The Mandalorian Chapter 1 review


Jason Wessel, Co-Editor

Let me preface this review by explaining my love and excitement for Star Wars. Growing up, I was an avid fan. My collection of posters, movies, books, LEGOs, and toy lightsabers rivaled most other nerds; however, I admit The Mandalorian flew under my radar. But with the Disney+ hype in full effect, I had to tune in. As a side note, I don’t think Disney+ is worth paying for unless you have some specific titles you’re hankering for. Going into The Mandalorian, I tried to fly blind. I went in seeing only the teaser and having a vague understanding that it was billed as a darker and grittier Star Wars series set after the fall of the empire. 

The first impression is exciting. The costume and set design are pretty much what you’d expect from a flagship series funded by Disney: amazing. Characters look entirely authentic, but they don’t quite feel authentic. Nonetheless, The Mandalorian’s pilot inspires a lot of confidence in a nerd’s heart; Disney’s clearly committing to this series, and it shows. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. 

The dialogue, voice acting, and soundtrack all left much to be desired. Thankfully, the show will feature different directors helming episodes over the season, making some of the issues bound to change. The question is, how much? It stands to reason that the dialogue quality will vary, but the voice acting and soundtrack are two sore spots that may not improve. Pedro Pascal, playing the unknown lead Mandalorian, has acting chops, but they don’t get far when covered by a mask. It also doesn’t help that nearly all of his lines were delivered monotonously. Even when his inflection or tone was dynamic, the voice affect from his voice module dampers most intrigue in the scene. His character may be mysterious, but that doesn’t mean he has to be boring. This leaves room for growth.

When you think of a Star Wars soundtrack, you probably think of John Williams’s iconic theme blaring as the bold yellow synopsys scrolls over a starscape. Without rewinding, I can’t recall a single memorable Star Wars song in The Mandalorian’s pilot. Some of the beats were as funky as Salacious Crumb, and they didn’t seem to match the canonical universe. Now I may be nitpicking, but I think with Disney’s full access to the IP there should have been some more classical representation of Star Wars. There weren’t many epic melodies, and I think this tells us more about the rest of the series. Disney is trying something a little bit different this time around.

Star Wars is considered a space opera with heavy emphasis on melodrama, but it didn’t feel much like a space opera at all. Heavy Western undertone, namely the Alamo-esque shootout, cowboy quick-drawing, and beast-taming, made The Mandalorian feel a bit closer to Joss Whedon’s Firefly than Return of the Jedi, but that isn’t really a knock. 

Flaws aside, I do think The Mandalorian is worth a watch and I think anyone with a Disney+ subscription, or friend of someone with a Disney+ subscription, should keep their attention on the series as it grows. There’s still room for improvement, and in the meantime, who can say no to more Star Wars?