DISCLAIMER: There are *minor* spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to know any of the general plot plus some details in between, I suggest you watch and then come back!
“Bounty Hunting is a Complicated Profession"
The first of most likely many Star Wars shows to come to Disney+ is finally here! The Jon Favreau created The Mandalorian just had its pilot episode (or Chapter as the show calls them) released and I had the pleasure to watch it. I was a little skeptical at first because a streaming-only Star Wars live-action show about a faux Boba Fett (a character I'm not a fan of) didn't sound too thrilling to me. I'm happy to say that the first Chapter at a pretty brisk 40 minutes is a great start to a very promising series that mixes the classic Western feel of the original Star Wars with the high budget, visual effects and action-heavy Star Wars of modern days.
The Mandalorian is set five years after the defeat of the Empire, and Pedro Pascal stars as the always masked and quiet bounty hunter only known as The Mandalorian (let's call him Manny for now). The episode starts as we see him take out one of his bounties in a terrifically filmed bar fight scene that sets not only the tone of the show as something a little darker, but also our main character as someone that truly means business.
The rest of the episode is fairly standard as it introduces new characters pretty quickly with barely any time to really get a feel for each one. Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, and Taika Waititi all play characters that are introduced in the span of 40 minutes. I felt they should've maybe spent more time on our main character and slowly edged into the side characters in future episodes.
The episode is beautifully shot, with the cinematography helmed by Greig Fraser who also did the cinematography in Rogue One. It contained tons of gorgeous vistas (so many vistas) and not a lot of obvious CGI, which is surprising considering TV shows don't have the best special effects (Game of Thrones is the exception), but I should've figured considering the eight-episode season has a budget of around $120 million dollars. This is still only about half a normal Star Wars movie budget though.
The action is the real highlight of this episode. Besides the awesome bar fight scene at the beginning, the show ends with one of the best shootouts in Star Wars history, and this was where it felt the most like an old Western. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's say the way it's filmed and the look of the sets made me really want this entire show to be just a Western and that's it. I don't want to go to space anymore. Give me some dirty towns, a guy with some armor, and a laser gun and I'll be happy as pie.
Overall, the first episode of The Mandalorian sure doesn't disappoint and ends with a big twist that could potentially be very interesting as it gets fleshed out more in the future episodes. I'm satisfied with this pilot and hope the series fleshes those side characters out and doesn't fall on its face when it comes to the story. Also, Bill Burr is in a future episode. That's enough for me to be excited.