TV Review: The Mandalorian (Season 1, 2019)

The flagship launch title of the Disney+ streaming service, The Mandalorian is a 2019 miniseries based on the guild of bounty hunters seen in the Star Wars franchise. The eight episode run was written by Jon Favreau, and episodes are directed by Dave Filoni, Rick Fumiyawa, Deborah Chow, Taika Waititi and Bryce Dallas Howard. Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, Narcos) portrays the titular bounty hunter, most commonly referred to as ‘Mando’, and he soon finds himself tasked with protecting his quarry, a baby alien. With help and hindrance from various other bounty hunters, soldiers and civilians, Mando continues to prove that bounty hunting is a complicated profession.

+ Pascal is fantastic in voice and body language (assuming it is him under the suit). The same sort of ‘silent badass’ styles are on display from Mando that made Boba Fett so cool, and the non-verbal way Pascal displays his emotions, such as with a head tilt or relaxing of the shoulders, should be commended
+ that little ‘Baby Yoda’ is bloody adorable. Much like recent video game Death Stranding, I went into this thinking I would hate the little baby thing everyone talked about all the time, but truth be told the first time he had a little sippy sip from his cup he melted even my cold, cynical heart
+ my long time personal favourite Gina Carano (as a fighter and an actress) has a supporting role, as do Carl Weathers and Nick Nolte. Carano is a genuine joy, as her physicality is often on full display and Nolte is responsible for some incredible voice work. Carl Weathers gets the sort of ‘will he/won’t he, friendly antagonist but also sort of comedy’ role, and I think it really works against his action hero typecasting
+ in more secondary/cameo style roles, there is a wonderful cast of guest stars, including Clancy Brown, Taiki Waititi, Amy Sedaris, Bull Burr and Brian Posehn among many others, though most are only in a handful of the eight-episode run each. In terms of larger world building, though, I enjoyed their contributions
+ overall, the action is tense and “realistic” (if that’s a term I can even use). There is none of the fancy, overproduced lightsaber crap I hate so much in the main Star Wars films, and there is a more western, military approach to shootouts (or, as mentioned, Carano’s physicality – reow)
+ the ending credits for each episode shows what appears to be concept art for the episode, and some of them are just phenomenal. I’ve already screencapped a few to use as my desktop background

themandalorian_2
Mando (Pedro Pascal) and his charge, ‘Baby Yoda’. Damn that adorable little goblin.

– as much as Baby Yoda is the central plot piece, in most ways the eight episodes are unconnected. Characters of apparent importance show up for one episode, before suddenly never being mentioned again, and in situations where those characters die, you have to think there would be some consequences, which are not mentioned. One episode, in particular is mostly useless, and stands out as the least enjoyable – and from what I read online, I am in the strong majority who think this

> apparently many of the location backgrounds were done using the Unreal Engine 4 video game engine, rather than more ‘cinema friendly’ CGI techniques. I don’t recall ever thinking the backgrounds looked out of place or fake, so that must be considered a win for the technology

Should you watch this show: I’ve made no secret that I don’t like Star Wars as a franchise, but that is mostly due to lightsabers, the Force as a concept and what powers it entails, and all the overproduced ship battles that make no sense in 3D space. Thankfully, little to none of that is present here. In a favourable comparison to The Witcher, I really enjoyed the smaller scale of the story, focusing on one or two major characters and what they do in this grand, post-Empire galaxy far, far away.

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