary from Star Wars Episode 1: the Phantom Menace (1999), Darth Maul (or just Maul, as the ex-Sith is known on Rebels).

Watch the trailer here:

Cool, aint it? Complete with Obi-wan’s trademark opening strike stance at that (pictured below). Till now, Anakin Skywalker’s mentor was mainly seen as a hologram on a holocron, sounding a warning to any member of the Rebellion who would listen.

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Obi-wan Kenobi is ready for Maul (Credit: Disney)

Other than the fact that it is arguably the most exciting trailer for an animated series to come along for some time, here are 5 other exciting tidbits – just to name a few – of what we can expect from the rest of Season 3:

1. Loads of #RogueOne connections such as Death Troopers 
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Grand Admiral Thrawn flanked by Death Troopers (Credit: Disney)

2. Rebellion leader Mon Mothma’s first appearance on Rebels – and could that be Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna in Rogue One) sitting behind on her right?

3. Sabine meeting her Mandalorian warrior mother with the darksaber (previously owned by one Darth Maul) in hand
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Sabine with the darksaber (Credit: Disney)

4. Grand Admiral Thrawn exhibiting some serious kung-fu moves. Not as stoic and rigid as we thought he was…

5. Freedom fighter Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One) making his much-anticipated appearance. The character previously appeared in The Clone Wars.
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Saw Gerrera will be voiced by Forest Whitaker in ‘Star Wars Rebels’  (Credit: Disney)

For every Rebels fan, these are great stuff to look forward to. Especially it is a clear indication that Rebels will soon be leading into Rogue One territory, tying up loose ends hopefully, which would only make the Star Wars Extended Universe that much more enjoyable.

See also my other Star Wars-related articles below:
Hope, There Is: 5 Highlights From ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Series Finale
* 4 Star Wars Rebels Easter Eggs in Rogue One
Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra – What We Know of the Enigmatic Character in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’
* Princess Leia’s 10 Most Iconic Quotes from Star Wars

 

Easter Minion Mugshot

img_20160327_162750.jpg(Image by Marguerita Tan)

Mugshot!

Easter Present to Meself from Melbourne – A Minion Ceramic Mug with Australian-made Milk Chocolate Egg…

Happy Easter Everyone!

Star Wars Rebels 2 – The Dark Side Cometh

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Star Wars Rebels Season 2
returns in October and I’m seriously looking forward to it. Must confess that it took me a long while to warm up to the motley crew of the starship Ghost. Granted there was a lot of backgrounding stories that need to be told, yet still there’s something about everyone – bar Hera, the matured, wise-cracking pilot – that irks me and it was very hard-pressed to have warm feelings for any of the key characters.

“BACK THEN, THERE WERE 10,000 JEDI KNIGHTS…
NOW, THERE’S JUST YOU AND ME…”

The animated series, which runs on Disney X D, however eventually got better and much more engaging towards the end of the debut season, especially from the episodes where renegade Jedi Kanan Jarrus finally acceded that he – the last of the Jedis – simply have to teach wayward teen Ezra the ways of the Force properly ‘cos, well, since the Force is indeed “strong” with the lad. The storyline by then was also strengthened by the appearing of Star Wars characters who have more, for want of a better word, “backbone”. First it was Master Yoda, or rather, his voice of reason, when he gently lectured Kanan at the Jedi Temple on Lothal in the episode, “Path of the Jedi”. The other is one of the cool characters from the previous and really good Star Wars animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars – fan favourite Ahsoka Tato, the former Jedi Padawan of one Anakin Skywalker…

                                                                                  ***possible spoilers ahead***

“HUNT THE REBELS DOWN…”
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Ahsoka, who appeared in the last episode of season 1 (“Fire Across The Galaxy”), kinda gave a new hope (pardon the pun) that Star Wars Rebels Season 2 is not only going to bring the excitement up a few notches, it will also tie the series closer to classic Star Wars roots. And my oh my, judging by the 1-hr premiere  episode, Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal (which was first telecast in the US in June, premiering in Asia in October) with the mind-blowing appearance of the Father of all Space Villains himself, SWR2 is already off to a great start! I mean, let’s face it, even in animated form, Darth Vader is seriously one intimidating dude. In TSOL, after The Inquisitor’s mission failure, the Sith Lord is assigned by Grand Moff Tarkin, Commander of the Outer Rim Territories, to hunt the rebels down and needless to say, Vader’s not the kind to take any prisoner alive…

“THE FEAR, THE ANGER, THE HATE…”
Star-Wars-Rebels-Season-Two-Darth n JedisIf Kanan and Ezra thought the Inquisitor was a handful, they ain’t seen nothing yet. One of the most hair-raising sequences in TSOL is when the not fully-trained Jedi and his not-quite-there-either apprentice come face-to-face with the Sith Lord himself on Lothal, after the duo and their team tried to rescue Minister Maketh Tua (of the Imperial Security Bureau) who had sought the rebels’ help to deflect from the Empire. Cue the Lightsabers!

“THE APPRENTICE LIVES…”
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Also in this episode, the Force seems to be strong in a good many people. But for the ones that matter, namely Kanan and Ezra, they just want to know who the scary dude in black is. This is where Ahsoka comes in… On board the Ghost ship with Hera as they fight alongside the Phoenix Squadron against the Empire, Ahsoka tries to use the Force to identify the Sith Lord who had terrified the lads, only to get chills down her spine when an all-too-familiar voice (albeit with a much deeper tone) senses her presence just as easily…

2015-08-17 18.33.30 (800x427)If you haven’t watched Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal, the hour-long movie will premiere on Disney X D on Sat October 3 at 8am (Singapore time). If you have, it’s worth a second viewing I’m sure you will agree. The rest of Season 2 should follow suit every Saturday thereafter. (And look out for the Star Wars Lego short films, Star Wars Chronicles: Droid Tales on weekends as well – they are brilliant and downright hilarious!)

You can also enact fun adventures with the Star Wars Rebels – and other Star Wars heroes – in the Disney console game, Disney Infinity 3.0 (see https://musingsonthem49.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/star-wars-hyperspeeds-into-disney-infinity-3-0-and-beyond/).

Meanwhile, here’s the trailer for SWR2:

May the Force be with You.