Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season 2
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // $45.99 // August 30, 2016
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 22, 2016
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Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Blu-ray Review

Star Wars: Rebels is an animated Disney XD series which explores the universe of Star Wars with familiar characters and new ones. The second season of the series expands on the first season outing with an even bigger group of episodes featuring outer-space exploration and action-packed adventure. The series takes place following the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars but before the original Star Wars film started it all. Star Wars: Rebels is from executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman.

The series cast of characters consists of  Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Hera (Vanessa Marshall), and Zeb (Steve Blum). This season also brings a focus to expanding the role of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) from The Clone Wars series. The series focuses on the group of rebels working against the Galactic Empire. The group consists of two Jedi (one of whom, Ezra, is still in training), which are almost extinct during this point in the Star Wars time-line.

The second season of Star Wars: Rebels is something of a departure from the first season outing. Unlike season one, which offered a continuing story-arc for much of the season, this season of the series diverges from that more filmic aspect to have more episodic episodes. The storylines are like mini-movies. Some episodes are absolutely terrific and add a lot of excitement to the Star Wars universe (others seem to drag some and don't add as much to the story). The larger episode count didn't seem to add much to the overarching storyline but it does give fans more action-packed fun.

This season works harder to connect Star Wars: Rebels to Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. It's trying to bridge a gap between all the Star Wars canon: the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and the previous animated Star Wars series. It does a commendable job of connecting all the various Star Wars entries. Part of the fun is in the way the series pays homage to the original films and the entire saga. This season includes fun guest appearances by Yoda, Princess Leia, and other characters. The season has terrific episodes: including several with good character development and expanded back-story.

Star Wars: Rebels contains an interesting animation style which has a lot of great CG visuals. The art is often amazing and enthralling. The background designs are especially noteworthy: exploring the different planets is frequently breathtaking and beautiful. The character designs certainly impress as well. Action sequences are fluidly designed and detailed with excellent light-saber battles throughout the season. The art style isn't identical to the films or the Clone Wars animated series but it finds a nice balance between styles and stands with its own unique voice.

The series writing team does a good job of exploring the Star Wars mythology. The head writers are Henry Gilroy, Kevin Hopps, and Steven Melching. The team does excellent work on Rebels, with much of the series having a great sense of fun. Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse) also contributes to the series and co-wrote the season finale. The second season wasn't as well structured as the first season was but it still has a lot of exciting ideas behind it. The series is full of action-packed sequences, exciting light-saber battles, and epic space explorations.

This season does have a few issues: the season introduces Darth Vader too early (in the premiere of the season). Then Darth Vader disappears entirely until the season finale. Given how iconic Darth Vader is to the films this seemed like a bit of a disappointment. The season could have used more continuing story-arc elements as well.

The series direction contains a lot of high-energy action sequences throughout the season. The head-direction is by creator/supervising-director Dave Filoni, Bosco Bg, Brad Rau, Saul Ruiz, and Melchior Zwyer. The team of director's keeps the energy of the series brisk and fast-paced. Standout episodes include The Siege of Lothal and the finale Twilight of The Apprentice, which brings back Darth Vader and adds Darth Maul into the mix.

While Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 isn't as strong as its first season outing, the series still packs plenty of action, excitement, and fun into each episode. The series is definitely worthwhile for fans of the Star Wars universe and offers entertainment for audiences of all ages.  For all the nitpicking a fan can do, Star Wars: Rebels is one of the most entertaining animated series on television at the moment. The series has a lot of inventive action sequences and a fun group of characters. It fits nicely into the Star Wars universe (expanding on it's already huge mythology).

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 arrives on Blu-ray with a impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The series has robust colors throughout the season and a clean, clear, and dynamic presentation. Though the video quality isn't perfection (there is some banding on the image on occasion) the series sleek animation style looks splendid in high definition. Fans will certainly enjoy how beautiful and crisp the series looks on Blu-ray.

Audio:

The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound at 640kbps. The sound quality is superior to a standard DVD but it isn't lossless and is therefore not as dynamic or engaging sounding as a true lossless sound mix (DTS-HD Master Audio would have been much preferred). It's a bit of a disappointment (though it's also not unexpected, given that season one's release wasn't lossless either). The surround sound design is sadly not quite as engaging as it was during the first season: though it's not a slouch. Star Wars Rebels: Season 2 just doesn't have as great of a sound design. It's better than your average television series, to be sure, but it certainly isn't up to the standards one might expect from a Star Wars series.

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


Extras:

Rebels Recon (HD) offers fans of Star Wars: Rebels behind-the-scenes videos for each episode in the entire season. Each short featurette provides fans with details about the universe of Star Wars and the approach of the season by various members of the creative staff.

Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season 2 (HD, 4 Min.) explores the way the second season of Star Wars: Rebels connects to the larger Star Wars mythology.

From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs Ahsoka (HD, 6 min.) focuses on the season finale's climatic battle between Darth Vader and Ahsoka.

Theatrical Trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One

Final Thoughts:

Star Wars: Rebels is a fun and exciting series which explores the vast universe of Star Wars with more fun action, adventure, and galactic space battles. The series weaves together both new and returning characters in an exciting way. The series has great animation and is a fun blast for the entire family: audiences of all ages will enjoy this expansion of the beloved Star Wars universe. The Blu-ray release is worth a purchase for fans.

Recommended.



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