When a Stars Wars spin-off series was announced for Disney+, I remember rolling my eyes; at the time, Solo had been released and plans for a solo Obi Wan Kenobi film was still in the works. And, personally, it was too much. Since Disney had bought the rights to Star Wars in 2012, they have completely sucked the franchise dry. So, when I got Disney+ I was, at first, uninterested in watching the series, named ‘The Mandalorian’, despite the good reception it had received while premiering in America. But I never like to judge something that has received praise without watching it first.
Created and written by Jon Favreau, ‘The Mandalorian’ is an 8-episode series set in the Star Wars universe. After a bounty hunter rescues an alien child from possible experimentation, they go on the run from mercenaries who want it for themselves.
‘The Mandalorian’ is a refreshing, and well-needed, entry for the Star Wars brand.
Right from the start of Episode 1, it’s established that the Mandalorian’s never take their helmets off in front of people. This limits the lead’s (Pedro Pascal) acting, meaning everything he does is through voice acting and body language, and Pascal does this effortlessly. The helmet rule also gives the Mandalorian a sense of mystery and inhumanity. Despite this, episodes like the second and fourth ones, show viewers that he is human and is caring towards other characters, especially Baby Yoda. Flashbacks occasionally show the Mandalorian’s horrific childhood and it’s clear that he only wants to give Yoda a childhood that he never got. This is all a far cry from the only other reference of a bounty hunter we have, which is Bobba Fett.
This series is perfect for someone like me, who had gotten tired of the familiar faces and names in Star Wars. While a couple of characters and references are recognizable from the main franchise, the series separates itself from the main franchise by its setting, music and stories. By setting the series in between the two film trilogies, it means that forces like The Empire and The New Order don’t exist, with some characters cleaning up the mess that The Empire had left behind. Episode two gives us a glimpse of the remaining members of The Empire, and Storm Troopers hiding away in the shadows; they aren’t as feared as they once were. The iconic score also never makes an appearance, something that I’m appreciative of. The score does sound like Star Wars, by using woodwind instruments and drums frequently, but it’s unique at the same time.
The series, at times, is filmed like a Western film, especially with its establishing shots and battle scenes. Given the settings of desert and forest planets, this also blends in seamlessly and, while the battle scenes aren’t frequent (replacing battles for character development), they are fantastically choreographed. It’s clear that, despite the fall of The Empire, the Mandalorian’s are well-trained, and can still be an unstoppable force if they have to be.
The series isn’t without its humour though! Even during battles, the humorous dialogue between the lead and other characters occasionally creeps in and comfortably breaks up tension, when it’s necessary to do so.
If you have not watched ‘The Mandalorian’, I would say watch it, even if the charm of Star Wars has worn off for you. It’s a well-needed entry into the brand that started to get too familiar with reoccurring characters, themes and stories.
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