Star Wars Rebels: Season 1
Other // Unrated // $45.99 // September 1, 2015
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 14, 2015
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Star Wars Rebels - Season 1 Blu-ray Review

Star Wars Rebels is a new animated series which takes place in and expands upon the beloved Star Wars universe. The series is an original animated program which airs on Disney XD. It is from executive producers Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sherlock Holmes) and Greg Weisman (Young Justice). The series takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before Star Wars - A New Hope. Star Wars Rebels is based upon the work and characters created by George Lucas.

The series focuses on a small group of characters: Ezra (Taylor Gray), Hera (Vanessa Marshall), Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Zeb (Steve Blum), and Chopper. They form a team which stands up against the Galactic Empire. Kanan is one of the few Jedi left. Hera is the pilot of their starship The Ghost. Zeb is a Lasat, whose species was almost entirely made extinct by the Galactic Empire. Sabine is a weapons expert who loves to make graffiti artwork. Ezra is a orphan who becomes the latest member of the team. The team also consists of the robot Chopper (a spin on the R2-D2 character).

The story of Star Wars Rebels focuses on these characters as they work together to try and stop the Galactic Empire, including the likes of Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) and Darth Vader (James Earl Jones). The Jedi are almost gone at this point and the remaining Jedi are still trying to bring peace to the Galaxy. As one of the last remaining Jedi, Kanan trains Ezra in the ways of becoming a Jedi (and Ezra eventually ends up building a dual lightsaber).

The series is an origin story that focuses on characters who helped to form the Star Wars Rebel Alliance. As the series takes place five years before the events of the first Star Wars film, Star Wars Rebels includes both new characters as well as returning fan-favorite characters from the original trilogy. Some of the special appearances by the original Star Wars characters includes Yoda (Frank Oz), Lando (Billy Dee Williams), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and R2-D2.

Star Wars Rebels is remarkable from a production standpoint. This is one of the best looking CG animated series ever made for television. The style of the animation was inspired by the original artwork done by the famous Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie , whose paintings and designs for the original film series were crucial to the animators working on Star Wars Rebels. The series art direction was done by Kilian Plunkett (one of the lead designers of Star Wars: The Clone Wars). The animation on the show is breathtakingly beautiful. Everything from the character designs to the detailed designs of the starships impresses.

The series score is composed by Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). The score uses a lot of the famous themes composed by John Williams for Star Wars. The music is energetic fun as the beloved themes of the Star Wars universe are blended into the mix.

Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni, and Simon Kinberg created Star Wars Rebels. The writing team of the series impresses. Kinberg is a strong Hollywood screenwriter with writing credits which include X-Men: Days of Future Past. Kinberg wrote several of the best episodes. The writing team also includes Greg Weisman (Young Justice), Kevin Hopps (The Spectacular Spider-Man) and Henry Gilroy (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). This is a strong writing team which brings a lot to the Star Wars universe.

The series is directed by three Star Wars: The Clone Wars directors: Steward Lee, Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Justin Ridge. The series also features episodes directed by Steven G. Lee. The directing is excellent and is a great compliment to the writing. This is an exciting and action-packed series.

Star Wars Rebels includes action-packaged direction, strong writing, and amazing animation. Fans of Star Wars should absolutely check out the series (especially Star Wars fans who are animation fans). This is one of the best series on television (animated or otherwise). This is certainly a series made for massive Star Wars fans. Star Wars Rebels is a great addition to George Lucas's Star Wars mythology.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Star Wars Rebels - Season 1 arrives on Blu-ray from Disney with a wonderful presentation. The series is presented in the original 1.78:1 widescreen television aspect ratio. The series features high quality 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding. The colors are superb. The animation is stunning. This is a fantastic CG animated series which looks near-perfect on Blu-ray. The high-definition presentation is remarkable and with good crisp animation. The only downside is occasional minor banding during some sequences. Detail is strong and the overall quality is incredible.

Audio:

The audio presentation isn't lossless on this Blu-ray release. This is a bit surprising and a little bit disappointing. The release comes with English, French, Spanish, and German 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound presentations in 640 kbps. The good news is that this is an awesome sounding surround mix which is top-notch from start to finish. The series has an incredible sound design which far surpasses most television productions. The sound presentation isn't that bad, either. While the audio included on this release might not be quite as strong as a lossless sound mix viewers will still find this to be a pleasing and satisfactory audio experience.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), French, and Spanish.


Extras:

Rebels Recon (81 min.) is a series of 14 behind the scenes featurettes (as created for the official Star Wars website). These featurettes span the entire first season of Star Wars Rebels. The host interviews various creative individuals from key writers, creators, editors, animators, and more and gives an overview of the various episodes throughout the first season.

Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration (4 min.) is a behind the scenes look at the fan favorite Star Wars celebration held in Anaheim, CA (with the focus of this featurette being Star Wars Rebels).

Rebels: The Ultimate Guide (22 min.) is a clip-show episode which covers the first season of Star Wars Rebels.

Animated Shorts (12 min.) are included: The Machine in the Ghost, Art Attack, Entanglement, and Property of Ezra Bridger. Each short focuses on a different character from the series. The shorts succeed as fun short films and are worth a look for fans.

Season 2: A Look Ahead (7 min.) features an introduction by writer/creator Dave Filoni as he discusses some of the things fans can look forward to in Season 2 and then the extra shows a preview of the second season.

Final Thoughts:

Star Wars Rebels is an entertaining animated series which should be considered as a "must-see" for huge Star Wars fans. The writing and directing is excellent. This is a wonderful series that does a great job at expanding the Star Wars universe. Disney's Blu-ray release features great picture-quality and entertaining extras. The release is well worth a purchase for fans.

Highly Recommended.



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