Thursday, August 31, 2017

Star Wars Rebels: Season Three Blu-Ray Review (Vic's Review)


Note: Spoilers to the season are included in the review.

THE SET-UP
In season three of the hit Disney XD series, the crew of the Ghost faces a new villain: the Empire's Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose strategic genius threatens the entire Rebel Alliance. For Kanan, the mysteries of the Force grow, thanks to a wise old creature with a knowledge of the Light and Dark Side. Ezra explores the Dark Side, with his reckless actions with a Sith Holocron. Finally, a familiar face returns seeking a final showdown against an old nemesis.  

Featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr. (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall (TV’s “Young Justice”) as Hera, Steve Blum (“The Boxtrolls,” “Cowboy Bebop”) as Zeb, Tiya Sircar (“The Good Place,” “Master of None”) as Sabine, Taylor Gray (TV’s “Bucket and Skinner’s Epic Adventures”) as Ezra, Dee Bradley Baker (“American Dad,” “Phineas and Ferb”) as Captain Rex and David Oyelowo (“Selma” and “The Butler”) as Agent Kallus. Executive Producers: Henry Gilroy and Dave Filoni.

EPISODE LIST
Disc 1: 3.1 "Steps Into Shadow, Part I;" 3.2 "Steps Into Shadow, Part II;" 3.3"The Holocrons of Fate;" 3.4 "The Antilles Extraction;" 3.5 "Hera's Heroes," 3.6 "The Last Battle;" 3.7 "Imperial Supercommandos;" and 3.8 "Iron Squadron."

Disc 2: 3.9 "The Wynkahthu Job;" 3.10 "An Inside Man;" 3.11 "Visions and Voices;" 3.12 "Ghosts of Geonosis Part I;" 3.13 "Ghosts of Geonosis Part II;" 3.14 "Warhead;" 3.15 "Trials of the Darksaber;" and 3.16 "Legacy of Mandalore."

Disc 3: 3.17 "Through Imperial Eyes;" 3.18 "Secret Cargo;" 3.19 "Double Agent Droid;" 3.20 "Twin Suns;" 3.21 "Zero Hour Part I;" and 3.22 "Zero Hour Part II."


THE DELIVERY
After the incredible season two finale, hopes among Rebels fans were high going in to season three that the momentum would continue. Those hopes were realized in one word: Thrawn. The classic character from the Timothy Zahn trilogy of novels has long been a fan favorite, and he officially becomes Star Wars canon with his appearance in season three.

Expertly voiced by Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Galen Erso himself, Mads Mikkelsen), Thrawn may not be as imposing as Vader, nor have the feral ferocity of Darth Maul, but his sinister cunning and long-term vision for ending the rebellion makes him one of the more interesting villains in all of Star Wars lore. 

The stakes are much higher for the crew members of the Ghost this season. Kanan has to deal with his lost sight, while he draws a closer connection to the Force. Ezra doesn't quite go fully "dark side" as last season's finale teased, but he certainly becomes more reckless, which constantly puts his friends in danger. Both Hera and Sabine have to face issues from their past. Zeb continues to be Zeb, and even though he does not have a major character arc this season, he plays a vital role in nearly every episode.

Season three also brings us more with the Bendu, a creature with a deep understanding of the entire scope of the Force. Voiced by Tom Baker, as in the Fourth Dr. Who Tom Baker, the Bendu introduces some new aspects to Force mythology, which fans speculate may play a role in future Episode films.


Season three also gives us a nice tie-in to Rogue One, with Forest Whitaker voicing Saw Gerrera in two episodes.We also get to see some familiar names from the Original Trilogy, including a young Wedge and Hobbie, who defect from an Imperial flight school to join the Rebellion. Of course, the cameo highlight of the season is the showdown between Darth Maul and Obi Wan Kenobi, which is far more affecting than I expected it to be.

Rebels seems to have hit its stride this season, with each episode striking an entertaining balance between paying homage to the original films and setting the narrative in an original direction. The season ends with a bang, in an action-packed episode that delivers the goods. It is a fitting end to one of the best seasons in the series' run.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Blu-ray set for season three features a video transfer with excellent detail, giving the 3D animation the depth it deserves, while giving "pop" to the color bursts. There are a number of dark scenes this season, and the Blu-ray has no problem rendering those blacks and grays.

