By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: THE MANDALORIAN (Episodes 1 and 2)

STARRING: Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Nick Nolte and Taiki Wahtiti

EPISODE 1 DIRECTED BY: Dave Filoni

EPISODE 2 DIRECTED BY: Rick Famuyiwa

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Official Synopsis: The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order as we follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

THE REVIEW: Years in the making, Disney finaaly unveiled the first two episodes of the highly anticipated first ever live action Star Wars series which immediately sent the fan base into one mammoth frenzy as the Boba Fett looking protagonist known only as The Mandalorian strutted on screen with blasters at the ready, The series comes from the mind of actor, writer, producer and director Jon Favreau and I only have one thing to say in regards to Favreau. He should be in charge of the whole franchise as his series brings the franchise back to its stripped down bare bones essentials and brings back the days of when Star Wars was simpler just like the old episodic seriels it is based on. The Mandalorian is part sci-fi opera, part western and part samurai movie as our titular bounty hunter roams the lawless wastelands of the universe looking for his next bounty to claim.

Now this review is based on the first two episodes that has since dropped on the Disney+ streaming service and if this is any indication, this is the way for the franchise to go in the future. The first epsode opens up with one awesome bar fight as The Mandalorian takes on a couple of roughnecks who attempt to get in the way of him collecting his prize. The scene is a clear tribute to the by gone days of classic westerns when the lone hero, or should I say lone anti-hero, stands against the forces of evil. It is the perfect scene to open with and it establishes that this bounty hunter is way more kick ass than Boba Fett ever was. This is how Goerge Lucas should have treated that popular character from the get go and his demise in Return Of The Jedi was unceremonial to say the least.

After escaping that situation, The Mandalorian visits Greef Carga, played by Carl Weathers, who is the leader of a guild of bounty hunters. Carga offers the shadowy bounter hunter a special mark that is worth a lot of money to which he jumps at and the story is set in motion. As one charactter states, “Bounty hunting is a complicated profession” and we find that out all to soon.

Things don’t go according to plan of course and The Mandalorian teams up with Kuiil played by a very unreconizable Nick Nolte. Kuiil is a scavneger on his planet and he just wants things to go back to their peaceful ways before the bad guys showed up with the mark. Kuiil helps The Mandalorian get to his target which includes trying to ride one of the planet’s indeginous creatures which serves up some much needed humor for the story.

The Mandalorian finally makes his way to the target and it is heavily guarded by a group of mauraders. Enter another bounty hunter which is a loose cannon droid named IG-11 who strikes up an uneasy alliance with The Mandalorian to take out the threat and recover the goods. What transpires next is one epic firefight in the desert where both bounty hunters lay waste to the threat with the scene culminating with The Mandalorian rocking a huge blaster that is the Star Wars equivelent of a .50 claiber machine gun. It is an awesome moment and one that put a huge and satisfied smile on my face.

This leads us to the big reveal and if you’ve seen the episode you know that the target is none other than a baby Yoda. This reveal is huge as Favreau basically tells the audience that all bets are off with this series and it isn’t going to conform to the norm. This will surely have the collective fanbase talking for years. The ending to the first episode was worth the price of admission alone.

The second episode titled The Child is basically one long narrative as The Mandalorian now known as Mando has one very bad day trying to get the baby Yoda off the planet. The Mandalorian has to contend with scavengers as well as Jawas who have stripped his spaceship apart. The Jawas probe very pesky and give Mando all he can handle. He also battles a very big beast named a Mudhorn that damages his armor. When all seems lost, we discover that the baby has the Force in him and he uses it to help Mando triumph, Kuiil once again helps out the bounty hunter in this episode and and he eventually makes it off the desert planet with baby Yoda in tow. And let me just say that when it comes to the baby Yoda, I have but one word…adorable.

The Mandalorian takes a lot of risks with the Star Wars cannon and for that I commend Favreau for going out on a limb. After the backlash with The Last Jedi, I love that Favreau is basically saying you know what, lets mix it up even more. The show takes place after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of The First Order so the galaxy is in dissaray which is the perfect setting for the series. It plays out like a kick ass Western and it has the look and feel of Star Wars and it even looks like you’re watching a feature film. Disney is shelling out some major cash for these exclusive limited series and it certainly shows.

Let me put people’s fears to rest and say that while watching this series, you know that it is Star Wars. From the music to the visuals, it truly is Star Wars. You see Jawas, as well as Storm Troopers and I love that they have essentially become mercenaries working for scraps after the fall of the Empire. This may not be your daddy’s Star Wars but it is Star Wars none the less.

As The Mandalorian, star Pedro Pascal is never seen as he never removes the iconic helmet. I loved this aspect as one of my gripes with super hero films is that filmmakers feel that we need to see the stars’ faces so most of the time they don’t wear the masks they are supposed to. You hear his voice but it is muffled to under his armor and he is a man of few words. I assume that we will see his face in the show at some point but if we don’t, that’s fine by me. We don’t need to and I feel that we can still sympathize with him even if we don’t see his face. We don’t know anything about him and that works for now. We do know that he is not to be messed with and that he hates droids but other than that, mums the word.

In terms of the supoorting cast, the first two episodes are light as we only see Carl Weathers in one short scene in episode 1. Nick Nolte, who is covered heavily in makeup as he plays Kuiil, is the one co-star that is seen the most. Gina Carano is yet to make an appearance but I assume she will play a role in the third upcoming episode.

One gripe I had with the episodes is that they are short with the pilot episode clocking in around 40 minutes including credits and the second barely budging past 30 minutes. I feel that this is the cause of the huge budget for the series but maybe the remaining episode wil be longer. It is neat though that there are long periods of time that go by without any dialogue. They let the visuals and the action do the talking and it is a refreshing approach to the narrative.

The Mandalorian is the Star Wars story fans who have been there since the beginning, like me, have been craving. It is stripped down and lean and I’m digging the classic High Noon at the edge of the galaxy vibe to it. Pascal’s bounty hunter is a welcome and kick ass addition to the galaxy of Star Wars and I was hooked from the very beginning. Hopefully this story will last longer than one season and we will be able to see many more adventures with this character. The action is first rate, the visuals are jaw dropping and the cinematography is stellar. Favreau has crafted a rare gem in this universe and he has made a case for himself to handle larger feature films in the franchise.

I have been a fan since I was five and let me just say that I have loved all the films, worts and all and with the Disney+ limited series making its way to audiences, this opens up a whole new galaxy of stories just like the novels and comic books did. Why not flip the franchise on its head. That’s how these things stand the test of time. You shake it up and go in different directions with the source material. I’m a fanboy but I’m a fanboy that understands that things change and with this, it’s for the better. Well done Disney…well done. You have made the five year old living inside of me very happy.

VERDICT: 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!!!

The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+ with new episodes dropping every Friday

About The Author: John M Jerva is the owner and editor-in-chief of Action-Flix.com and is a DIE HARD fan of everyhting Action! From the glorious past to the thrilling future, John lives and breathes action! Long live action cinema!

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