Star Wars isn’t as special as it once was. Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the results have been a mixed bag. Especially after the dismal experiences of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the franchise started to feel more like a fast food experience than special epics. It’s now too much of a once good thing, which is why I wasn’t too pumped about the long-awaited Star Wars show, The Mandalorian. To my delight after finally watching it over a recent weekend, it’s a nice surprise with a fresh enough vision of the familiar.
A More Grounded Star Wars
Similar to Rogue One, The Mandalorian benefits from a boots-on-the-ground approach to the world. It’s not about a huge mythology, making it more focused and streamlined. It’s not “small,” but it has the perfect amount of scope for a Star Wars series. There are some epic images and maybe some of the coolest in the Star Wars franchise. The action, in particular, has some of the most grounded and physical action in the franchise. It’s a treat for the eyes, especially for viewers more fond of practical action than CGI.
Style Over Substance
Style over substance isn’t always a bad thing. With the exception of two episodes in the less compelling middle of season one, The Mandalorian entertains with graceful coolness. Directors Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, and Taika Waititi craft some truly awesome images that, especially in Chow’s case, are painterly. Chow and Famuyiwa, who helmed the jailbreak episode, brought completely fresh, new visions to the Star Wars galaxy, which has grown stale on the big screen.
Those named directors did the unexpected when the franchise, especially The Rise of Skywalker and Solo, disappointingly delivered the expected. It’s a franchise made famous by surprises — “Luke, I am your father!” — and yet the franchise has lost its sense of wonder by forgetting to surprise people. It was nice watching The Mandalorian and seeing the unexpected from Star Wars once again, especially from the awfully talented directors who should get their own Star War movies to direct.
Not The Best Drama
When there’s drama on the Disney+ show, admittedly, it’s weak. There are far too many repetitive and redundant flashbacks to The Mandalorian’s (Pedro Pascal) past. Any real drama, like the Mandalorian being tempted to stay in a peaceful village, is kind of lackluster. Even the bond between the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda doesn’t carry much emotional weight. The bond isn’t tight enough. When The Mandalorian does return for a second season this fall, hopefully, the show has more emotional fireworks.
A Good Start
The Mandalorian has so much time to grow. It’s easy to imagine five, six, or more seasons of this show. With the weekly adventures storyline, there’s all sorts of adventures for the Mandalorian to go on. Hopefully, the adventures start to take on greater depth with less of the Mandalorian simply talking about his past out of nowhere and explaining his motivations, which happens far too much in season one. There’s some clunkliness, but what’s good in The Mandalorian is very good.
Werner Herzog and Carl Weathers, in particular, provide great entertainment with their charisma and obvious enthusiasm. They’re endearing, as is most of The Mandalorian. After months of hearing about Baby Yoda, too, here’s a piece of breaking news: I can now confirm he’s adorable as everyone said. The little guy could use more personality or maybe even a voice of his own soon, but what a delightful presence he is in the violent world of The Mandalorian. After finally watching season one of the Disney+ show, it was exciting to see some new faces and elements in the Star Wars galaxy.
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