The audio offers an active 5.1 Dolby Digital experience in four different languages, a nice touch that even most films don't do for their home releases. 

SPECIAL FEATURES
Star Wars fans love extras on their Blu-ray sets, and the Rebels set doesn't disappoint, providing lots of behind-the-scenes looks and even a few commentaries. Some of the material was available online, but collecting it here is a nice move.

Extras include:


*"Return To Mandalore" featurette. The planet of Mandalore - homeworld of Sabine - is a setting for an episode this season. The mythology of the Mandalorians, including the Darksaber, is discussed. Running Time: 6:59


*"Thrawn: A Legend Reborn" featurette. The fan favorite returns to the Star Wars universe in season three, and this featurette discusses how the character was designed and realized. Running Time: 6:59

*"Apprentices to Outcasts: Kenobi And Maul" featurette. The legacies of both iconic characters are explored, and their final battle is covered. Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul) and Stephen Stanton (voice of Obi Wan Kenobi) are interviewed. Running Time: 8:47

*"The Original Rebel: Saw Gerrera Returns – Extended" featurette. Forest Whitaker discusses bringing Saw to Rebels. Running Time: 3:19

*Audio Commentaries. Five episodes include commentaries: "Trials of the Darksaber," "Legacy of Mandalore," "Through Imperial Eyes," "Double Agent Droid," and "Twin Suns." Participants in the commentaries include Dave Filoni (Executive Producer), Justin Ridge (Supervising Director), Kilian Plunkett (Art Director), Keith Kellogg (Animation Supervisor) and Joel Aron (CG Supervisor: Lighting & FX).


*"A Rebel Alliance" featurette. The formation of the Rebel Alliance in Rebels, which ties into both Rogue One and the Original Trilogy, is explored in this fantastic featurette. The Rebels cameos featured in Rogue One (both Chopper and The Ghost) are featured here. Running Time: 6:10

*"Rebels Recon" featurettes. Each season three episode includes a "Rebel Recon" featurette as a bonus feature, which were available online through the official Star Wars YouTube channel. The featurettes include some behind-the-scenes looks, interviews, and discussions.

Disc 1 "Rebels Recon" featurettes
"Inside Steps Into Shadow" (Running Time: 8:08), "Inside Holocrons of Fate" (Running Time: 7:39), "Inside The Antilles Extraction" (Running Time: 6:24), "Inside Hera's Heroes" (Running Time: 7:34), "Inside The Last Battle" (Running Time: 7:24), "Inside Imperial Supercommandos" (Running Time: 7:25), and "Inside Iron Squadron" (Running Time: 6:49).

Disc 2 "Rebels Recon" featurettes
"Inside The Wynkahthu Job" (Running Time: 6:10), "Inside An Inside Man" (Running Time: 6:56), "Inside Visions and Voices" (Running Time: 6:17), "Inside Ghosts of Geonosis" (Running Time 7:43), "Inside Warhead" (Running Time: 6:32), "Inside Trials of the Darksaber" (Running Time: 6:40), and "Inside Legacy of Mandalore" (Running Time: 6:02).

Disc 3 "Rebels Recon" featurettes
"Inside Through Imperial Eyes" (Running Time: 7:49), "Inside Secret Cargo" (Running Time: 6:03), "Inside Double Agent Droid" (Running Time: 6:36), "Inside Twin Suns" (Running Time: 12:16), "Inside Zero Hour" (Running Time: 12:02).

*The Last Jedi Trailer. The trailer for the new Star Wars film is included in the "Sneak Peeks" section. Some may not consider it a real bonus feature, but I certainly do.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Rebels Delivers An Epic Villain and a Fantastic Season
Thrawn is a fantastic addition to Star Wars Rebels universe, giving the entire season focus and momentum. Great episodes, a fantastic technical presentation, and a bunch of worthy extras make Rebels Season Three a must-buy for any Star Wars fan. 

BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Rating: TV-Y7
Running Time: 485 minutes (not including bonus)
Aspect Ratio: 1:78 (Widescreen)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Audio Commentaries: Five episode commentaries are included.
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Click here to order Star Wars: Rebels Season Three on Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking here.



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