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Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three (Blu-ray Review)

In this new, Disney-led, era of Star Wars, one of the best joys for me has been the animated follow up to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels. The program has been a nice bridge, follow up and unique to in its own right, piece of the galaxy. From its own characters to cameos and stories regarding known characters or resurrected “Legends” persons, its been a welcome part of the Star Wars family, What best works though, is how much the show has really delivered on some of those elder Star Wars feelings. Rebels is coming to a conclusion this Fall in its fourth season, but before that you can relive its rather large and eventful third season that sets it up.  That season comes to Blu-ray, which you may pre-order below, on August 29th.

Season 

Having established a secret base on Atollon, the Ghost crew, now led by a more powerful Ezra, strengthens the Rebel fleet by acquiring new resources and recruits eager to stand against the Empire.  However, the Imperial efforts to eliminate the Rebellion are now being led by the coldly analytical Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose strategic, tactical and cultural insights make him a threat unlike any they have faced before. Ezra and Sabine must take on new roles and challenges as the Rebels prepare for their biggest mission yet – a direct assault on the Empire.

Word came that Star Wars Rebels upcoming fourth season would be its last at D23 this past summer. All of a sudden, some of my qualms made a little more sense with its third season. We’ve known that Rebels had a specific window, but I think many of us thought that was five seasons. Which, when you look at the third season, it feels as if they decided on four right at the start of that one. Season three is fine, fun and eventful, but it is quite crammed with a lot of different arcs and plots that may have been meant for two separate seasons. None of the plots are really bad, just a bit much.

One of the big attractions for the third season was the return/new canon debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Timothy Zahn’s legendary baddie was introduced for this third (And now fourth) season. He had big shoes to fill considering the main antagonist in the second season was Darth friggin’ Vader. Thrawn does so admirable with his hauntingly eerie cool collective. He’s a strategist, but also someone who appreciates the intelligence and pull on his push from his adversaries. Even when you think the rebels might have a bit of an upper hand against him, you’ll see that you weren’t looking at everything in the fine details.

Rebels third season also begins forming into the live action events (Rogue One, A New Hope) that are coming upon them in the timeline. Princess Leia, Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma all come into play to set up and align where they will be in the coming events. For me, none of this feels forced at all. Its natural and fun. Where things may feel forced in at times is with the character of Maul. But, I’ll be the apologist on the guy, because I’ve always thought he was pretty cool. Plus, while I didn’t truly need to see Obi Wan Kenobi in Rebels, they found a way to neatly wrap up he and Maul’s that I found pretty satisfactory.

Our Rebels characters continue to grow and evolve. They even show the process of aging as obviously Ezra Bridger now has shorter hair and is visibly taller and leaner. His journey through learning the force has twists, turns and spill with the dark side. He’s learning to become a prominent figure in the alliance. Also taking the alliance by storm is Hera, who leads battles and continues to show what an important part of the command she is. Getting probably the most prominent arc is Sabine Wren (My personal favorite character of the series), who finds herself tied strongly back to her Mandalorian roots through learning the force and discovering the Darksaber.

Even being a bit overstuffed, Star Wars Rebels brings the Star Wars goods, even if it is a lot of them. Those who are fans of the original trilogy, the newer trilogy, the prequel trilogy, Rogue one, Legends novels or The Clone Wars will fine a wonderful satisfaction or maybe even new appreciation for others in this season. Its a lot here, but feels closer in narrative representation to The Clone Wars this time around more than it does its own Rebels brand. And that’s not a bad thing, its just a different course than we’d grown comfortable with. I’ll be sad to see this show go next season, but am optimistic to see what comes next from Dave Filoni and company.

Episodes

Steps Into Shadow

The Holocrons of Fate

The Antilles Extraction

Hera’s Heroes

The Last Battle

Imperial Supercommandos

Iron Squadron

The Wynkathu Job

An Inside Man

Visions and Voices

Ghosts of Geonosis: Part 1

Ghosts of Geonosis: Part 2

Warheads

Trials of the Darksaber

Legacy of Mandalore

Through Imperial Eyes

Secret Cargo

Double Agent Droid

Twin Suns

Zero Hour: Part 1

Zero Hour: Part 2

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Star War Rebels: Complete Season Three looks really good on Blu-ray.  Its even a very nice uptick from the HD broadcast.  Detail is very high, and the image looks very crisp and sharp.  All the lighting and colors come across so wonderfully.  The highlights being the lightsaber battles of course.  Those look marvelous on this Blu-ray set. The animation style here is plenty simple but every twist, turn and piece of detail on a face or uniform or ship surface is accounted for.

