HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Star Wars Rebels: Season 1
HTS Overall Score:82
I’ll be the first to say that I was rather resentful of “Star Wars Rebels” when we heard in 2013 that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and was shutting down the highly successful “Clone Wars” animated series. I am a rabid opponent of the entire Prequel Trilogy universe, but “The Clone Wars” was the only jewel that somehow managed to make itself actually GOOD out of that whole debacle. So when we heard that Disney was shutting down the series after 5 successful seasons and gimping season 6, you can bet I felt a little perturbed when the announcement followed that a new TV series was starting. One that was separate from the Clone Wars universe and instead focusing on a new group of heroes. I heard good things about the first season, but then it was also rumored that Season 1 of “Rebels” might not even make it to Blu-ray, so I kind of put it out of my mind. Months later, Disney is releasing BOTH the Blu-ray and DVD collection of Season 1 and I have to say that I am in the middle of an entire plate of crow.
Set only a few years before the happenings of “Star Wars: A New Hope”, this season follows the antics of a group of “rebels” who are doing their best to cause havoc for the empire. Led by the rogue Kanan (Freddi Prinze Jr.), and backed up by his pilot Hera (Vanessa Marshall), Lasat giant Zeb (Steve Blum) who acts as the crews muscle, a young Mandalorian girl named Sabine (Tiya Sircar), they wage a 5 man guerilla war against the galactic empire. Things change for them when they pick up an orphaned thief named Ezra (Taylor Gray), who happens to be a bit more special than even he knows. Ezra has some serious authority issues, and makes a rough go of fitting in, but unbeknownst to the young boy he has latent force abilities, and even more surprising is finding out that Kanan is one of the very last surviving Jedi knights still in existence.
Under the guidance of a mysterious benefactor named “fulcrum”, the NOW 6 man crew turn their sights on even more important targets. While staying alive is great fun, and picking off imperial transports is all sorts of entertaining, there are bigger things at stake in the galaxy, and hints are dropped that these “rebels” are not the only ones who feel that the boot of the empire is just a little too heavy on the peoples necks.
The first season of “Rebels” really hits the ground running. Right off the bat we have a full on Jedi Knight back in the Star Wars universe post order 66, and even though they are only the precursors to the Rebel alliance, it’s fun to see little tidbits of information that will flourish into the Rebel Alliance that we know in the original Lucas trilogy of movies. If you watch closely, Sabine’s art style and symbols that she creates is VERY similar to the Rebel Alliance symbol from the movies, as well as a bunch of awesome cameos, like Anthony Daniels as C-3P0, Billy Dee Williams as Lando, Frank Oz as Yoda’s voice and even James Earl Jones at the beginning as Lord Vader.
The excitement of seeing all the classic designs is almost too much for this nerd to handle, as “Rebels” seems to fit much closer to the tone and overall feel of the 1977-1983 film set. Gone are midichlorians, ridiculous Jedi customs which made no sense even when they came out in 2000, and back are the classic Star Destroyers and Storm Troopers. There are more than enough new surprises though, as we have a non Sith force user called “The Inquisitor” (voiced by Jason Isaacs) who acts as the main villain for the series. Instead of pulling an actual apprentice of Vader or the Emperor, the Inquisitor is a force user who doesn’t follow the strict religion of the Sith, but instead is trained in the force to hunt down and kill Jedi (It was rumored early on that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would have the Inquisitors as the main villains, but it looks like Disney used them for “Rebels” instead).
There’s some kiddy moments that draw the series down from a 4.5/5 rating, but that’s really to be expected, as both “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” was targeted at the younger audience. Sometimes I rolled my eyes at a cheesy “life lesson” moment, but overall I was very impressed with the ability to capture the attention of an adult as well, much like WB did with “The Clone Wars”. There’s plenty of cool tie ins to the original trilogy, but it was nice to see that they acknowledged the existence of “The Clone Wars” universe, as there’s a few nods to characters and events that happened only in that series, as well as an end of the series reveal of Fulcrum which will leave every “Clone Wars” fan squealing in delight. I’m sure you could look up who I’m talking about, but it was AWESOME to let the reveal come as a surprise. Next Season looks like it’s going to be even more amped up, as James Earl Jones is coming back to voice Darth Vader as a main character, which opens up even more and more doors and explains just how the Rebel Alliance got their start. It's not as good as the best seasons of "The Clone Wars" just yet, however it is a good bit better than the first season of that show, which gives me great hopes for the future of "Star Wars Rebels".
