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'Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One' Blu-ray Review: The Force is strong with 'The Clone Wars' successor

September 2, 2015Ben MK

With The Clone Wars, Star Wars fans spent six seasons (seven if you count The Lost Missions) delving deep into the heart of one of the saga's most pivotal conflicts. Now showrunner Dave Filoni and company are giving fans a look at another key turning point in Star Wars mythology: the birth of the Rebellion.

Set between the events of Episode III and Episode IV, Star Wars Rebels tells of the adventures of the rag-tag crew of the rebel ship The Ghost — Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), his apprentice, Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), Captain Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall), her astromech Chopper, on-board muscle Zeb Orrelios (Steve Blum) and Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) — as they fight back against the Empire and try to outfox and outrun its agents, Kallus (David Oyelowo), of the Imperial Security Bureau, and the Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs), a ruthless Sith Lord.

So, does Star Wars Rebels live up to its predecessor, The Clone Wars? Well in terms of the visuals, the action and the humor, it's definitely cut from the same cloth. And with its mix of both new characters and fan favorites (including Lando Calrissian, Yoda and Darth Vader, all of whom are voiced by the original trilogy actors), the show is most certainly off to a promising start. Long story short, Star Wars Rebels does a terrific job blending classic Star Wars with a kid-friendly Disney aesthetic; and fans of both the classic trilogy and The Clone Wars won't be disappointed.

As for Disney's Complete First Season Blu-ray set, here's an episode-by-episode rundown of what you can expect to find:

  • Spark of Rebellion (Part I and II) - It is a dark time. The Jedi are no more, and the Empire rules the galaxy with an iron fist — bringing tyranny to the Outer Rim world of Lothal. Their ominous presence is a cloud over the planet, squashing any hope of freedom or a better life, especially for 14-year-old orphan Ezra Bridger. But the young con artist soon finds that destiny has other plans for him, as he encounters a small band of rebels who dare to strike back against the Empire.
  • Droids in Distress - Low on food and fuel, the Ghost crew agrees to steal an Imperial weapons shipment for crime lord Cikatro Vizago. During the mission, they encounter a familiar droid duo — and find that the weapons in question are more deadly than they'd realized.
  • Fighter Flight - A simple supply run for hard-to-find meiloorun fruit takes a dangerous turn, as Zeb and Ezra draw the attention of Imperials... and steal a TIE fighter.
  • Rise of the Old Masters - Kanan continues to train Ezra in the ways of the Force, but both become frustrated with each other and their new roles. Meanwhile, an underground transmission reveals that a Jedi Master, long thought dead, is alive and in Imperial custody.
  • Breaking Ranks - Looking to steal an Imperial decoder, Ezra goes undercover as a cadet at the Lothal Imperial Academy.
  • Out of Darkness - Their relationship strained over trust issues, Hera and Sabine team up for a supply run but find an unexpected danger waiting.
  • Empire Day - Ezra struggles with unanswered questions from the past on Empire Day — his birthday — while the Ghost crew uncovers key Imperial intel.
  • Gathering Forces - The Inquisitor continues his pursuit of the Ghost crew, while Ezra looks to make a connection with the Force.
  • Path of the Jedi - Kanan and Ezra venture into a hidden Jedi Temple, where they both face new trials — and encounter one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known.
  • Idiot's Array - After Zeb bets — and loses — Chopper in a game of sabacc, the Ghost crew find themselves caught in the middle of a smooth-talking smuggler's scheme.
  • Vision of Hope - After experiencing a vision of the future, Ezra leads the Ghost crew into a meeting with a potential ally.
  • Call to Action - The Ghost crew, having proved effective in their strikes against the Empire, win the attention of a powerful new enemy.
  • Rebel Resolve - With Kanan in Imperial custody, Ezra makes a risky deal and sets a plan in motion to save his Master.
  • Fire Across the Galaxy - The Ghost crew makes a final desperate attempt to rescue Kanan from the Empire. Who will fall?

As one might expect, Star Wars Rebels' all-digital visual presentation looks completely fantastic on Blu-ray, delivering vibrant colors and crisp picture quality whether we're on new worlds like Ezra's home planet of Lothal, or visiting familiar locales like Mustafar or the spice mines of Kessel. The downside, however, is that the show's audio is encoded in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, which, while perfectly capable in its own right, doesn't quite compare to its uncompressed counterpart. Still, familiar sounds like the humming of lightsabers and the screaming of TIE fighter engines come through relatively loud and clear, as does the series' stellar musical score and voice acting.

Disney's two-disc Blu-ray release includes the following special features:

  • Rebels Recon (81:12) - social media correspondent Andi Gutierrez gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at each and every episode of season one, summarizing plotlines, previewing upcoming episodes, speaking with the cast and crew, and answering fans' questions about the show in general. This feature is divided up into 14 installments (one per episode), and is split equally over discs one and two.
  • Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration (4:03) - Footage from the cast and crew's panel appearance at Star Wars Celebration 2015.
  • Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide (22:05) - Freddie Prinze Jr., in character as Kanan, narrates this point-by-point rundown of the show, touching on the storylines, the heroes and the villians of season one.
  • Rebels Season 2: A Look Ahead (7:06) - Executive producer Dave Filoni summarizes the events of the season one finale and gives some insight into the evolution of the Ghost crew in season two, as well as the new villains they will face, the new allies they will encounter, and the secrets that will be revealed.
  • The Machine in The Ghost (3:02) - A short that highlights Chopper's role as the ship's mechanic and navigator, in which he must help Kanan and Hera as they maneuver The Ghost to fend off a TIE fighter attack.
  • Art Attack (3:02) - Another short, this time one that has Sabine causing some Stormtroopers grief when she infiltrates an Imperial installation and spray paints, then blows up, one of their TIEs.
  • Entanglement (3:02) - Zeb is the focus of this short, which has him squaring off against some ill-prepared Imperial officers as he tries to make his way to a mission rendezvous point.
  • Property of Ezra Bridger (3:02) - In this final short, Ezra helps himself to some tech from a downed TIE fighter, outwitting its dumbfounded Imperial pilot in the process.

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of September 1st, 2015. Episode synopses above provided courtesy of Disney. The Blu-ray features English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish. The total runtime is 5 Hrs. 31 Mins.

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