Entertainment » Television

The Mandalorian

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 14, 2019
'The Mandalorian'
'The Mandalorian'  

Disney+ has finally launched, and along with it the most anticipated TV show of the year: "The Mandalorian." The first live-action "Star Wars" series, the show — developed and produced by Jon Favreau — is the guinea pig for how the space saga franchise will adapt (and expand) to a smaller medium. The good news is that it does a pretty good job of thrusting "Star Wars" into new arenas while keeping familiar aspects that will please "Star Wars" purists.

The pilot episode is a swift 38 minutes that places the audience smack-dab into the world of the "Mando" bounty hunter simply known as "The Mandalorian." When the story begins we are in an underworld cantina on a snowy planet where The Mandalorian is picking up his latest bounty. Later on, we see that all of his targets are carefully preserved in carbonite and brought to whoever is after them. But after a curious and action-packed opening (complete with a water monster attacking The Mandalorian's ship) The Mandalorian is hired by a mysterious client (Werner Herzog) to find a target for which he is given no information except their location. Usually, his target's image is kept in a puck hologram, but this one is different.

The Mandalorian goes to see a few other characters on his mission to grab his latest bounty, including Kuill (played gruffly by Nick Nolte), a half-man/half-creature character that helps The Mandalorian tame a beast he needs to travel the wastelands. Werner Herzog also shows up as a creepy client he has to deal with, and who will clearly keep popping up throughout the series.

The simple first episode plot follows The Mandalorian to get his target, having shootouts and fights along the way, one amusingly joined in on by another bounty hunter — a robot named IG-11 (Taika Waititi). When the target is revealed, it is something familiar but not an actual character we know. At the same time, it does make you wonder where the show is going and why this character is being targeted. It also might bring in elements we didn't expect such as, maybe, the Force? (I may be stretching, but it certainly is an intriguing development.)

Production design is pretty glorious here, with the vast tundras and landscapes popping your eyes, special effects that look big-budget quality, and set design that is top-notch all around. This looks like a movie, and as much as I worried it wouldn't, it does feel like "Star Wars." Not so much in the vein of, maybe, "Empire" or "Jedi," but more like "A New Hope," which played things a bit more seriously while dazzling us with worlds we had never seen before.

The actors are all good, but since The Mandalorian never takes off his helmet, anyone could be under that mask. (I half wondered if they filmed the pilot with a stunt man and added his voice later.) Hopefully Pascal — a highly charismatic actor — will reveal himself so we can get more of a character out of him, but for now, Disney and Lucasfilm have given us a terrific and intriguing start to the next chapter of the "Star Wars" franchise.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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