Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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

Lucasfilm and Disney take us back a long time ago to a galaxy far, far away with "Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" on Blu-ray and DVD. Showrunner Dave Filoni guides multiple writers like George Lucas, Simon Kinberg, and even legendary novelist Timothy Zahn ("Heir to the Empire") in expanding the "Star Wars" universe. Freddie Prinze Jr., Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, and Tiya Sicar are joined by supporting voice actors Ashley Eckstein ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars"), Dee Bradley Baker ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars"), Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Brent Spiner ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader for the sophomore season of the Disney XD series.

As Ezra (Taylor Gray) continues his journey to become a Jedi under Kanan's (Freddie Prinze Jr.) guidance, the crew of the Ghost bands together with a secret rebel cell and ex soldiers from the Clone Wars to join a fledgling alliance to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. But the dark side looms large as Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) dispatches new Inquisitors, setting the stage for a climactic showdown in which terrible truths will be revealed and the lives of our heroes will be changed forever in "Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two".

Both "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels" have fought an uphill battle as some fans of the movies seem resistant in looking at the shows as anything but kiddie cartoons. I can't even stress how wrong they are in this regard. "Rebels", in particular, gets very dark at times and rivals "The Empire Strikes Back" in its approach to the world George Lucas developed.

Showrunner / Executive Producer Dave Filoni truly is the new George Lucas for the "Star Wars" franchise. He spent years being tutored by Lucas on what he felt the right formula or ingredients were to expand the world he created. With Filoni helping to steer the group of writers who script "Rebels", you really can't go wrong. After all, Filoni was trained by the Master and is himself a fan first and foremost.

Season Two of "Star Wars Rebels" does what any successful follow-up should do. It ups the stakes and pits our heroes against even bigger seemingly insurmountable odds. They're tempted by the Dark Side and made to face challenges they were unprepared for. Each one of them walks away from Season Two changed in one way or another, with positive or negative effects to live with.

"Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" continues to bridge the gap between the prequel era and the original trilogy. Characters from both generations find themselves colliding in the middle. New and old villains join forces to foil the small band of freedom fighters. The crew of the Ghost find themselves intertwining with smugglers, ex-patriots, pirates, senators, and even a princess who come (sometimes reluctantly) to their aid in the battle against the Empire.

Bonus material for the Blu-ray of "Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" include some behind-the-scenes featurettes. "From Apprentice To Adversary: Vader Vs. Ahsoka" is exclusive to the Blu-ray edition. "Connecting The Galaxy: 'Rebels' Season 2" and 20 "Rebel Recon" episodes help viewers to explore the making of the series through interviews with the cast and crew and more.

"Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" is rated TV-Y7. It contains violence and frightening and intense scenes. The show goes darker than your usual animated kids shows at times, so parents might want to keep an eye out for scary moments. If you're child watches "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", they should be alright with this show.

The conclusion of Season Two of "Star Wars Rebels" is just as thrilling and world-shattering as anything we see in "The Empire Strikes Back", "Revenge of the Sith", or "The Force Awakens". If you want to increase your knowledge of the "Star Wars" saga or have an insatiable appetite to fill in the gaps between the theatrical releases, "Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" is essential viewing. Don't let the fact that it's animated detract you from taking in its excellent and complex storytelling.

"Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two" is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

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