Star Wars Rebels debuted on Disney XD nearly one year ago and to say expectations were high would be an understatement. After Disney purchased Lucasfilm and cancelled production on the fan-favorite animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars to shift gears to a new series, there was a bit of a rebellion forming within the fan community. Was it worth it?
The general consensus seems to be a resounding “Yes!!!” This Star Wars fan has tried thrice to get into the previous series, each time giving up. I guess the Clone Wars (or any war from the prequel trilogy, for that matter) doesn’t interest me that much. But this series, which takes place before A New Hope, is different. In season 1, we witness a small team of underdogs come together to start the rebellion against the Empire.
Part of what makes Rebels work so well is that it’s easily accessible to any fan of Star Wars. Kids can quickly identify with Ezra, an Aladdin-esque youngling with the predisposed gift of the Force. Adult fans will surely latch onto Kanan, one of the 10,000 Jedi that fought during the Clone Wars and one of the few to make it out alive thanks for Order 66. Kanan takes Ezra under his wing, training him as best as he can while still carrying out their missions. And in case that’s not enough to get an old fan on board, there’s also Darth Vader, Yoda, Grand Mauf Tarkin and a host of other characters from the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and even The Clone Wars.
All thirteen episodes from Season 1 are here, along with the TV movie that started it all. However, fans should note that “Spark of Rebellion” has been split into two episodes rather than allowing it to be played as a feature the way it premiered. If you’re a purist and need it that way, it is available on DVD. However, this version does include the Darth Vader intro that was added when the premiere was rebroadcast on ABC, which was missing from that release.
Star Wars Rebels is presented in its modern TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The HD transfer looks magnificent, as it should coming from an all-digital source. Banding occurs occasionally, which I believe is in the animation source as I remember seeing that issue in the TV broadcast as well. Colors are bold and vivid, blacks are blacker than black. It’s a very satisfying visual experience.
Audio options are English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. No HDMA tracks are offered. The surround mix pleases, as one would expect any Star Wars product should. The score fills the full spectrum of sound, sound effects fly from the rear to the front to enhance your viewing experience.
- Rebels Recon [Disc 1] (36:10) – The first seven episodes of the web series Rebels Recon hosted by Andi Gutierrez are presented individually or with a Play All feature.
- Rebels Recon [Disc 2] (45:02) – The remaining seven episodes of Rebels Recon are available individually or via Play All.
- Rebels Infiltrate Star Wars Celebration [Disc 2] (4:03) – A reel of highlights from Star Wars Rebels presence at the official Star Wars convention, including cosplay, red carpet interviews and the panel that looked ahead to season 2.
- Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide [Disc 2] (22:05) – Kanan leads this recap of all of seasons 1’s adventures
- Rebels Season 2: A Look Ahead[Disc 2] (7:06) – Dave Filoni spills the beans on what we can expect from season 2. A sizzle reel shows some upcoming clips and teases Rex from The Clone Wars joining the team.
- The Machine in the Ghost [Disc 2] (3:02) – The first of four shorts created to promote the series. They all take place before the first episode. In this short, Hara and Kanan disagree on the best way to evade tie fighters.
- Art Attack [Disc 2] (3:02) – The second short features Sabine Wren sneaking into a Republic shipyard to tag their fleet with the Rebel symbol.
- Entanglement [Disc 2] (3:02) – Zeb gets into trouble on his way to the rendezvous point in the third short.
- Property of Ezra Badger [Disc 2] (3:02) – The final short
Packaging & Design
Star Wars Rebels Season 1 is housed in a standard-sized Blu-Ray case with disc holders on the inside of each side (no hinges). The case is housed inside a foil embossed slipcover. Inserts include a Star Wars Rebels specific Disney Movie Rewards code sheet (150 points) and a flier for Disney Movie Club.
The menu features the show’s opening score set to a montage of clips. Neither disc opens with any ads, but a menu option on disc one offers “Sneak Peeks,” which plays ads for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Aladdin Diamond Edition.
Star Wars Rebels makes every effort to please everybody and succeeds on almost all accounts. This 2-disc set presents the full first season with gorgeous picture quality and an array of great extras. The only thing that could have been improved upon would have been to include the option to view the premiere as it originally aired via seamless branching.