Friday, September 1, 2017

Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season Three Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three delivers all 22 action-packed episodes of the hit CG animated series’ third season, plus exclusive, never-before-seen bonus material on Blu-ray and DVD! The story threads begin to tighten in this thrilling season of Star Wars Rebels, drawing connections to "The Clone Wars," Rogue One and the original Star Wars trilogy into the series’ epic story-line. 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.
Show (5 out of 5 stars)
Much like it's predecessor, "The Clone Wars," "Star Wars: Rebels" just keeps getting better as it goes forward. These shows always start off a little rough but they quickly find their groove and end up being worthy companions to the film series. The only bad part is that when they've hit their peak quality, Lucasfilm/Disney pull the plug on the series. As the next season has been announced to be its last, "Star Wars: Rebels" is going out big. While the focus of the show is on the new group of characters that make up the Ghost crew, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Hera (Vanessa Marshall), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Zeb (Steve Blum), Ezra (Taylor Gray), and their cantankerous droid Chopper, the show isn't afraid to bring in other Star Wars notables such as Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and more. For me, when they do that, the show is even better as those fan favorite characters are what made the saga so popular in the first place and there's a lot of story-lines that can be wrapped up by this show.

Not only do we have some closure for some of the "Clone Wars" story-lines such as when Ahsoka finally confronted her old master Darth Vader, but we also get to see the missing bits like the formation of the Rebel Alliance and the rise of established characters like Mon Mothma who we only know from the movies. Another exciting element of this show, is that it's bringing back the recently disbanded expanded universe that was dumped when Disney bought Lucasfilm. Probably the biggest draw of the expanded universe is Grand Admiral Thrawn who is not only brought back, but put to good use and in a manner that's true to the characterization that author Timothy Zahn intended for him. 

While Darth Vader was the primary threat during season two, he was essentially only worried about killing the Jedi characters. Thrawn has a much bigger goal which is to destroy the entire Rebellion before it gets off the ground. He is a long term strategist who doesn't mind losing the battle as long as it will ensure that he wins the war in the end, which makes him even more dangerous to the Ghost crew and their allies who aren't used to that kind of warfare. Another change for this season is that it's primarily focused on Sabine and her issues with her self-confidence and her family. With each season focused on a different member of the crew, I suspect that the final season will be Hera's story as hers hasn't been covered much yet and because we know that at least Chopper and her will survive until the events of Rogue One. The others may not survive the next season. 

I love this show and I especially like the timeline it's set in as that's the missing area where we don't know what happened between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. If you only watch the movies, you are really missing out on some great stories that really fill in the gaps that the movie hasn't covered or had time for. Some of them are pretty epic like Ahsoka vs. Vader and the final showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul and fans of the saga will love it. The animation is fantastic and this show does an incredible job of making it look and sound like the Star Wars movies that we all know and love. You don't need to see "The Clone Wars" before watching this, but both series are highly recommended!
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
This 1080p presentation is excellent especially compared to the television broadcast. The colors are brighter, the picture is sharper, and my only complaint is the somewhat jarring cut from where the commercials were originally cut in. I would have preferred for them to make it seamless.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
"Star Wars: Rebels'" DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is pretty good but it's somewhat muted for some reason. I don't remember the previous seasons sound mix sounding so quiet. Not only does it lessen the impact of the show, but when the episodes end and return to the main menu, the music on the menu sounds abnormally loud in comparison. Dialogue is clear and the music interweaves with the sound effects and dialogue well, but this mix should have had a lot more power to it.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
There's a decent amount of extras included that are spread out across the three discs. 
Here's the extras listed by disc:

Disc 1
  • Rebels Recon (51:26) – An in-house look behind the scenes with the cast and crew in 19 entertaining and information-packed episode recaps that's spread across the discs to follow the episodes included. There’s a “Play All” option, or you can watch them all individually.
    • Inside “Steps Into Shadow” (8:08)
    • Inside “The Holocrons of Fate” (7:39)
    • Inside “The Antilles Extraction” (6:24)
    • Inside “Hera’s Heroes” (7:34)
    • Inside “The Last Battle” (7:24)
    • Inside “Imperial Supercommandos (7:25)
    • Inside “Iron Squadron” (6:49)
Disc 2
  • Audio Commentaries:
    • “Trials of the Darksaber” (22:06) – Commentary by Executive Producer Dave Filoni
    • “Legacy of Mandalore” (22:06) - Commentary by Dave Filoni, CG Supervisor Joel Aron, Animation Supervisor Keith Kellogg, Art Firector Kilian Plunkett, and Supervising Director Justin Ridge
  • Rebels Recon (46:24) – Here's the second batch that covers the seven episodes on the second disc:
    • Inside “The Wynkahthu Job” (6:10)
    • Inside “An Inside Man” (6:56)
    • Inside “Visions and Voices” (6:17)
    • Inside “Ghosts of Geonosis” (7:43)
    • Inside “Warhead” (6:32)
    • Inside “Trials of the Darksaber” (6:40)
    • Inside “Legacy of Mandalore” (6:02)
Disc 3
  • A Rebel Alliance (6:10) - We learn how the formation of the Rebel Alliance in "Rebels" ties into the Rogue One timeline – and the exciting story possibilities that lie ahead for season 4.
  • Return to Mandalore (6:59) - This explores where Mandalore fits within the Empire’s regime – and whether Sabine can unite her people against the Imperial forces with the assistance of the Darksaber.
  • Thrawn: A Legend Reborn (6:59) - This covers Thrawn’s significance in Star Wars lore, and what the future may hold for this memorable villain. His creator Timothy Zahn also shares his thoughts on the character's portrayal and inclusion.
  • Apprentices to Outcasts: Kenobi and Maul (8:47) - Track two adversaries who’ve clashed throughout Star Wars history, and find out why the time was right to conclude their story.
  • The Original Rebel: Saw Gerrera Returns – Extended (3:19) - This exclusive extended version features Forest Whitaker discussing the character he brings to life in both "Rebels" and Rogue One.
  • Audio Commentaries:
    • “Through Imperial Eyes” (22:06) – Commentary by Dave Filoni, Joel Aron, Keith Kellogg, Kilian Plunkett, and Justin Ridge.
    • “Double Agent Droid” (22:06) – Commentary by Dave Filoni, Joel Aron, Keith Kellogg, Kilian Plunkett, Justin Ridge, and Co-Executive Producer Henry Gilroy.
    • “Twin Suns” (22:06) – Audio Commentary by Dave Filoni.
  • Rebels Recon (44:48) - The final batch of episodes for this disc:
    • Inside “Through Imperial Eyes” (7:49)
    • Inside “Secret Cargo” (6:03)
    • Inside “Double Agent Droid” (6:36)
    • Inside “Twin Suns” (12:16)
    • Inside “Zero Hour” (12:02)
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
"Star Wars Rebels" is a fantastic show and this latest season is its best one yet. I can't wait to see what season will bring. The episodes look great on Blu-ray but the sound could have been more robust. The extras are pretty good though as they do a good job covering the season's highlights. This is an easy show to recommend!

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