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

Star-Wars-Rebels-Season OneStar Wars Rebels: Complete Season One delivers all 15 action-packed episodes plus never-before-seen bonus material and cast/crew interviews revealing the magic behind the making of the hit series. Releasing on Blu-ray and DVD on September 1, this is a must-add collection to the library!  Star Wars Rebels is created by Dave Filoni (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Sherlock Holmes), and Carrie Beck. The Lucasfilm Animation production is also executive-produced by Filoni and Kinberg as well as Greg Weisman (“Gargoyles). Featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr. (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall(TV’s “Young Justice”) as Hera, Steve Blum (“The Boxtrolls”) as Zeb, Tiya Sircar (“The Internship”) as Sabine, Taylor Gray (TV’s “Bucket and Skinner’s Epic Adventures”) as Ezra, David Oyelowo (“Selma”) as Agent Kallus and Jason Isaacs (“Harry Potter”) as the Inquisitor.

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In the first groundbreaking season of Star Wars Rebels, young hero Ezra Bridger joins the clever but motley crew of the starship Ghost in their resistance against the Empire. As the series begins, Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruling with an iron fist and ruining the lives of its people. Ezra and his new rebel friends — Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb and Chopper — embark on daring adventures in their fight against oppression across the galaxy, receiving help from familiar heroes such as Lando Calrissian, Ahsoka Tano, and Jedi Master Yoda. Pursued relentlessly by the Imperials and a Jedi hunter called the Inquisitor, this tenacious ragtag band of rebels will find itself in the crosshairs of none other than Darth Vader when season one closes in a shocking two-part finale. 

As a part of creating the upcoming film The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm did a ballsy, but BRILLIANT, SMART, LOGICAL and INTELLIGENT move (Come at me, haters) and erased the Star Wars expanded universe (Which was convoluted with a whole lot more garbage than quality).  The only retention and canon at that point was the Original Trilogy, the Prequels and the cartoon series Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as anything going forward.  While murky before whether the expanded universe counted or not (Lucas never really acknowledged it, only gave his blessing to produce stuff), NOW everything would count.  Something happening in a comic book or video game could possibly be acknowledged in a movie.  The first bit of this new canon we were introduced to was the new cartoon Star Wars Rebels.

With the EU wiped and excitement building for Episode VII, I was eager to catch Star Wars Rebels.  After all, after a rough start with a pretty bad movie, The Clone Wars turned out some of the best Star Wars related material ever.  It wound up being much of what everyone was hoping or wanting from the Prequels.  I know many could scoff at it being a cartoon or whatnot, but the story and action were quite strong with that show.  And its such a wonderful thing that it all carried over here to the new Rebels cartoon.  Which, this show actually has most of that same collective as The Clone Wars attached.  And being so, the show works terrifically as both a follow up to that and as a lead up to the first Star Wars film.

With the show, we are treated to a whole new roster of characters.  There are other prime Star Wars figures that show up to give an assist at times, but what’s surprising with Rebels is that they really didn’t need that buffer at all.  Luckily, none of the “guest stars” prove distracting, and the addition of Grand Moff Tarkin in the final few episodes actually heightens the sense of dread and intensity on the show.  They were quick to bolster the show’s previews with Darth Vader in the first and final episodes, but those appearances are VERY brief.  Though, don’t worry, once you see the premiere of season two, the dark lord of the Sith with rock your socks off and give you nightmares like he hasn’t in almost 30 years.

Our new characters are a rag tag little group that will wind up being key players in the early formation of the Rebel Alliance.  We have a former Jedi (or one in hiding) in Kanaan, who finds a Force sensitive boy on the lowly Empire-overtaken planet of Lothal.  Through them, we are discovering interesting and new things about the Force.  The Jedi source of power is back to those sort of wondrous mythic proportions again that kept us in awe as someone like Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda or even Darth Vader would discuss them.  Also in the crew are a Mandalorian with a bad ass take on the Fett-look, a hotshot Twi’lek pilot, a big Lasat (based off early designs for Chewbacca) and an astromech droid who is a complete asshole.  This group has almost that same sort of feel and relations that our original Millennium Falcon crew back in 1977.

For those who may worry about a cartoon Star Wars that airs on the Disney XD network; DON’T.  This show isn’t afraid to be what it is, ever.  While the show is definitely more in the family friendly viewing realm, like The Clone Wars before it, its not afraid to get dark or get violent when the story calls for it.  They worry not about appeasing anything but the nature of the story.  There are some shocking twists and turns, deaths and betrayals throughout the first season.  And the main villain, The Inquisitor, is quite vile and ruthless.  Yes, there is one or two episodes early on that definitely fall into that random “kid friendly” type vibe, but it also may have been the result of the season trying to find itself, too.  Aside from that, this was an exciting show that I found myself pretty anxious waiting for new episodes to drop.

