So here we are, at the start of a new Star Wars TV series. This first episode (movie?), "Spark of Rebellion," isn't necessarily ground-breaking, but it kicks off Rebels with a pretty good start.
"Spark of Rebellion" is lots of fun, and lays the groundwork well for the characters and story. That being said, that's almost all it does. It understandably spends a lot of time introducing all the characters and setting the tone for the show. It's a fun ride, but it does definitely feel like the "spark" for what's to come later.
The music is one big standout in this show. Whereas The Clone Wars almost never used the classic John Williams themes, Rebels uses them all over the place—some might say even too much. But then again, it's probably better to have recognizable, good Star Wars music than not, so I'm not complaining.
Ezra Bridger is an interesting protagonist. Most viewers of the Original Trilogy found themselves relating to the naive Luke, but more cynical viewers could relate well to the world-weary Han. In Rebels, Ezra acts like somewhat of a combination of the two: naive and good-hearted, but often also trickster-like and self-serving. And just like Han and Luke, he finds himself in a group of rebels fighting the Empire. Ezra is just barely on this side of likable, which is good. He's certainly off to a better start than Ahsoka was in the Clone Wars movie. It's curious that they're introducing not one but two Force-users (three? four?) into Rebels already, but we'll have to see how it plays out.
The rest of the characters don't get much chance to shine, aside from Kanan. And even he seems to be somewhat of a mystery. We basically learn that he's a former Jedi and... that's it. Kanan is the former Jedi-now-turned-freedom-fighter. Zeb is the gruff muscle guy. Hera is the pilot and moral center of the team. Sabine is the explosives expert with cool armor. Chopper is a mean astromech droid. It'll be cool to see how the crew develops, but for now, they're just kinda there.
There's even less to say about the villains. Agent Kallus is a competent but generic Imperial officer so far, and we don't even really meet the Inquisitor yet. Darth Vader shows up via hologram in the extended cut of the episode, which is somewhat unnecessary aside from one interesting detail: Vader says that the Emperor wants Force-sensitive children killed only if they can't be used as weapons. It was assumed before that the Empire wiped out all the Jedi indiscriminately, but the idea that the Empire was also using Force-sensitives as tools (like the Inquisitor himself?) is a whole new wrinkle. It's not that dissimilar to Mara Jade's role as the Emperor's Hand in the Expanded Universe, but this is the new canon.
At the end of the day, "Spark of Rebellion" is a fun start, but it'll be great to actually get into the meat of the story later on.
"Spark of Rebellion" on StarWars.com