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First Mandalorian reviews hail quintessential Star Wars story with room for improvement
The Rise of Skywalker is more than a month away from its theatrical release, but that's ok because Star Wars fans are getting their galactic fix today with the pilot episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+.
With the first live-action Star Wars series now available to stream around the world, reviews are pouring onto the internet, and critics are not holding back on what they think about the Jon Favreau-created project.
While The Mandalorian isn't being universally-acclaimed in these first reviews, no one is able to refute the fact that Favreau and his fellow writer and executive producer, Dave Filoni (creator of Clone Wars and Rebels), have pulled off a TV show that can go toe-to-toe in terms of cinematic quality and world-building. Chock full of references to deep-cut Star Wars lore, it's being described as "a mixed bag" that carries a lot of possibility for the iconic science fiction universe that's been steadily chugging along for over four decades.
Of course, this is just the first episode (one of eight, and a second season is already filming), so you can take these lukewarm reactions with a large grain of Mon Calaian salt. There's certainly room to grow and improve if the pilot doesn't fire on all cylinders like you had hoped it would. At the very least, The Mandalorian finally explains how the use restrooms in the world of Star Wars, which is something, right?
Taking place years after 1983's Return of the Jedi, the show follows the thrilling exploits of a lone gunslinger (Pedro Pascal) in the lawless Outer Rim. Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Ming-Na Wen, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi co-star.
Take a minute out of freezing your latest bounty in carbonite and find out what the critics are saying below...
"Through that pilot, the thing that struck me first was how small, relatively speaking, it is. The premiere is still fun and packed with technical marvels that devoted Star Wars fans never could have even fathomed appearing on TV a decade ago. It's just small.The pilot clocks in at less than 40 minutes, which is barely enough time to establish a premise, much less characters. Nearly everything we think we're introduced to in the premiere could be undone in short order." -Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"I enjoy ultra-violent black-humored action epics, and I enjoy stories about emotionally wounded heroes shocked toward nobility by adorable baby creatures ... But the clash of tones in this first episode felt cheap in both directions, striving for moral justifications of thrilling amorality. The Mandalorian really is Disney’s Boba Fett, a mercenary safe enough for kids." -Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
"Someone who doesn’t care for Star Wars likely won’t care for The Mandalorian, but the setup is rooted in enough tropes that its story remains accessible enough to anyone who might be interested. The Mandalorian’s newest, most dangerous mission also brings him face to face with a recognizable and truly unexpected character, one whom should make even the most casual Star Wars fan will raise an 'oh really?' eyebrow. It’s the kind of reveal that indicates that The Mandalorian could have played a crucial role leading up to the events of present-day trilogy, particularly ... Rise of the Skywalker." -Caroline Framke, Variety
"As a bombastic first entry into live-action TV, Mandalorian is a bit of a disappointment. Crafted around a protagonist designed to be obscure (he never removes his helmet, and even his voice is modulated into bland evenness), there's little in the way of an emotional connection in the first episode (no others were made available for review; the second will be released Friday). Like prequel film Rogue One, Mandalorian captures the aesthetics of the Star Wars universe without understanding its heart." -Kelly Lawler, USA Today
"Written and created by Jon Favreau and directed by Star Wars guru Dave Filoni in his first foray into live-action, the episode is not just our introduction to a new time period in Star Wars and a bunch of new characters, it’s a glimpse into what a live-action Star Wars TV show can be. And right off the bat it simply feels right. A little familiar. A little different. Unique, but still Star Wars. There’s no crawl. No big, boisterous musical piece to get things going. Instead, The Mandalorian just drops us off on a planet, with a character, and in about three minutes a giant water slug is biting on a spaceship." -Germain Lussier, Gizmodo
"The premiere episode of the first live-action series in the Star Wars universe is a direct descendant of the big-budget film franchise in both tone and execution. It’s long on impressive special effects and alien shootouts, and short on a fresh story line beyond the usual unwitting hero with a mysterious family tree and a destiny that involves saving the universe (or part of it)." -Lorraine Ali, The Los Angeles Times
"For all the blaster fire, the pace is slow, almost stately. The show takes its time and doesn't care whether you're hooked or not, which is kind of refreshing. There are a handful of attempts to leaven the mood with humor, but they are all brief. For the most part, this show takes itself very seriously." -Chris Taylor, Mashable
"Masterminded by Jon Favreau, the show smoothly introduces us to the dusty frontier worlds and shadowy cantinas the Mandalorian inhabits. We get enough mentions of familiar Star Wars terms and worlds to feel comfortable, but the tone reminds us we're in uncharted territory. There's some subtle use of shaky-cam throughout the episode, and clever use of light and shade to set the mood." -Sean Keane, CNET
"Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are off to a great start with the first-ever live-action Star Wars series. The Mandalorian goes back to a grittier time, both in Star Wars lore and chronology as well as in a more practical effects aspect. You can really feel the many set pieces that are on display in the premiere, from an ice-crusted planet inhabited by ne’er-do-wells (who frequent a dive bar), to a more urban locale resembling Tatooine that’s populated by ne’er-do-wells (who frequent a dive bar), to a mountainous desert setting that also features ne’er-do-wells, though they opt to guard a highly prized bounty target when not chilling at a dive bar. And that’s where The Mandalorian goes from a tale worth telling to a story befitting Star Wars‘ vast mythology." -Dave Trumbore, Collider
"As far as first episodes go, The Mandalorian is a bit of a mixed bag. It manages to set up the ongoing plot of the series, introduce a few key characters, throw in quite a few of the Star Wars nods fans are going to be looking for, and end with a twist that's sure to have viewers talking. However, it does a poor job introducing you to the characters. What's more, this one episode alone expects viewers to soak up a lot of information that, unless you're a diehard Star Wars fan, will seem rather pointless." -Chris E. Hayner, GameSpot
"The Mandalorian accomplishes something that I, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, long thought was impossible, distilling the essence of Star Wars - its limitless possibilities, its spirit of adventure, its ability to be both relatably grounded and utterly fantastical all at once - into a 40-minute, live-action series that fits into the world of the movies like well-worn armor." -Laura Prudom, IGN
"There are things I refuse to spoil about The Mandalorian, since they kick so much ass. There are entire mountains of still shots from the pilot episode alone that cosplayers are going to rely on for generations to come, handed down with reverence. I am a huge sucker for lore, especially Star Wars lore. Friends, there is so much lore here you could choke on it, but then you’ll remember how much the pilot of The Mandalorian kicked ass, and you’ll find a way to survive." -Leigh Kade, Bleeding Cool