The Mandalorian Review
Written By Mikey Sutton • Editor-in-Chief • Owner
One of the best Star Wars films of all time is about a stepfather; an orphan; and a babysitter.
Looked at collectively, the Disney+ original live-action Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian has the scale and length of an epic feature film. Certainly, the budget is there. Disney spares no expense in delivering the spectacular FX that has been a fixture of the Star Wars movies since the beginning in 1977. But Star Wars, when it works, doesn't merely aim for the surface; there are inner emotions and ideas that the franchise touches, which is why it has endured for decades, and The Mandalorian is connecting to a younger generation while simultaneously winning its original converts back.
Showrunner Jon Favreau and co-executive producer Dave Filoni of Rebels fame take Star Wars back to its roots, what fueled the imagination of creator George Lucas to begin with. It's all here: Westerns; World War II movies; adventure serials; the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa; superhero comic books and Prince Valiant and Flash Gordon comic strips. Those ingredients seemed to have been missing from Lucas' prequels, which is probably why they weren't as well-received as the Holy Trilogy. But Favreau and Filoni aren't simply following Lucas' old diet; their affection for the same material is obvious. There's a difference between cooking an old menu and growing the food yourself. It's apparent that the two Fs feasted on the same stuff when they were younger.
The Mandalorian avoids pretension and heads straight to the races. Each episode zooms fairly quickly, echoing the breakneck speed of A New Hope. But when it pauses, there is palpable, breathtaking depth. As a bounty hunter having a crisis of morality, Mando may hide his face but you can see his soul. Pedro Pascal's body movements and empathetic voice convey a range of feelings that many actors can't when fully seen.
Just as weapons maker Tony Stark found his heart in Favreau's first Iron Man movie, Mando discovers his conscience with Baby Yoda. Saving the child's life was simply the beginning of his responsibilities and inner transformation. It's not the cuteness of Baby Yoda that is winning over people; it's how the kid melted Mando's icy heart. He is the kind, bad ass dad that every child dreams of, and his loyalty, strength, and heroic nature will win over any woman. He is Batman and Superman rolled into one. Like the droid IG-11, Mando was originally programmed to kill but is now a nurse and protector. Initially despising droids, Mando finds a kindred spirit in one. The irony is haunting when IG-11 sacrifices himself so Baby Yoda can survive. "There is nothing to be sad about. I have never been alive," IG-11 tells Mando before exploding in a river of lava. This profound statement - worthy of Watchmen-era Alan Moore - can apply to Mando himself. Before Baby Yoda entered his life, he was living like a machine.
Star Wars has always been about family at its core, which it shares with another Disney property, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And The Mandalorian pushes the parental buttons like Star Wars never has before. Mando sees himself in Baby Yoda, the orphaned baby that was rescued by a Mandalorian. Comparisons to the late Kazuo Koike's classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub are undeniable, but like *A New Hope* this series shuffles numerous vintage inspirations and mixes them fresh.
I have spoken.