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Originally intended to be a one-hour special, Disney announced that it was re-branded into a movie in February of 2014. The movie and series take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, in which the Galactic Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape.
Fourteen years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi and the Republic have fallen with the rise of the Galactic Empire. However the Emperor has foreseen a new threat rising against him: The Children of the Force. Fear of them becoming Jedi, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader has tasked the Empire's Inquisitor to hunt down this new enemy and eliminate them along with any surviving Jedi who will attempt to train them. Among these children who are one with the Force is an orphan boy named Ezra Bridger who lives on the planet Lothal.
One day in the Capital City, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint are harassing a local merchant to show his identification. When the merchant openly expresses his disagreement with the Empire, saying that the Imperials ruined Lothal and the rest of the galaxy, Aresko places him under arrest for treason. Ezra casually bumps into the imperials and swipes Aresko's communicator, which he uses to impersonate as an Imperial officer and lure Aresko and Grint towards a supposed emergency in the city's main square. The merchant is thankful for Ezra's help, and Ezra helps himself to some jogan fruits so he can have something to eat.
Ezra climbs onto the rooftops where he finds his way towards the square and overlooks Aresko and Grint, who learn that there was no emergency after all. While watching the Imperials, Ezra unknowingly through the force sense the presence of Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi Padawan who survived the destruction of the Jedi Order. He stays hidden as he watches him and two others known as Garazeb Orrelios, a Lasat and Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian, attack and steal a small supply of Imperial crates. But most their stolen goods get stolen by Ezra who jumps onto a speeder and speeds away through the streets with Kanan and Zeb in pursuit. The chase leads to a roadway outside the city, where Ezra and the two rebels are spotted and chased by Imperial troops. The rebels fight off the troops and Kanan intercepts Ezra. However before Kanan can regain possession of the crates, a TIE Fighter fires on their position, destroying his speeder. Ezra continues to speed back towards his tower with the TIE Fighter on his tail. The Fighter fires on him and destroys his speeder, leaving Ezra defenseless until the Fighter is shot down by a ship known as the Ghost. The Rebels help him aboard with the crate he stole and head for space with additional TIE fighters in pursuit.
Kanan makes his way to the cockpit, where the Twi'lek Hera Syndulla is piloting the ship. While explaining what happened, Zeb and Sabine keep on Ezra and after making a complaint about Zeb's smell, he throws Ezra into a small, closet-sized room, but manages to escape through air vent and makes his way through the bowels of the ship. Hera, meanwhile, is impressed by what she's heard from Kanan, and thinks Ezra could be useful member of the crew which Jarrus, at first, disagrees with. Ezra falls through the ventilation shafts and into one of the ship's gun turrets, where he realizes that for the first time in his life he is in space, and in a battle. Kanan and Sabine man the two gun turrets, and hold off the TIE Fighters, giving Hera a chance to jump the Ghost into hyperspace.
Back on Lothal, the incident has brought the attention of ISB Agent Kallus who is not at all surprised as this is not the first time the Empire's operations have been attacked by these Rebels. He explains to Aresko when their operations are targeted in a ongoing basis it could signify the start of a full-scale rebellion against the Empire. Kallus intends to find these Rebels and ensure that the spark of rebellion doesn't get the possible chance to spread.
The Rebels return from hyperspace and with the use of the Ghost's ability scramble its signal, they safely land on Lothal, near a small town known as Tarkintown, named after Grand Moff Tarkin and homed to many farmers who had their farmlands taken away by the Empire. While Zeb, Sabine and Ezra deliver the food they stole for the locals, Kanan and Hera deliver the blasters to criminal-lord Cikatro Vizago who gives them some information on Wookiee prisoners who were enslaved by the Empire. Ezra returns to the Ghost where through the force, finds his way to Kanan's quarters where he discovers a Holocron and a Lightsaber. Kanan and Hera catch him with the weapon, having been alerted Chopper. Ezra hands over the lightsaber but Kanan allows him keep the holocron, knowing that if he can open it, then the boy can use the Force and could be trained as a Jedi.
After leaving Kanan's quaters, Ezra meets up with Sabine where she tells him about their crew and how they came together after losing everything to the Empire. Just then Zeb interrupts their conversation to tell Sabine that Kanan wants them all for a meeting and leaves Chopper to watch Ezra. In the common room, Kanan briefs the crew on their next mission to rescue a group of Wookiee prisoners who are being transported to a unknown slave labor camp.
The Rebels come out of hyperspace where they meet up with the Imperial Transport Ship carrying the wookiees. Hera contacts the transport saying they have an additional Wookiee prisoner to hand over orders from Governor Tarkin. The commander of the transport allows them to dock and Kanan and Sabine board the ship with Zeb pretending to be a "Hairless Wookiee". Unfortunately the Imperials don't buy it, only because Zeb didn't give them a chance and took out two Stormtroopers with a single punch against their helmets. Once aboard, the Rebels begin their search for the Wookiees but begin to notice that the whole thing appears too easy. The security aboard the ship is soft and there are no sign of any more troopers. Suddenly an Imperial Star Destroyer drops out of hyperspace and catches both the transport and the Ghost in its docking bay, springing a trap set by Agent Kallus to capture the Rebels. Knowing the others are in danger, Hera tells Ezra to board the transport and warn them. At first Ezra refuses to risk his life for others but with some engouregment, he boards the transport just in time to warn Kanan and Zeb as Agent Kallus and a squadron of Stormtroopers come aboard. They make a run for it back to the Ghost and manage to escape but, thanks to Zeb, Ezra is captured by Agent Kallus and left behind.
While imprisoned on the Star Destroyer, Ezra is stripped of his gear with only the Holocron he stole from Kanan's quarters. Through the force he unexpectedly opens it, revealing a holographic message from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, warning any surviving Jedi about the rise of the Empire. Ezra manages to escape from his prison by tricking the Stormtroopers guarding him to enter the cell, giving him the opportunity to slip out and lock them inside. He makes his way to a storage room, where he picks up his gear and an Imperial helmet, which he uses to listen to communications throughout the ship. He learns the Wookiee prisoners are being taken to the spice mines of Kessel and the Rebels had come back for him. He meets up with them in the docking bay and the group head back to the Ghost and escape leaving behind an explosion that nearly sucks Kallus into the vacuum of space.
After jumping to hyperspace, Ezra shares his findings with the Rebels on where the Wookiees are being taken. Knowing very well that they won't survive in the harsh mining environment, the Rebels, including Ezra, set course for Kessel to rescue them. The Rebels arrive at the Spice Mines of Kessel and open fire on the Imperials giving them a chance to land. Kanan, Zeb and Sabine move in and fight the Stormtroopers giving Ezra the opportunity to sneak pass them and release the Wookiees from captivity. With the Wookiees free, they fight alongside against their captors just as three TIE Fighters emerge and fire on the Ghost. The Ghost leads the fighters away while Kallus' leads more Stormtroopers into battle, forcing the Rebels and the Wookiees to take cover. With the Rebels surrounded and pinned down under heavy fire, Kanan tells Hera to lure the TIE Fighters away and then come back to perform a 22 pickup, a maneuver where the crew and the Wookiees will hide inside a cargo container and be picked up by the Ghost. In order to give them more time, Kanan comes out from cover and ignites his lightsaber, revealing his Jedi identity to Ezra, the Wookiees and the Imperials. While fighting off the Stormtroopers, Ezra goes after a young Wookiee named Kitwarr, who fled from the firefight and is being chased by a Stormtrooper. He manages to rescue him and remove his binders. But they are cornered by Agent Kallus, until the Rebels show up just in time to rescue them and escape.
They depart from Kessel and after sending the Wookiees on their way, they head back to Lothal and return Ezra home. Upon returning to his tower, Kanan tells Ezra about the force and offers him a choice to join their crew and be trained in the ways of the force and become a Jedi. Meanwhile, Agent Kallus contacts the Inquisitor and reports his findings about Kanan and Ezra, which the Inquisitor is pleased to hear about.
- Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger
- Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Kanan Jarrus
- Steven Blum as Garazeb Orrelios / Alton Kastle / Stormtrooper
- Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren
- Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla
- David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus
- Jason Isaacs as The Grand Inquisitor
- James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
- Keith Szarabajka as Cikatro Vizago / Transport Captain / Imperial Officer
- David Shaughnessy as Cumberlayne Aresko / Myles Grint
- James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (extended cut)
- Liam O'Brien as Yogar Lyste
- Greg Ellis as Stormtrooper
- Greg Weisman as Stormtrooper Commander
- While speaking to Hera, Kanan calls Ezra a "Street Rat" which is what Aladdin is called in the film of the same name.
- Kanan's description of the Force to Ezra pays homage to the original speech made by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope.
- When Ezra was warning Kanan and Zeb aboard the Imperial Freighter, he yells out Admiral Gial Ackbar's famous line "It's a trap!".
- In the extended version of the film, Darth Vader's character design is close to the original concept that was used during the early production of A New Hope.
- While the planet Kessel was first mentioned in A New Hope, it's first canon appearance was in this film.
- The name of Tarkintown is a reference to the real-world Hoovervilles, which were created during the Great Depression.
- The Stormtrooper Ezra zaps over the railing on Kessel lets out a Wilhelm scream, an easter egg found in a variety of films, TV shows, and video games.
- Although Palpatine does not appear in the film, he is mentioned twice by Ezra Bridger and Darth Vader in the extended cut.