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LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – Season One (Blu-ray Review)

Star-Wars-Freemaker-S1When I first received word of this Blu-ray release was actually the first time I’d even heard of this show.  There seemed to be no buzz, no push or anything about it.  That, or marketing and noteworthy news didn’t spread past the age of seven.  I was quite surprised a Star Wars thing I hadn’t heard about was coming to Blu-ray.  Granted, its LEGO Star Wars, but its original character in a series that isn’t just a complete parody.  I’d seen the other short series LEGO Star Wars had done on Disney XD and this wasn’t it.  So, its with great curiosity that I would be checking out the first season of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemakers completely blind, and yes, with the blast shield down.

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Film 

Join the Freemakers in their spectacular first season of LEGO Star Wars Adventures. Taking place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, these new adventures follow a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact – the Kyber Saber –he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and discover the strength of family.

First off, fellow nerds, The Freemaker adventures is not something you desperately need to check for canon or continuity purposes.  It clearly throws any type of connection like that right out the window.  It plays and jokes with known Star Wars history, events and characters and never really treats them as primary, all ancillary to our main crew.  Is it completely kid friendly?  For the most part it is, but really, the jokes here will find the hardcore or even just plain adult struggling not to have a grin whether something be actually clever or just plain silly.  Oh, sure, some eye rolling too.  Plenty of eye rolling.  When its good, the vibe and such of this can be akin to that of a friendly kids version of a Robot Chicken sketch or idea.

This mostly follows a family that scavenges for ship parts and yeah…they have a little kid who is Force sensitive.  Because, well, that’s how things have to play.  Along the way the wind up getting into some of the Star Wars events and mingling with known characters.  Billy Dee Williams is the only person that comes back to voice their respective person because, when doesn’t he?  And because they maybe don’t know how long this is going to run, they run the gamut on places to visit in the Star Wars universe as we get Hoth, Bespin, Tatooine and most of the usual suspect terrains in one season.  Its fine, but its just sort of expected.

Am I the real judge for this?  Well, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so yes, I suppose.  I found it to have some charming moments, but really nothing enthralling for myself.  My true judge would be my children who this is mostly (Or probably totally) aimed at.  My son (4) really, really is enjoying it, maybe having seen most of the episode twice already.  My daughter (2) seems to think its okay, but after a little while of watching it asks if she can watch The Force Awakens again.  So, there you have the age appropriate meter.  Like I said before, its not awful, just nothing you really need to set your sights on.

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Episodes

A Hero Discovered

The Mines of Graballa

Zander’s Joyride

The Lost Treasure of Cloud City

Peril on Kashyyyk

Crossing Paths

Race on Tatooine

The Test

The Kyber Saber Chase

The Maker of Zoh

Showdown on Hoth

Duel of Destiny

Return of the Kyber Saber

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Well, this is some modern CG animation, so it should easily look terrific, though its merely just okay and better than average.  The image looks strong and carries a lot of details in the artwork, but it feels like the picture could have been more solid and bold in its look rather than the sort of light feel it has (If that makes any sense).  Its almost in a broadcast quality look, which when coming to Blu-ray should have at least an incremental step up from that.

Depth:  Decent depth work here.  As its completely CG (Not stop motion), it lends itself to a more 3 dimensional appeal with its smooth movements and distinct separation from the backgrounds and the like.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and slightly gray.  The color manages to appear solid while also doing some good shading and outlining work.  No crushing noticed in this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty strong for the most part.  Engine fire, blaster fire and lightsaber blades really propel off the screen here with a good vibrant appeal.  Characters, ships, environments all strongly carry a bold one-note primary look that is strong and LEGO-like.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Just like the rest of the animated Star Wars television series, the LEGO Freemakers series is no different in not carrying a lossless track.  Its a big disappointment and this track lacks a sort of urgency or big feel to it.  Its a very passive and non involved sound that comes from it.  For many it will be just fine, but for a lot of people they won’t feel they are getting near as much out their home theater system as they should be.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Here’s the biggest area of loss here with the Dolby Digital track.  This thing lacks the pounding from the subwoofer.  There are many instances that could use a good thwump, have it at their disposal, and it just doesn’t hit as good as a lossless would have.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There are some fun moments and the rear speakers are not forgotten in this mix.  Interplay and travel between speakers is very good and volume placement and accuracy is key.  However, there are probably intricacies that may have been come to play had this been a DTS-HD MA track, exposing and showing off layered small effects than this Dolby Digital one we get.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and clean.

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Extras 

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemakers – Season One is 2-Blu-ray Disc set that comes with a digital copy of the season as well as a set of 6 “bubble magnets”.  All bonus material is featured on Disc 2.

Meet The Freemaker Family (HD, 2:21) – The voice cast introduces themselves and their characters.

Freemaker Salvage and Repair (HD, 1:02) – A commercial that gives a gyst on the family business featured in the show.

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Summary 

The Freemaker Adventures dabbles mostly in the silly side of Star Wars.  While it may feel like it hits mostly home for the kiddies, I think there is a lot of clean humor for the hardcore fan and adult to enjoy.  The presentation looks good, but is just very average in the audio department which is disappointing (Where’s the lossless?).  The extras on the release are pretty blah and useless, making the cheap-o magnets the real highlight of any sort of bonus material.  This isn’t anything you really need unless you NEED everything.  I’d mostly say its a nice surprise for any young one in your life into Star Wars this holiday season.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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