Incumbent upon the success of The Rise of Skywalker, the Star Wars universe is staring at a dormancy period after Disney has fatigued the fanbase with market oversaturation. A spin-off of Bobba Fett was bandied about with James Mangold at the helm but the non-sleeper box office detritus of Solo put that project into limbo. Now, Disney+ has premiered and along with the back catalog (a.k.a. the much fortified “vault” from whence films like Song of the South have gone to wither away in solitary confinement) of Walt’s scions are a few originals. One of which must’ve been begot from that apostatized conceit.
Fans have petitioned Disney and Kathleen Kennedy for Jon Favreau to be the Jek Porkins behind one of the legacy films. That rhapsody may never blossom but they did ensnare him to write the pilot and be the showrunner for The Mandalorian, a streaming, weekly show centered around an enigmatic, intergalactic bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) and his gallivanting adventures across the tundras.
Five years have elapsed since Return of the Jedi in this microcosm and yet the ethereal menace of the Empire hasn’t toned down the xenophobia. The introduction scene to the Mandalorian is a squarely obligatory western trope of the seemingly apotropaic drifter-gunslinger with an ulterior agenda who wanders into a land of hostility (i.e. The barroom-brawl cliche).
Oddly, the scene itself is muted and the PG-TV level violence is suggestive without being invigorating (a portal entrance cleaves a foe in half). Meanwhile, the parcel prisoner, Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) is the loquacious comic relief but his lines are fish-out-of-water, aren’t-extraterrestrial’s-lower-intestines-unorthodox yuk-yuks (“I haven’t evacuated since the equinox.”).
Of course, fans are always hearkening for Easter Eggs and they will probably be paroxysmal over the mention to Life Day and the trophy room of carbonite detainees. Apparently, Mythrol serendipitously prowled down the bowel of the ship so the Mandalorian could conveniently metamorphose him into another bounty.
An example of retrofitting lore to the present narrative is that Mandalorian don’t “take off their helmets” which is contradictory to Jango Fett in the prequels and is predominantly derivative of John Wagner’s 2000 A.D. graphic novels. To be far, brief appearances from elder statesman like Carl Weathers and Werner Herzog almost flutter beyond the video game dynamics of the episode.
Firstly, The Mandalorian, like a game avatar, must haggle a barter system of coins and ingets for an armor upgrade. Before which, The Mandalorian can liberally sift through mission dossiers of criminals for the highest stipend. While Nick Nolte’s raspy vocals are a coup d’etat for Kuiil, the lockjaw animatronics of the lilliputian moisture farmer are extremely vulcanized and inelastic.
Honestly, a 38-minute runtime is too brusque for a series premiere that agglutinates the gap between the trilogies. I wouldn’t say that this preamble is completely rueful. In fact, it is piebald with a few highlights (the Bill Conti-esque score by Ludwig Göransson, Pascal’s Clint Eastwood aloofness and the tantalizing tease of other Yoda-like species) despite a somewhat disjointed start.
Rating: 2.75 of 5