On November 12th, “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action Star Wars show, premiered alongside the launch of Disney’s long awaited streaming service, Disney+.
Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy might mistake the titular Mandalorian for a certain other armored bounty hunter, but make no mistake, Boba Fett is still being digested by the Sarlacc Pit. Instead, “The Mandalorian” is set five years after “Return of the Jedi” and follows a still unnamed mercenary as he makes his way through a now empire-free galaxy.
In two words, it’s awesome. The writer/producer duo of Jon Faverau and Dave Filoni, each with works like “Iron Man,” “The Lion King,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and “Star Wars Rebels” under their belts, are exceptional, and the show feels just like a classic western. Pedro Pascal, known for his roles in “Game of Thrones” and “Narcos,” plays the leading unnamed mercenary, whom the internet has dubbed ‘Mando,’ and he absolutely nails it.
The pilot episode immediately gives the audience an idea of who Mando is after he effortlessly takes out a group of rival bounty hunters in the first two minutes and freezes their bounty in carbonite, (y’know, like they did to Han Solo). Following a morally grey protagonist is a refreshing change of pace for the Star Wars franchise since they usually feature the ‘good guys'.
Korban O’Brien, a fourth year student at Oregon State University and avid Star Wars fan, compared “The Mandalorian” to one of Filoni’s past works, “Star Wars Rebels.”
“One of my problems with Rebels is that they talk you through everything,” said O’Brien. “In this, if there’s no need for talking, there’s no talking.”
Since Mando doesn’t talk as much as most lead characters, you get to learn about his character primarily through his reactions. In turn, we’re treated to some epic action sequences we wouldn’t see in the films, like Mando scaling a rolling Jawa fortress to retrieve his stolen ship parts. It’s a scene that keeps you on the edge of your seat because you have no idea what to expect when he reaches the top. Is this a character who would massacre the Jawas for vengeance, or would he show them mercy? I’ll let you find out for yourself.
“This show really captures that old Star Wars magic perfectly, from the pacing to the humor to the look and feel of the old films,” wrote Erik Kain in a Forbes review. “I’m so pleasantly surprised at how much I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
As the credits rolled on the premier, I couldn’t get the smile off my face. “The Mandalorian” captures the original essence of Star Wars and brings it back to life with modern day cinematography. It left me feeling like a little kid. Two thumbs up.
I have spoken.
In order to watch “The Mandalorian,” you’ll need a subscription to Disney+, Disney’s new streaming service. Disney+ is built to be the home of all things Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. The app itself is decent enough, but I have to make one thing clear ‒ I hate the interface.
The desktop navigation is archaic (why do I have to click and drag to see more shows?) and the way content is categorized is confusing, but the worst part is there’s no ‘continue watching’ option at the front page. You have to search for what you were watching before and manually select the episode you want to watch. Oh, and good luck if you binged something the night before and forgot where you are, because it doesn’t tell you.
The nasty interface aside, Disney+ has a fantastic catalogue, almost every classic show you can think of is present (Watching Mr. Mosbey go berzerk about running in the lobby never gets old). That being said, there’s not much to keep adult viewers interested.
Any streaming service worth your money offers both legacy and original content, but as of right now Disney+’s original lineup is a one hit wonder. Unless you’re under the age of fourteen or a lifelong “High School Musical” fan, the rest of the originals likely won’t interest you. While there are a number of Marvel and Star Wars projects in development, the scope is still painfully narrow compared to Netflix.
Netflix released “House of Cards,” their first original series, in 2013 to critical acclaim and has released over 850 original series and films across nearly every genre imaginable. Sure, Disney+ can match that in legacy content, but they’ve shot themselves in the foot by using their own brand.
“I'd say for a kid who likes Disney stuff in general, there are some things that may well be of interest,” wrote Linda Holmes in a review for NPR. “For an adult, not much in the haul of originals is a big deal.”
So is Disney+ a bad streaming service? Absolutely not, for the right viewer, it’s all you’ll ever need. For everyone else, you’ll probably get more bang for your buck with Netflix.
"The Mandalorian" streams new episodes every Friday on Disney+.