HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Star Wars Rebels: Season 2
HTS Overall Score:81
*Insert heavy breathing*. I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan and was one of the many rabid fans of “The Clone Wars” who was VERY disappointed when Disney ended the show after they bought out Lucasfilm (in a move that honestly was one of the most shocking things in cinema history). We all knew that Disney was going to bring out their own animated show, but the animosity towards the Mouse House was pretty high as the premier came up. Shockingly enough “Rebels” turned out to be quite a lot of fun, reverting a bit to the feel of the original trilogy, while still holding on to some ties from “The Clone Wars” past. I have been waiting for almost a full year, refusing to watch the TV broadcasts of season 2 of the show just so that I could binge watch the Blu-Rays and I’m glad I did. The show shows a little bit of bloat due to increasing the series from 16 episodes to a full 22, but that bloat is fairly minimal and is offset by some fantastic storytelling that elevates “Rebels” up to the level of what “The Clone Wars” was before it met its untimely end.
If you haven’t seen Season 1 yet, be warned there WILL be a few spoilers ahead.
The ending of season one had some pretty big reveals. Ezra (Taylor Grey), the young apprentice to Jedi Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) have just met their mysterious information broker only to have fans squealing in glee as it is revealed to be none other than Ahsoka Tano (for those of you who have seen “The Clone Wars” there is no introduction necessary. The old apprentice of Anakin Skywalker before she left the Jedi Order. With her and a few other prominent figures they wanted to form a true rebellion against the Empire. Now Ezra, Kanon, Hera (Vanessa Marshall), the Mandalorian Sabine (Tiya Sircar) and the Lasat Zeb (Steve Blum) now have a bigger family than before. However, while this family comes with benefits it also comes with many more responsibilities. Instead of just hanging out and trying to survive as a close band of friends, they are responsible for creating a rebel army and protecting the people of the galaxy on a much wider scale as they gain sympathy amongst the people.
The Inquisitors are back again, and now that the Grand Inquisitor is dead, killed by Kanon last season, they are even more voracious and vengeful. Trying to dodge them turns out to be futile, and soon enough Kanon and Ezra are forced to team up with Ahsoka and hunt them down before they are all destroyed. The only problem is that their search for the inquisitors may reveal a hidden planet that carries with it disturbing secrets as well as beings that very well could spell the end for them all, especially Ahsoka as her destiny is slowly guiding her back to the beginning in a confrontation where apprentice will once more face the master.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77970[/img]I fell in love with “Rebels” last year and am GREATLY pleased with how the show is turning out. So much more is happening this year and more ties to other elements of the Star Wars universe is being rolled in to the series. We get to see a lot more references to “The Clone Wars” this season, with Ahsoka Tano taking front stage as a main character along with the rest of the crew. This is a HUGE boon to the series as Ahsoka was the single best character in “The Clone Wars” and a fan favorite by far. Her inclusion is not just homage or trying to sucker in hesitant fans. It actually works organically with the new direction of the show and being voiced once more by Ashley Ekstein makes her integration into the NEW series that much easier. Not to mention we get to see captain Rex of the clone army back in action, albeit a bit older and chunkier. Those of you who religiously watched “The Clone Wars” will recognize old faces and a few old places from the show coming and going, but those of us who read the extended universe books are in for a few treats as we even get to go to Malachor finally (the old Sith planet). To make matters even more nerd worth, Season 3 promises to bring Timothy Zahn’s Grand Admiral Thrawn to the mix, and Timothy Zahn himself is even writing the very first episode of the season! Ok, breath Mike, Breath. Ok, I think I’ve got control of myself now.