Depth:  Yeah, this CG show has good 3 dimensional work and expert spacing.  Characters and objects move and live plenty free of their setting and environment.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and do what they do in animation.  Detail still present with visible texture and no crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Rebels features an interesting palette that seems limited, but does feature plenty of colors.  Every thing pops here and plays the correct role it needs to be.  The lightsabers are beautifully displayed here, vibrant and breathtaking.  Colors are vivid when they need to be and dingy and used when they are supposed to.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

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

Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  Continuing a disappointing tradition started in The Clone Wars, Rebels third season still supports the compressed Dolby Digital format.  That said, this is a pretty terrific track that delivers the goods and then some.  Audio is full, distinct and decently layered.  Even while being just Dolby Digital, it does the job pretty handsomely.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, ship engines, flybys,the rocking and roaring of the sand and some intense sabering put the subwoofer to work.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Most of the action is in the front for the most part.  The rear channels do provide some light ambiance and extra intangibles during big action sequences whether it be in a space dogfight or some blaster fire flinging around.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clean with solid attention on diction.

Extras 

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three is a 3-Blu-ray disc set.

Disc 1

Rebels Recon (51:26) – StarWars.com’s Andi Gutierrez hosts a little episode recap program that includes little insights, interviews with cast and makers, and behind the scenes on each episode.

  • Inside “Steps Into Shadow” 
  • Inside “The Holocrons of Fate”
  • Inside “The Antilles Extraction”
  • Inside “Hera’s Heroes” 
  • Inside “The Last Battle”
  • Inside “Imperial Supercommandos”
  • Inside “Iron Squadron”

Disc 2

Audio Commentary

  • “Trials of the Darksaber” – By Executive Producer Dave Filoni
  • “Legacy of Mandalore” – By Executive Producer Dave Filoni, CG Supervisor/Lighting & EFC Joel Aron, Animation Supervisor Keith Kellogg, Art Director Kilian Plunkett & Supervising Director Justin Ridge

Rebels Recon (HD, 46:24)

  • Inside “The Wynkathu Job”
  • Inside “An Inside Man”
  • Inside “Visions and Voices”
  • Inside “Ghosts of Geonosis”
  • Inside “Warhead”
  • Inside “Trials of the Darksaber”
  • Inside “Legacy of Mandalore”

Disc 3

Audio Commentary

  • “Through Imperial Eyes” By Executive Producer Dave Filoni, CG Supervisor/Lighting & EFC Joel Aron, Animation Supervisor Keith Kellogg, Art Director Kilian Plunkett & Supervising Director Justin Ridge
  • “Double Agent Droid” By Executive Producer Dave Filoni, CG Supervisor/Lighting & EFC Joel Aron, Animation Supervisor Keith Kellogg, Art Director Kilian Plunkett & Supervising Director Justin Ridge and Co-Executive Producer Henry Gilroy
  • “Twin Suns” By Executive Producer Dave Filoni

A Rebel Alliance (HD, 6:10) – A featurette that talks about being able to explore the period between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star wars, especially with Rogue One release during that season. There is a good amount of discussion on Mon Mothma and her official announcement of the formation of the Rebel Alliance. It also points out the easter eggs and has some behind the scenes footage for Rogue One. They also play a little with the upcoming fourth season.

Return To Mandalore (HD, 6:59) – Focuses on the Sabine plot arc where she returns to her homeworld and reconnects with her family. Mandalorians were focused on in The Clone Wars and this is the first venture into their culture. Dave Filoni never planned on returning to this territory, but was excited to break a story on it. The featurette also touches on the Darksaber.

Thrawn: A Legend Reborn (HD, 6:59) – This one covers the translation of bringing the legendary literary character  back into the fold. A plan, Filoni says has been on the table since Rebels began. It covers everyone’s thoughts on the books and how they came with the design to the voice acting. There is a lot of footage of Timothy Zahn being around and advising and appreciating what has been done. This also touches on the character of Rook’s inclusion in Season 4.

Apprentices To Outcasts: Kenobi And Maul (HD, 8:47) – A really impressive look at the history and final duel with Obi Wan and Maul. It goes over the voice casting, the inspiration they were pulling from for the duel (Seven Samurai). What’s really awesome is the EXTREME amount of detail, layering and depth that went in to such a brief and calculated encounter. It ends on Filoni talking about a possible debate on who “the chosen one” is, though George Lucas has insisted it IS Anakin.

The Original Rebel: Saw Gerrera Returns – Extended (HD, 3:19) – A little bit about Saw Gerrera links from Clone Wars to Rebels to Rogue One. It comes with some concept art as well as input from Forrest Whitaker about this connective character.

Rebels Recon (HD, 44:48) 

  • Inside “Through Imperial Eyes”
  • Inside “Secret Cargo”
  • Inside “Double Agent Droid”
  • Inside “Twins Suns”
  • Inside “Zero Hour”

Summary 

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three is another success for Dave Filoni and company. They take advantage of numerous resources at their disposal and blend a rather terrific concoction. This Blu-ray continues with a terrific picture and solid sound. The extras really up the game here, with a load of them full of really interesting information, interviews and insight into the show. Seriously, the amount of detail that went into the Obi Wan and Maul fight is tremendous. You collect Star Wars, you own the previous seasons, no surprise, you’re buying this one too. Oh, and if you’ve never seen the show, its never too late to start.

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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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