Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Amid growing Imperial oppression on Lothal, the rebels are forced to seek out new allies throughout the galaxy and additional resources to sustain their fight against the Empire. With the help of Ahsoka Tano, the crew of the Ghost bands together with a secret rebel cell and ex-soldiers from the Clone Wars to join a fledgling alliance determined to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. As Ezra continues his journey to become a Jedi under Kanan’s guidance, the threat of the dark side looms large over the fate of the growing rebellion. Darth Vader himself will dispatch new Inquisitors to snuff any spark of resistance, setting the stage for a climactic showdown in which past lives will be revealed, terrible truths will be discovered, and the lives of our heroes will be changed forever.
Show (5 out of 5 stars)
While I was sad that Star Wars: The Clone Wars went away, by the end of the first season of Star Wars: Rebels, I had found another favorite show. Especially, as the season progressed to show old favorites reappear like Tarkin and Darth Vader. It really raised the stakes for the ghost crew who were used to dealing with mostly inept Imperial bureaucrats. Tarkin and Vader's utter ruthlessness took them completely by surprise by the end of season one.

With this new second season, the rebels are still reeling and under even more fire than before as each mission gets harder and harder to pull off, even with the help of Ahsoka Tano, former padawan to Anakin Skywalker. Ahsoka has matured and grown into an even more formidable opponent since she abandoned the Jedi order. While this ragtag group of rebels aren't the Rebellion that we know yet, they are in the beginning stages of that as various rebel cells are joining forces and sharing much needed supplies. 

In fact, most of the story of this season is focused on the rebels stealing, bartering, or getting material and equipment for the cause and Vader's attempts to crush them at every chance. There's also a lot more exploration into their personal histories this season, which really deepens the characters and help explain their motivations and attitudes. Even one of their Imperial adversaries, Kallus is given an episode to show that he isn't just a one dimensional bad guy when he's forced to team up with Zeb when they are forced to depend on each other to survive.

I have to admit, I love this show the most when they reference the previous films or a character from them shows up, as well as when they either clear up a loose plot point or add new ones. For example, we know that Geonosis was the planet where the Death Star was conceived and built nearby and this season we learn that everyone on the planet has been apparently wiped out. Were they eliminated by the Empire to keep the Death Star a secret? According to executive producer/director Dave Filoni, we will get an answer down the road. 

We also see Princess Leia doing her bit to fight the Empire surreptitiously in her youth, Lando is still trying to play all the angles, Darth Maul returns again to try to wreak his vengeance against the Empire and the rest of the universe, and we also get the long awaited showdown between Darth Vader and his former apprentice. It's also great that the show brought back Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones to reprise their roles which adds a lot. If you aren't watching this show you should correct that right away!
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
This 1080p transfer is quite good as expected. The colors are bright and varied and there's a lot of detail shown that lets you notice things that missed when it aired on television. There are some issues with aliasing can be seen throughout the season, but it's not a major issue and doesn't detract from the viewing experience.  The black levels are nice and dark as they should be and there are certain scenes that just look fantastic like the final showdown between Vader and Ahsoka in the forbidding Sith temple.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two has a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is pretty good but it doesn't pack the whallop that the movies did. I was hoping for a lot more power but it's just not there this time. However, that doesn't mean that this isn't a good mix as it is. The dialogue is crystal clear and the sound effects sound great (and are straight from the movies). The music by composer Kevin Kiner comes through nicely.and it's nice that he's blending the themes from the movies with his own score now that the worlds are coming together.

Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The extras are spread out across the three discs with each episode being given a Rebels Recon focus. On disc three you get a couple of extra featurettes that I enjoyed a lot even though they were pretty brief. All of these extras are in high definition.
  • Rebels Recon - Hosted by's Andi Gutierrez, these short looks at the individual episodes are quick and informative. We get to hear from people like director Dave Filoni, producer Simon Kinberg, the cast, and some of the key personnel working behind the scenes to bring the show to life. They talk about the events taking place, the characters and their motivations, and the reasoning behind some of the choices made in the show as well as hints for the future. On disc one the episodes covered are: "The Siege of Lothal," "The Lost Commanders," "Relics of the Old Republic," "Always Two There Are," "Brothers of the Broken Horn," "Wings of the Master," and "Blood Sisters." On disc two there's "'Stealth Strike," "The Future of the Force," "Legacy," "A Princess of Lothal," "The Protector of Concord Dawn," "Legends of the Lasat," "The Call," and "Homecoming." Disc three offers: "The Honorable Ones," "Shroud of Darkness," "The Forgotten Droid," "The Mystery of Chopper Base," and "Twilight of the Apprentice."
  • Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season 2 - This a three and half minute look at how this show connects to the rest of the larger Star Wars mythology. As I said earlier, anything that adds in the original movies is good with me. I hope this show continues in that direction.
  • From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka - At a little over six minutes long, this featurette should have been longer, but I'm glad that they at least devoted an featurette on the long awaited showdown between Anakin/Vader and Ahsoka.  We hear from Dave Filoni and Ashley Eckstein (who voices Ahsoka) and Filoni even gives some hope to fans eager to get the definitive answer to Ahsoka's fate.
    Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
    "Star Wars Rebels" is a great show that's just getting better with each season, I am so glad that the show is focused on the time period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope as there's so much history that we've never seen before and there's a lot of loose threads that need to be tied up too. This Blu-ray offers some very good audio and video quality and the extras are pretty good even though I wish they were more extensive. If you are a Star Wars fan, you should pick this up!

    Order your copy today!

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