The Episode Rundown is as follows.
Spark of Rebellion Part 1
Spark of Rebellion Part 2
Droids In Distress
Rise of the Old Masters
Out of Darkness
Path of the Jedi
Vision of Hope
Call to Action
Fire Across the Galaxy
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=52650[/img]Disney does GREAT work on their animated feature films, and even though “Rebels” is a bit pedestrian in the animation STYLE, the results are this short of perfect. Digital detail is gorgeous, eking out every last bit of fine detail form the limited CGI art, and showing no signs of jaggies or other animated artifacts. The colors are bright and richly saturated, with orange, blue, green and other primary based hues making up the majority of the picture. Blacks are deep and inky, without any hint of crush or washed out greys. I REALLY looked for banding, as I’m used to the “Clone Wars” issues that Warner had, but there is none to be seen. I thought I saw it once or twice, but upon closer inspection it looks to be just simple shading techniques done by the art department along a face. Simply put, the picture looks incredible, and if the animation style had a bigger budget this thing would rival their animated feature films. The art design is drastically different than “The Clone Wars”, and was a bit off putting at first, but it certainly grows on you after a while. Image wise, I really can’t complain at all. Simply gorgeous.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=52658[/img]I’m a bit surprised, as Disney has always been a real stickler for having lossless audio options on their discs, but much like their release of “The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions” (season 6), “Rebels” features a 640kbps Dolby Digital audio track for the series. There isn’t a WHOLE lot of compression on the discs, and actually seems to have some room to spare on the disc, so the lack of lossless audio is a bit puzzling. With that being said, the track is very good. The dialog is crisp and clean, locked up there in the center channel as expected, and balanced well with the action of the track. Surround speakers are alive with a ton of action oriented activity, ranging from the roar of the “Ghost” through hyperspace, or the “pew, pew” of blasters firing down the hallway. Ambient noises and the wonderful “Star Wars” score by Kevin Kiner (with some help in the form of the original John Williams tracks) flow throughout, giving a wildly immersive experience that is beautiful to behold. LFE is strong and powerful, adding a serious amount of oomph to the Jedi lightsabers, as well as the blast that accompanies a hyperspace jump. The track sometimes feels a bit thinner than a lossless track would, and I can definitely feel the lack of dynamic range, but the audio is still quite good, considering, and makes the most of its bandwidth.
• "Rebels" Infiltrates "Star Wars" Celebration
• "Star Wars Rebels": The Ultimate Guide - Jedi Kanan Jarrus hosts this exciting 22-minte recap of Season 1.
• Rebels Season 2: A Look Ahead - Exclusive sneak peek as executive producer Dave Filoni reveals footage and concept art, plus a few inside secrets from the upcoming season.
• Rebels Recon - 14 fun, insightful, behind-the-scenes journeys archived as 5-minutes companion pieces to episodes from Season One.
• The Machine In The Ghost - Art Attack
• Entanglement - Property Of Ezra Bridgers
I was hugely disappointed that Disney cancelled the wonderful “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, but I was REALLY surprised at how much I liked the direction and tone of “Star Wars Rebels”. It has a decidedly Original Trilogy feel to it (especially since it is only a couple of years before “Star Wars: A New Hope” and features the familiar Storm Trooper and spaceship design as that trilogy), and maintains the consistently high storytelling that “Clone Wars” was famous for. I had a complete blast with the truncated series, and I really look forward to season 2 in a few month. The video is simply fantastic, and despite the lossy audio, the 5.1 experience is well worth it. Add in some solid extras to the mix and this is a show every “Star Wars” fan should check out. Highly recommended.
Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Taylor Gray
Created by: Simon Kinberg, Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 331 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Buy Star Wars Rebels: Season 1 Blu-Ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Definite Watch
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