‘The Mandalorian’ Series Premiere Review: ‘Star Wars’ Takes New Heights

Times have been interesting for the Star Wars franchise ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. While the new films have been box office hits (with the exception of Solo: A Star Wars Story), fans are somewhat divided on the new era on the big screen. But now, the iconic universe created by George Lucas has officially expanded into the live-action television format with the premiere of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.

Disney Legend Jon Favreau was tapped to develop the first official live-action Star Wars series in The Mandalorian, and based on the first episode of this new show simply titled “Chapter 1,” fans have been blessed with a fresh new story that exudes its own identity separate from what the Skywalker Saga and other entries in the Star Wars universe have previously established. With that being said, this still feels like Star Wars from top to bottom.

Set five years after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Mandalorian follows an anti-hero that works as a bounty hunter beyond the far reaches of the New Republic. While the Rebellion has succeeded over the Empire, the galaxy remains in disarray, which is apparent right off the bat when we first meet our stoic protagonist portrayed with such calculated menace by Pedro Pascal. We first meet The Mandalorian on a typical routine job as a bounty hunter where he exhibits unprecedented skill as a sharp shooter in a Cantina. It is in this opening scene where we see that we are not in Kansas (or Tatooine) anymore.

“Chapter 1” of The Mandalorian was directed by Star Wars animation mastermind Dave Filoni. With his love for the Star Wars franchise apparent thanks to his incredible work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Filoni gets to further explore the depths of the galaxy far, far away in live-action form and he shows some signs of promise as a director with this episode. On a pure visual standpoint, The Mandalorian immediately stands out as one of the most striking entries in the Star Wars franchise thus far, feeling so reverent to the aesthetic of the Original Trilogy while also evoking a more intimate, character-driven western in space that certainly borrows much of its inspiration from Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name.

The first episode of The Mandalorian also exhibits the marriage of practical effects and computer-generated imagery that have been present in the Disney-era of Star Wars films meant to follow the same aesthetic as the Original Trilogy rather than the glossier Prequel Trilogy. The locations The Mandalorian himself explores feel like there’s plenty of history to be found that could easily be explored in the expanded universe of canonical material such as books and video games for hardcore Star Wars fans to enjoy.

Along with Pascal’s titular anti-hero, “Chapter 1” introduces a few new characters in the Star Wars universe portrayed by the likes of Werner Herzog, Carl Weathers, Nick Nolte and Taika Waititi. Each of these remarkable performers leave an impact despite their limited screen time in relation to The Mandalorian himself. In particular, Nolte’s Kuiil, an Ugnaught moisture farmer that The Mandalorian meets with on his journey stands out — much of that is thanks to both Nolte’s memorable performance and the incredible puppeteering that brought the character to life.

Academy Award-winning composer Ludwig Göransson is the latest composer to join the Star Wars franchise following in the footsteps of the irreplaceable John Williams. While Star Wars would not be as iconic without the legendary score from Williams, Göransson manages to produce music that feels wholly unique to The Mandalorian while also fitting in with the motifs and sonic nature of Williams’ music. Göransson’s music helps give The Mandalorian its own sonic identity that truly stands out and is something to look forward to in upcoming episodes.

In particular, “Chapter 1” of The Mandalorian reaches new heights in the final 10 minutes of the episode. Here, The Mandalorian meets the droid IG-11, voiced wonderfully by Waititi in what begins as an enthralling action sequence that soon ends on a note that will certainly leave Star Wars fans speculating on what it may mean for not just the series, but the franchise as a whole. The episode closes on a note that is so surprising, I won’t even dare spoil it here.

While there are seven episodes left on this first season of The Mandalorian, Disney and Lucasfilm can pat themselves on the back for succeeding with such a promising first episode. It’s a remarkable series premiere that will certainly engage Star Wars fans both old and new in the weeks to come. The live-action television format is something that works well for the Star Wars franchise because it allows for more visual immersion into the tangible world that audiences fell in love with when A New Hope hit theaters in 1977.

Grade: A-

New ‘Titans’ Photos Show Off Aqualad And The Original Team

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Titans Aqualad 01DC Universe has released eight brand new images from the upcoming fourth episode of the second season of Titans entitled, "Aqualad".

"Aqualad" will explore the dynamic among Dick Grayson/Robin (Brenton Thwaites), Donna Troy/Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie), Hank Hall/Hawk (Alan Ritchson), Dawn Granger/Dove (Minka Kelly) and Garth/Aqualad (Drew Van Acker) and how four years prior, their tight-knit family dynamic developed only to have their personal feelings bleed more into their work only to be exacerbated by the arrival of a new villain.

These new images give fans a new look at Drew Van Acker as Aqualad as well as a couple of new looks at the original team united together for action. In particular, we get our best look at how the Aqualad suit translates onscreen in live-action form.

You can check out the rest of the gallery for "Aqualad" by clicking "Next".

Here is the official synopsis for season two:

In Season 2, following the aftermath of their encounter with Trigon, Dick reforms the Titans. Under his supervision in their new home at Titans Tower, Rachel, Gar and Jason Todd train together to hone their hero abilities and work together as a team. They are joined by Hank Hall and Dawn Granger aka Hawk and Dove and Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl. Although these original Titans attempt to transition into a regular life, when old enemies resurface everyone must come together to take care of unfinished business. And as this family of old and new Titans – including Conner Kent and Rose Wilson – learn to co-exist, the arrival of Deathstroke brings to light the sins of the old Titans which threaten to tear this new Titans family apart once more.

The series stars Brenton Thwaites as Robin/Nightwing, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, and Ryan Potter as Beast Boy. Newcomers for its sophomore outing include Joshua Orpin and Esai Morales playing Superboy and Deathstroke, respectively, while Chella Man and Chelsea Zhang have also joined the cast as Deathstroke’s children Jericho and Ravager. Natalie Gumede has signed on to play Mercy Graves and Game of Thrones star Iain Glen is on board as Bruce Wayne.

Titans season two is now airing on DC Universe.

Source: DC Universe

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Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic