Review: The Mandalorian (seasons 1 & 2, 2019-20)

The Mandalorian (2019) The Mandalorian (2019)

Star Wars goes Kung Fu starring Boy & Bear.

The opening sequence in Episode 5 of Season 2 is breathtaking – and a missing link between the aesthetics of the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy, and the animated series Rebels and The Clone Wars, in a way that neither Rogue One nor Solo quite managed to be.

I brought my own screenshots to this party:

The director of photography on this and many other episodes, Barry Baz Idoine, describes shooting inside the show’s virtual set, ‘The Volume’ (via Variety):

According to Captain Midnight, The Mandalorian “uses world-building far better than most of the recent Star Wars films”, putting a “degree of care… into making [its] universe actually feel alive and cohesive“:

My now-redundant Hot Take™

That same episode didn’t just blow me away – it destroyed my big criticism of the show. For posterity, here it lies:

Baby Yoda in 'The Mandalorian'
Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian

Let’s first establish that The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is not only the best Star Wars film, it’s the most important in introducing a bunch of the paradigms and lore that each subsequent property in the franchise has either picked apart or strip-mined for their entire premise. And one of the biggest introductions in that film: Jedi Master Yoda.

The Mandalorian introduces Baby Yoda. Cute as he may be, Baby Yoda undermines the entire premise of Master Yoda – and one of the central themes of the Star Wars original trilogy – with a wave of his little hand.

In Empire…, Master Yoda teaches Luke Skywalker that training and discipline are required to develop, master, and earn Jedi powers – literally mind over matter. Baby Yoda, however, is just born with them – which suggests Yoda’s entire species is naturally, exceptionally strong with the Force. Being naturally endowed with strong force powers means Yoda never experienced earning them – so who is he to talk about training for them? So Yoda’s story ceases to be about hard work and determination, and instead becomes one about exceptionalism.

And so, with the wave of three little fingers, Baby Yoda single-handedly (literally) takes away the… well, takeaway of Star Wars for generations of fans.

Further Viewing

More on the innovative technology used to shoot The Mandalorianthe virtual set that looks set to replace the green screen, The Volume:

As inspiring as it is sweet: Robert Rodriguez, who directed a pivotal episode in season 2, created a pre-production animatic that is 100% true to his indie film-maker roots:

Shamook saw that uncanny Luke Skywalker in the season 2 finale, decided to deepfake it better, and was subsequently hired by Lucasfilm / Industrial Light and Magic:

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