I have high hopes for the further adventures of the gang in Star Wars Rebels.  With the additions and promise they have for season two, I have no doubts that they are going to continue to craft and exciting little space opera of their own.  We all know where the world in this story will eventually wind up, but what we don’t know are the fates of this gang of characters and the “how” as to things coming together.  And I’m sure we’ll get more twists, exciting space battles and breathtaking lightsaber fights as the show moves ahead.  Thanks to the success of Rebels, I immediately dove into the comic book series when they began, now trusting this Lucasfilm collective.  And those are quite good, too I might add.  The EU which once found me drifting away and scoffing at, now has me all-in, full “force”.  Its an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, and Star Wars Rebels is one of the big reasons why.

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“Spark of Rebellion Part I”

“Spark of Rebellion Part II”

“Droids in Distress”

“Fighter Flight”

“Rise of the Old Masters”

“Breaking Ranks”

“Out of Darkness”

“Empire Day”

“Gathering Forces”

“Path of the Jedi”

“Idiot’s Array”

“Vision of Hope”

“Call to Action”

“Rebel Resolve”

“Fire Across the Galaxy”

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Star War Rebels season one looks outstanding 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.

Depth:  There’s a nice 3 dimensional look to the show, due to the animation style, that comes across wonderfully here.  The ships flying through space appear free and loose.  Environments are clear and movements come very naturally.

Black Levels:  Blacks look deep and accurate.  No crushing witness, no detail masked by the color.

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: None

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

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  Disappointingly, we are only provided with a Dolby Digital track and not a lossless one.  This isn’t any sort of surprising news, I guess, as The Clone Wars first few season only came this way too.  No matter, for what it is, it does sound very good.  Action and dialogue are captured very well in this mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, blaster fire, the engine hums or starships and speeders all get a good boost from your sub woofer.

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 (especially some of the dogfights in the stars).

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is impressive for not being uncompressed.  Its loud, clean and clear.

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Disc 1

Rebels Recon – A little recap segment that features interviews with the production team.

  • Inside “Spark of Rebellion” (HD, 4:54)
  • Inside “Droids In Distress” (HD, 4:28)
  • Inside “Fighter Flight” (HD, 4:57)
  • Inside “Rise of the Old Masters” (HD, 4:33)
  • Inside “Breaking Ranks” (HD, 5:46)
  • Inside “Out of Darkness” (HD, 5:40)
  • Inside “Empire Day” (HD, 5:48)

Disc 2

Rebels Recon

  • Inside “Gathering Forces” (HD, 5:21)
  • Inside “Path of the Jedi” (HD, 5:52)
  • Inside “Idiot’s Array” (HD, 6:30)
  • Inside “Vision of Hope” (HD, 5:54)
  • Inside “Call to Action” (HD, 6:04)
  • Inside “Rebel Resolve” (HD, 5:55)
  • Inside “Fire Across the Galaxy” (HD, 9:22)

Rebels Infiltrate Star Wars Celebration (HD, 4:03) – Coverage of the Rebels panel at the 2015 Star Wars Celebration convention.

Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide (HD, 22:05) – A season one overview/recap with a bit of narration from Kanaan (Freddie Prinze Jr).

Rebels Season Two: A Look Ahead (HD, 7:06) – Dave Filoni gives a little some insight on what to expect in the show’s second season.  During his discussion, some really awesome storyboards are shown.  Then, the trailer for season two plays.

The Machine In The Ghost (HD, 3:02) – A short that features Kanaan, Hera and Chopper battling some tie fighters in the Ghost.

Art Attack (HD, 3:02) – Sabine thwarts some Storm Troopers on Lothal in this short.

Entanglement (HD, 3:02) – In this short, Zeb finds himself misplaced and needing to get to a rendezvous point while escaping Storm Troopers.

Property of Ezra Bridger (HD, 3:02) – In our introduction to Ezra, he outsmarts a Tie Fighter that has crashed onto Lothal after being disposed of by the Ghost.

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I was incredibly enthralled with the first season of Star Wars Rebels.  It truly brought the feel of the original trilogy back to me.  Week to week, I was very excited to see what twists and turns the series would take.  This Blu-ray has a great picture quality and good enough audio.  The extras don’t go beyond much of what you could have found on TV/OnDemand while the season aired, but its nice to have them collected.  Definitely have Star Wars Rebels in your collection right next to the Clone Wars series.  Its the perfect compliment.

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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).

4 Responses to “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I need to grow a set one day and give this set a chance.
    If I don’t own Clone Wars on Blu-ray, can I put this next to my Star Wars Blu-ray box set?

  2. Brandon Peters

    That will work, Brian! I think the further this story goes (or seasons they produce), the more you’re going to enjoy it.

  3. Brian White

    I noticed the price went up like $4, but as soon as it goes back down to $29.99 I’ll click your Amazon link up above and pick it up. Thank you!

  4. Cash

    Yeah this is a great show, I waited for the blu-ray and watched it for the first time in a maraton fashion