If you’ve been salivating for Star Wars: The Force Awakens without an outlet for that excitement, you haven’t watched Star Wars Rebels. Its home on Disney XD allowed some to write it off as just a kids’ show, but Rebels is much more than that. And now, you can devour the first season on Blu-ray.
Star Wars Rebels is set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, before A New Hope, and follows a new cast of characters battling against the Empire during the birth of the Rebel Alliance—the same Rebel Alliance Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo will join to help defeat the Empire.
Since the first episode, Rebels has been doing what fans are excited about in The Force Awakens, which is introduce a slew of new characters and then place them next to classic characters. Ezra, Kanan, Sabine, Hera, Zeb, and Chopper are unique on their own, but they also interact with Lando, C-3PO, Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Yoda and more. Their story is also very engaging and entertaining. Each episode stands on its own, building to a big adventure that concludes the first season and not only informs what we know about Star Wars, but broadens it and creates questions we never knew existed. Plus Rebels just feels like Star Wars. New aliens, worlds, characters, ships, music ... it all fits in incredibly well. It’s everything we hope the future of Star Wars holds.
So the main bulk of the Blu-ray, the 15 episodes making up season one, is fantastic. It’s must-watch content for fans and reason enough to check out the Blu-ray. Each episode has a movie quality look and sound on the Blu-ray too, but that’s pretty much a given.
What’s never a given on releases like this are the special features, and Rebels has a decent selection. There are five main sections, two of which are readily available on YouTube and three that aren’t. The first is Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration, a five minute video of how Star Wars Rebels was on display at the Star Wars convention in Anaheim this past April. Having actually been there, I can say the highlight reel does a wonderful job of capturing the excitement of the event. The big panels, the cosplay, and the red carpet interviews all come together in one of those clips that gives you chills just to think about it.
The second big feature is Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide, which previously aired on TV. It’s a 22 minute recap of the entire first season of the series, narrated by Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) with all new commentary. There’s no real insight here—it’s very straightforward—but if you don’t have six hours to watch the entire season, this is a nice substitute. All of the best moments from the season are here. Plus, the first line just sets the tone wonderfully: “I’m Kanan Jarus, and this is how the crew of The Ghost came to fight with the Rebellion.”
Next, there’s a seven minute tease for Rebels Season 2 (which starts on October 14.) Half of it is the trailer for season 2, which you can watch above, but the rest is executive producer Dave Filoni dropping new info and teases. He says the Inquisitor from season one was the Grand Inquisitor, and this season, we’ll meet some of his underlings. We’ll find out how Darth Vader changes the characters, and we’ll learn more about everyone’s backstory. There are going to be new bounty hunters, Mon Calamari, and an episode about the creation of the B-Wing. We’ll see Kanan’s reaction to Captain Rex (from The Clone Wars) returning and find out if Ahsoka Tano is going to confront her master, Darth Vader. Also, we’re going to meet a top secret new character with “major implications.” All very exciting stuff. (My Hail Mary guess on the last one? Someone from Rogue One.)
So those are the best features on the Star Wars Rebels Blu-ray. The rest are also really good, but you can watch them right now, and could have for the past few months, as they’re on the Star Wars YouTube. They are the Rebels Recon recap shows created by the StarWars.com team after each episode (these have great info in them, by the way) as well as the four Star Wars Rebels short films that premiered before the show started. These are indeed very cool, but, again, here they are.
Whether or not you’re a Star Wars fan who has seen Rebels already, or one just anxiously anticipating The Force Awakens, you’ve got to get this Blu-ray. The episodes themselves contain essential Star Wars canon content with that original trilogy feel, and the extras are a nice cherry on top. Granted, the extras aren’t exceptional, but they’re solid and when the main content is this good, that’s all that matters.