The inquisitors are much more a force to be reckoned with this year and we find out just HOW some of them got their force powers, with a few backstory episodes. Little tidbit, with Freddie Prince Jr. playing Kanan it brought a chuckle to my lips when I heard his wife, Sara Michelle Gellar, voicing the female Inquisitor. While the Inquisitors are cool, what REALLY got fans going was the inclusion of Darth Vader making more than a cameo. This time he’s a major player and for the first time in since the early 80’s he is a force to be reckoned with. It’s nice to actually fear the man behind the mask once more, after the neutering he had underwent during the Prequel Star Wars trilogy. His confrontation with Ahsoka during the final episode has to be the single greatest highlight of the season and for good reason. The emotional buildup after having seen all that they went through in the six years of “The Clone Wars” and changes that has happened to Anakin (once again voiced by James Earl Jones, but also voiced as “Anakin” for a brief few moments as Matt Lanter made a quick cameo in the last few moments of the episode). Needless to say, despite some flaws with filler episodes, the ending of the season had my jaw on the floor and impatiently waiting 4 more weeks till season 3 starts (I don’t think that I can actually wait another year to binge the Blu-rays. I may have to just watch it episode by episode this year)
The Episode Rundown is as follows.
The Siege of Lothal Part 1
The Siege of Lothal Part 2
The Lost Commanders
Relics of the Old Republic
Always Two There Are
Brothers of the Broken Horn
Wings of the Master
The Future of the Force
A Princess on Lothal
The Protector of Concord Dawn
Legends of the Lasat
The Honorable Ones
Shroud of Darkness
The Forgotten Droid
The Mystery of Chopper Base
Twilight of the Apprentice Part 1
Twilight of the Apprentice Part 2
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77978[/img]Disney always does great work with their animated shows, and “Star Wars Rebels” is a prime example of their dedication to top notch encodes. The show has an odd sort of animation styling, but even so, the animation that is shown is drawn well and full of vibrant colors and textures. The lightsabers are blindingly brilliant with all sorts of blaster bolts, alien worlds and the greys of the X-wings and other space ships to compliment the rich colorings. Blacks are deep and inky, and despite a few flickers of banding, or some splashes of crush here and there, it maintains a very deep and strong level of shadow detailing. Fine detailing for everything else is magnificent, with every line and every computer animated featuring being almost flawless, with no signs of jaggies or other digital imperfections. Simply put, it is a near perfect encode that is spread out over 3 discs this time around (due to the episode increase for the second season) and is reference quality all the way.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77986[/img]The audio is the only part that had me raising an eyebrow. Disney is usually VERY good about having lossless audio for everything, but their release of “The Clone Wars: Season 6” as wells as “Rebels: Season 1” had 5.1 Dolby Digital lossy tracks, and Season 2 of “Rebels” follows this puzzling tradition of putting lossy audio on a Blu-ray. While I have to grumble and whine as an audio snob about the downgrade in quality, the drop is really not too bad. The track is quite pleasant with a strong surround presence that really draws the listener in to the space battles. Blaster bolts wiz overheard with authority and the shrieking of ships taking off and cruising through orbit makes great use of the side speakers. LFE is nice and punchy, but it also feels a bit thin too, adding some much needed weight to the space battles and lightsaber battles, but also making the listener realize how much more depth could have been added to the mix with a lossless encode. Dialog is strong and clean, well balanced with rest of the track and the front soundstage is just as alive and boisterous as the surround channels are, making for quite the auditory experience.
• From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka (Exclusive to Blu-ray) – Executive Producer Dave Filoni reflects on the climactic ending of the season, when Ahsoka Tano finally confronts Darth Vader in a long-awaited, fierce and epic lightsaber battle.
• Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season Two – Uncover hidden references, easter eggs and connections to the Star Wars universe found throughout the season.
• Rebel Recons – Blast off with 20 fun, fast-paced episode recons, featuring behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, and more!
I was one of the people that though that “Rebels: Season 1” was ALMOST as good as some of the better seasons of “The Clone Wars” and definitely leaps and bounds better than the first season of said predecessor. “Season 2” has a few flaws, mainly during the middle of the season, but it steps up it’s game and makes for an even better show this go around with some great tie ins to the original “Star Wars” trilogy. The addition of Vader and Ahsoka as main characters was well done and the dip into a darker side rivaled some of the better episodes I’ve seen in “The Clone Wars” and that’s saying a lot. I’m super excited for season 3 to start and can’t wait for more “Rebels” to be hitting my TV. Audio and video are great, although the extras this year are a bit slimmer than the last season. Definitely worth checking out.
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, German, DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 484 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Buy Star Wars Rebels: Season 2 On Blu-Ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Definite Watch
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