Chapter 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Chapter 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Chapter 3 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Chapter 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Chapter 5 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Chapter 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Chapter 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Chapter 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
I have a real love/hate relationship with Star Wars. I grew up with the original films, went to the cinema on day 1 for the prequels and my enthusiasm with the series has swung like a pendulum between mild interest and outright apathy. Like it or not, The Last Jedi has been the defining film of this generation, effectively splitting the fan-base between those who loved the new, wacky direction and those who outright hated it. I fall into the latter category.
When Disney+ announced they’d be launching a series revolving around the bounty hunters of old, I genuinely wasn’t that excited. Having seen the direction of the new films I didn’t have a lot of faith that the House Of Mouse would pull off a compelling series with enough foresight to write out a plot beforehand, given the hasty way they jumped into the new trilogy of films.
In a way, The Mandalorian is a series of two halves. On the one hand, the nostalgic hits, visual effects and general aesthetic lives and breathes that Star Wars vibe which few shows and films have managed to achieve since the original trilogy. On the other, The Mandalorian loses sight of its overarching story and plot line, salvaging its own flaws thanks to a lot of slick action and expensive set pieces.
The story itself revolves around Mando, a bounty hunter tasked with tracking down lucrative cargo on a remote planet. Once there, he discovers the adorable baby Yoda and finds his own moral compass skewed and unable to complete the hit. Unfortunately, Mando’s fellow bounty hunting brethren don’t take too kindly to this betrayal and begin hunting him down while our protagonist flies off into space and winds up on solo adventures with baby Yoda for episode-of-the-week cases. This continues through until the final few episodes that bring things back to the early-season serialized style.
It’s a tonally jarring idea and something that comes out of left-field too, especially after the opening trio of exciting episodes. Given that there’s no scenes here to suggest the stand-alone episodes are tied back into the overarching plot, these episodes feel disjointed and ultimately frustrate fans who went into this expecting a continuation of the serialized style. The series also relies far too heavily on deus ex machina most episodes, with the stand-alone ones in particular leaning heavily on this.
Don’t get me wrong, the series does a great job with the time it has to play with but with each episode clocking in at a little under 30 minutes, aside from a few exceptions there just doesn’t feel like there’s enough run-time to let things breathe. Set pieces are rushed, several character deaths feel glossed over and the supporting players have little depth to them, feeling like one-dimensional players for long stretches of the season.
Ultimately though, the storytelling and characterisation that made the original trilogy so beloved is not what saves The Mandalorian here, and certainly not what the show will be known for. The clever introduction of baby Yoda is arguably the smartest marketing ploy Disney have pulled off in quite a while. There’s no question it has taken the internet by storm and his force powers, along with plenty of nostalgic trips along the way, will be enough for most people to ignore the plot issues.
Visually, the series is fantastic and does a wonderful job capitalizing on the eye-watering sums available to Disney. Practical effects are used throughout the show, there’s a gritty tone to many of the locations and early on in particular, towns are brimming with life and chock full of Star Wars references. It really does feel like a post-Empire world and with snippets of dialogue referring to the First Order too, there’s a consistency to this timeline that slots in nicely to the Star Wars mythology. The different planets are well designed too, albeit a little empty and small, and seeing the authentic stormtrooper outfits and different nods toward the original 6 films are a really nice touch too.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’re going to watch this regardless of critical consensus. This sci-fi world has always enticed people in and the cultural impact Star Wars has had across the past 40 years or so is testament to the long-standing vision George Lucas had that’s resonated with fans the world over. Mando is the perfect protagonist for this series too, showcasing the bounty hunting world in a family-friendly, exciting way. Although I personally would have preferred a more mature, gritty style, The Mandalorian is an easy show to recommend for adults and kids alike. Its not perfect, but it’s a solid show nonetheless, regardless of its storytelling flaws.
|The Mandalorian is available to watch on Disney+. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|