Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: 'Star Wars Rebels' Season One Blu-Ray Box Set

By: Dominic Jones

With all the excitement about The Force Awakens, and all the hype for "Force Friday" next week, one Star Wars release seems at risk at slipping under the radar.  And that's a shame because Star Wars Rebels Season One on Blu-ray (and DVD), which hits shelves on September 1st, is a worthy pick up for any Star Wars fan.

Season one of Rebels was a strong introduction to new characters and situations that we will hopefully be following for many years to come.  The crew of the starship The Ghost provides a nice cross section of familiar, yet new,  characters and archetypes from the Star Wars galaxy.  While some found the decision to set the majority of first season on the planet Lothal tiresome, I enjoyed the way the team behind Rebels chose to start small and really focus in how the Empire impacted individuals in the galaxy.  I feel it gives characters an emotional grounding as they head out to explore more of the galaxy in season two.  The inclusion of classic characters like Yoda, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Bail Organa, helped give a sense of grandeur to events, solidifying their place as important moments in the Star Wars mythology.

The box set itself features a variation on the season one poster on the cover, and the discs feature the characters Ezra and Sabine.  While it would have been cool to see new art, it's hard to argue with the choice. The episodes themselves look great on Blu-ray.  Much like its predecessor Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animation quality on Rebels improves as the season goes on (although not quite as drastically).

When it comes to Bonus Features there are four main offerings, "Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration," "Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide," "Rebels Season 2: A Look Ahead," and all 14 episodes of "Rebels Recon" from  The bonus features are entertaining, though I wish some more about the making of Rebels had been included.  "Rebels Recon" is the only feature to give us a behind the scenes look, but that content has been available on YouTube and since the episodes first aired.  Nothing against "Rebels Recon"--those are still fantastic--but a more in depth featurette about the conception of the show, as well as the writing, animating, and post production would have been a nice bonus.

As for the features that are included, they're pretty fun.  The Celebration featurette is especially fun for those of us who were there, giving us a chance to relive the good times of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, while searching for our friends and ourselves in the crowds.  (Alas, I was nowhere to be found, but SWU team members Jake and Lillian can be spotted if you know where to look).  And, if you couldn't make it to Anaheim, this feature is bound to make you want to hop on a flight to England next July for Celebration Europe 2016.

The "Ultimate Guide" featurette is a 22 minute look back at season one from the point of view of Kanan Jarrus.  Narrated by Freddie Prinze Jr, this is a great way to quickly get caught up on the major events of season one.  It feels like the sort of thing that could air on Disney XD in the lead up to season two, so don't be too surprised if we see it on the schedule this October. 

The look ahead at season two provides some interesting insights into where we'll be going when season two picks up on October 14th.  The featurette begins with Executive Producer Dave Filoni addressing viewers and laying down some hints and teases for stories that will be tackled in season two.  We then see an updated version of the season two trailer which was first debuted at Celebration.  Some of the "The Siege of Lothal" content is removed in favor of new, unaired, material.

My only real complaint about the box set has to do with functionality.  If you don't choose "Play All" at the beginning, when an episode ends, instead of continuing on to the next episode or taking you back to the menu, you are forced to endure several legal warnings.  The other thing that seems odd is that "Spark of Rebellion" is split into two episodes, complete with a "To be continued" title card at the end of the first part.  There's no way to watch "Spark" as one 44-minute episode, despite the fact that it was broadcast as a single episode and also released on DVD as such earlier this year.

All in all the box set is pretty solid.  While it could have used a little more behind the scenes content and some of the functionality is odd, the episodes look fantastic and the bonus features that are included are very enjoyable.  Season one of Rebels is a great introduction to the Disney era, and continues the tradition of high quality Star Wars animation that Star Wars: The Clone Wars began.

Score: 8/10

A photo posted by Dominic Jones (@dominicj25) on

You can follow me on Twitter: @DominicJ25

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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