Star Wars Rebels has consistently been one of the strongest storylines in the saga's mythology. The structure of each episode, the depth and breadth of the characters, and the formation of what will eventually be the galaxy's answer to the tyranny of the Empire are all featured in Season Three. Throw in the machinations of everyone's favorite Chiss, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and you've got Star Wars animation at its finest. Season Three is a relentless, action-packed tour de force that does not let up, and further escalates the tension in the galaxy, as well as the character arcs of the crewmembers of the Ghost.
This magnitude of awesome deserves an equally satisfying and relevant transference of the spirit of Star Wars Rebels into the Blu-ray. The Season Three viewing experience on Blu-ray does so in spectacular fashion with unique documentaries and commentaries on the breakthrough season. Here's a closer look at some of the Bonus Features.
There are five audio commentaries included on the disk, with CG Supervisor/Lighting & EFX Joel Aron, Animation Supervisor Keith Kellog, Art Director Killian Plunkett, Supervising Director Justin Ridge, and Executive Producer Dave Filoni included. Each of the five commentaries has various members of the lineup weigh in on showcase episodes (with some of the commentaries featuring the entire lineup), and each is a veritable goldmine of information on the series. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to sit in a writer's meeting at Lucasfilm, this may be as close as you'll ever get, and it's marvelous. Filoni goes solo for the commentary on “Twin Suns”, and it's an absolute master class on Star Wars mythology and storytelling. This is worth the price of the Blu-ray alone.
A Rebel Alliance
At just under seven minutes is a feature on the impact of Mon Mothma's appearance in season three, and what it signifies for the overarching mythology. There are some great easter eggs showcasing how connected aspects of Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels really are, as well as some nice hints as to what audiences may be in store for in season four. In addition, when the scenes shift from Star Wars Rebels to Rogue One, it blurs the lines between what is animation and what is CGI for the hit film; that's how good the animation is in this series, and this feature encapsulates this beautifully.
Return to Mandalore
While I highly respect the lore and legacy of Mandalore, it has never been in my Star Wars wheelhouse. However, the feature, “Return to Mandalore”, makes a compelling argument that I need to revisit this portion of the mythology. We witness some of the influences of the Mandalorian culture, get callbacks to Clone Wars, and see how Sabine is an important aspect of where this culture will go in the future. Hearing some of the creators discuss what Mandalore means to them is engaging, as well as informative.
Thrawn: A Legend Reborn
This feature (also at just under seven minutes) shows the formation of the design of Thrawn for Star Wars Rebels, as well as clips of Timothy Zahn's initial reactions to hearing Thrawn's voice for the first time. We also see discussion of how Thrawn made the leap from novels to animation. There is a lot of energy in this one, as well as some clips from the upcoming season. We are promised a lot more of Thrawn in season four, which is fantastic news.
Apprentices to Outcasts: Kenobi and Maul
This is the longest of the Bonus Feature segments (8:47), and my favorite. We see a brief history of the conflict between these two icons of Star Wars, as well as hear from the creators decisions in making this final conflict come to fruition. There is some very brief overlap between this and Filoni's commentary on “Twin Suns”, but anything from the commentary is also needed here, in order to tell this story. We also learn who the Chosen One is, as well as hear in-depth analysis of the final duel. It's a marvelous eight minutes and forty-seven seconds worth of Star Wars behind-the-scenes information and will leave you wanting more featurettes like this. Plus, you see some voice work with Stephen Stanton and Sam Witwer, including the famous, “KENOBI!!!” roar. It's absolutely chilling, in the best possible way.
The Original Rebel: Saw Gerrera Returns-Extended
The title of this one is a bit misleading, as it is the shortest documentary on the Blu-ray. It features a brief interview with Forest Whitaker and shows some clips from Season Four, as well as how Saw Gerrera was brought into Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels. It is nice to once again hear from many of the creators on how/why specific characters are used to tell the story.
Star Wars Rebels Season Four is a fantastic Blu-ray, with entertaining features, insightful commentary, and some of the finest storytelling Star Wars has to offer. Be sure to pick up your copy today, and experience the wonder of this incredible season and series.
Note: Special thanks to Disney Home Video Entertainment for providing an advanced copy to review.
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