Taking place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, these new adventures follow a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact – the Kyber Saber –he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and discover the strength of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Season One.
Voice Cast: Nicolas Cantu (upcoming TV movie "Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie") as Rowan; Vanessa Lengies (TV's "Second Chance") as Kordi; Eugene Byrd (TV's "Bones) as Zander; Grey Griffin (Disney Channel's "Miles from Tomorrowland") as Naare and Matthew Wood (Disney XD's "Star Wars Rebels") as RO-GR.
I have to confess, for someone who follows the 'Star Wars' universe pretty closely (and even watches Rebels every week on Disney XD), I had no knowledge of 'LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures' until it was announced for Blu-ray release. This claims to be 'Season One' of an ongoing series, but I honestly don't know if the show was popular enough to warrant a Season Two – and I could find no information about a second season being announced at the time of this review. Does that mean 'The Freemaker Adventures' is completely dismissible? No, not at all...but it's certainly aimed towards the youngsters out there...even more so than 'Rebels'.
Both the online media and the back box cover for this release claim that the events of the story take place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; however, a more accurate description is that this series begins during the events of 'The Empire Strikes Back', as the evacuation of Cloud City is featured in the fourth of this series' 13 episodes. Although a number of familiar faces – Darth Vader, the Emperor, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and a frozen Han Solo (just to name a few) – show up along the way, the story focuses on a set of new characters: two brothers and a sister who salvage the debris of destroyed spaceships and then rebuild them into new ships (keeping with the LEGO theme) and sell them.
The main character here is the younger of the siblings, Rowan, who is a Force-sensitive kid who gets pulled into a quest for missing Kyber crystals across the galaxy. The missing crystals, when all found, can be put together to form the very first lightsaber ever created, the possessor of which will have enormous power, so naturally the Emperor is also seeking to obtain all the pieces. Rowan's companions for this quest are his two older siblings, Zander and Kordi (I guess the writers are fans of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'!); a reprogramed Battle Droid named R0-GR ("Roger, Roger!"); and a "Jedi" named Naare, who we learn in the very first episode is actually working for the Emperor and Darth Vader.
While kids (I would say this series is primarily geared toward the pre-teen crowd) will be drawn in by Rowan's quest for all the crystals, parents won't be too bored thanks to all the nods to the Saga movies that are strewn in throughout these episodes. While a lot of the humor falls flat, I did like the relationship between the Emperor and Darth Vader in this one – with Palpatine showing almost constant disappointment in his disciple (the first episode starts off with him making fun of Vader's "I have you now!" failure during the destruction of the first Death Star). And lest "die-hard" fans think this series gets a little too silly with 'Star Wars' mythos, I can confirm that Disney/Lucasfilm does not consider any of this official canon, so just have fun with it and try not to judge it too harshly.
Not having any young ones of my own, it's hard for me to say if this is the kind of show a child would want to watch over and over or if it would be a one-time viewing for them. For us older Jedi though, this is almost certainly something you're only going to want to view once, as even the bonus materials here (an embarrassingly slim 3 ½ minutes worth) don't warrant a purchase. Regardless, it's worth at least a look for 'Star Wars' fans out there.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
Season One of 'LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures' arrives on Blu-ray in an eco-LITE Vortex case, which houses the two 50GB discs along with a pair of inserts: one containing a code for Disney Movie Rewards points, and the other an ad for the Disney Movie Club. There are no front-loaded trailers on either disc, whose main menu features a montage of footage from the episodes, with menu selections horizontally across the bottom of the screen. Disc One contains the first seven episodes of the season, while Disc Two contains the remaining six episodes, plus bonus materials. Each episode clocks in at 23 minutes.
The keepcase of this release comes housed inside a larger carboard box that holds the case as well as six quarter-sized magnets, five of which feature a character from the series and the sixth showing their spaceship. The box opens with a flap at both the top and the bottom, although you'll need to open the bottom flap to get the magnets out.
The Blu-rays in this release are region-free.
For an animated series – particularly a LEGO one, where you'd expect almost a three-dimensional look – 'The Freemaker Adventures' shows a remarkable lack of depth. I was surprised at how many scenes have a "flat" look to them. The image still looks sharp and I didn't notice any glaring problems with either banding or noise in the episodes, so I can only assume that there's nothing wrong with the transfer and it's just the original animation that's to blame for the lack of depth and "pop" that these episodes provide.
The most appealing part of these episodes visually is the wide range of colors and occassional detail in each one, and while the show does have that "flat" look to it, there's no denying that a lot of work went into the each scene by the creators. I never watched this series when it aired on Disney XD, but I feel confident in saying that, despite the above reservations, this release offers the sharpest version of these episodes you're going to find.
Each episode is presented in its original TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
Once again, Disney/Lucasfilm doesn't seem to put much effort into any of their Star Wars animated releases, giving fans lossy 5.1 English Dolby Digital tracks for each of the episodes contained here. The tracks are far from horrible, but they certainly lack any "oomph", something most would want from a 'Star Wars' presentation – animated or not.
With the above in mind, there's still plenty of use of the surrounds throughout, and despite that the audio is far from aggressive, there are no major technical glitches of which to speak. Dialogue is clear throughout, although primarily regulated to the front center channel. Everything is properly mixed as well, although the mix does seems to be somewhat subdued (you may have to crank up your audio a bit more than usual to get the full surround effect).
In addition to the lossy 5.1 track, Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are available in both Spanish and French. Subtitles are also an option in English, English SDH, Spanish, and French.
Note: All the bonus materials appear on Disc Two of this set.
While this 'Star Wars' animated series from Lucasfilm is geared primarily towards the young Padawans in your family, there's enough "inside" humor here and nods towards the main 'Star Wars' Saga that parents won't be totally bored watching this with their kids. It's not great, but it's worth a look.