“The Mandalorian” Spoiler Free Review – A Disappointing Ride, To Say the Least

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“The Mandalorian” Spoiler Free Review – A Disappointing Ride, To Say the Least

Jonathon Chatham, Staff Writer

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“The Mandalorian” so far has been a disappointing venture. When I went in knowing nothing, I imagined a space epoch of the brutality of the Mandalorian wars 3,600 years before “A New Hope.” Or perhaps, it would be about the epic battles between Jango Fett, leader of the True Mandalorians, and Tor Vizsla, the leader of the Death Watch, in possession of a widely sought-after black lightsaber, right before the “Clone Wars.” Maybe it would be about the Mandalorians’ turn from gallant warriors ruling the galaxy to people at their knees, ravished by the Empire, and then to people who almost entirely live off of bounty hunting, pursued by both the Empire and the Republic. Instead, what I got was a story with a nonsensical character and an animal that acts as almost pure bait for the audience, ruining the joy of Star Wars in the process.

If I were to praise one thing wholly and unequivocally for the series, it has some of the best score I’ve heard in a TV show in an extremely long time. The songs, primarily from the composer Ludwig Göransson, have been fantastic thus far. There is never a time where the music feels out of place. More often than not, the music is noticeable, and greatly increases the value of a scene. There are multiple memorable parts of the show which has had their value greatly helped by the excellent music provided by Göransson.

Another better aspect of this show is the effects. At times, the character colloquially known as ‘Baby Yoda’ almost seems like puppetry; the CGI is just that good. On the other hand, every shot in space looks quite putrid, having an unchanging set of stars just a bit too close to each other. The stars are much too bright and they almost seem cloned throughout the entire sky, as though there is absolutely nothing else in space than stars. In addition, when the only thing on the screen is moving CGI, it feels as if there’s a in frame rate in complete contrast to how fantastic the rest of the show looks.

Further diving into costuming and more physical effects, much of the wardrobe in this show is fantastic. Our main character, referred to in the show as Mando, wears a full suit of Mandalorian armor, so his outfit will likely have to look good. And throughout the show, it looks pretty fantastic in some places, and just okay in others. In a certain battle in episode 2, much of Mando’s armor is destroyed. The way that the costume team pulls this off with just physical effects is fantastic. Star Wars has a long history of fantastic physical effects, since visual ones often were beyond the budget of the Original Trilogy (movies 4-6). But, because the Prequel Trilogy (movies 1-3), Sequel Trilogy (movies 7-9), and the side stories of “Rogue One” and “Solo” used extremely few physical effects, it is great to see a return to what has worked well for the franchise for a long time.

Without delving too deep into the story, everything in this story is either a plot device or bait. When I say that, I mean that nearly every character, story point, or character interaction seems contrived in a way. It’s as if they only exist to move the plot forward or define a character, and don’t fit together in the way that plot points should. Instead of creating a fascinating story, the story just moves along without impact. 

Shot of the character Baby Yoda

In addition, many of the characters in this show feel similarly trite, existing to get one thing done then to disappear from the story. Examples of this come through in multiple episodes of the show, making many of the episodes feel almost soulless. Characters’ actions seem have no use apart from helping or hunting Mando, only to then disappear from Star Wars afterward. And yes, I do think that ‘Baby Yoda’ is glorified bait despite the character’s undeniable cuteness. 

I want this to be a cautionary review, not an outright hateful one. I still really like this show, despite its various flaws, and while I do truly do believe this series could’ve been so much better, this show isn’t bad by really any stretch of the imagination. There is no better word to express my feelings for this show other than disappointment. It has a lot of what I’ve come to expect from both Disney and Star Wars. It has downright fantastic music, great physical effects, superb costume design that help make Star Wars what it is. However, I can only feel disappointed that the story isn’t better. My problems with “The Mandalorian” mostly arise from the fact that it is just so disappointing that it doesn’t follow the Star Wars “brand” and do something special. It is a fine show, but it isn’t so groundbreaking that it marks a new turn in the Star Wars franchise.