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The Mandalorian First Reviews: Episode One Delivers a Thoroughly Satisfying Star Wars Experience

Jon Favreau's space Western kicks off with a bang — bang — bang.

by | November 12, 2019 | Comments

The Mandalorian character poster (Disney+)

Highly-anticipated live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian has finally arrived on Disney+ wowing fans and critics alike — those who were able to watch it anyway. The streaming service experienced some technical difficulties when it first went live, but once viewers were able to get through, the love started pouring in on social media.

Starring Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) as the titular bounty hunter, the series was created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), who serves as showrunner, and also stars Gina Carano, Carl WeathersWerner HerzogNick NolteEmily SwallowTaika Waititi, Giancarlo EspositoOmid Abtahi, and Ming-Na Wen. Episode one was directed by Dave Filoni.

Critics weren’t given advance screeners for the series, so many of them reported on their reporting, noting that they rose early to watch episode one and then file their reviews.

Here’s what the sleepy critics are saying about episode 1 of The Mandalorian.



IS IT GOOD STAR WARS?

This is Star Wars heaven. — Germain Lussier, io9.com

Casual viewers and superfans alike need not despair over The Mandalorian’s many departures; despite its glossy and alien appearance, the first episode suggests the show is vintage Star Wars through and through. — Jeva Lange, The Week

Less concerned with capturing the magic of Star Wars than roughing it up a bit. Even when The Mandalorian lags, its swerve from a more expected route makes it more intriguing as an entryway into a galaxy far, far away. — Caroline Framke, Variety

Happily, the show’s brisk, handsomely produced 39-minute premiere is a great deal of fun, giving fans reason to have a good feeling about this. — Brian Lowry, CNN.com

The Mandalorian may not be risky… but its commitment to simplicity works to its advantage, capturing the spirit of the original series with a good amount of monsters, shootings, and adventures. [Full Review in Spanish] — Jorge Loser, Espinof

A welcome return to ‘old school’ Star Wars style, that I loved watching and was left wanting more. [Full review in Spanish] — Jorge Loser, Espinof

Not that this detracts from the charm of a series that has started in relatively low key fashion but seems certain to leave everyone, and not just Star Wars ultra-diehards, wanting more. — Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“The Mandalorian” pulls no punches. It’s “Star Wars”/Disney right down to its weird sand creatures and blighted outposts, and a safe-but-entertaining start for the media giant’s exploratory mission into a largely untamed universe. — Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times

The Mandalorian is everything fans could have wanted from a live-action Star Wars TV show and with a killer performance from Pedro Pascal, it’s already clear this is going to be appointment viewing each week. — Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

The next challenge: making it feel like Star Wars. Based on its first episode, The Mandalorian rises to that one, too, digging into the seedy underbelly glimpsed in Episode IV‘s cantina scene and throughout Rogue One. — Keith Phipps, New York Magazine/Vulture

The Mandalorian, more than anything Disney has produced outside of Rogue One, actually feels like Star Wars. — Joshua Tyler, Giant Freakin Robot

The Mandalorian is inherently Star Wars, especially when it isn’t. It’s a George Lucas idea with the flair of J.J. Abrams and the bold confidence of Rian Johnson. It’s a unifying rally cry for a franchise that needs it most. — Charlie Ridgely, ComicBook.com


DOES THE CAST DELIVER?

Cara Dune (Gina Carano) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN.
(Photo by Disney+)

At least for a while, the Mandalorian and IG-11 form a bantering, gunfighting duo as the pilot begins aggressively aping Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, which is about as good a thing to echo as I can imagine. — Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

If you love watching a bunch of armored space soldiers shooting at each other with blasters, you’ll have nothing to complain about. But-sans history, motivation, or facial expressions-it rings a bit hollow, lacking the achingly human element. — Sonia Saraiya, Vanity Fair

As you would expect, the leading man, played by Game of Thrones‘ actor Pedro Pascal, is a gargantuan presence. The camera rarely strays from him as he blasts through dozens of enemies. — Jack Shepherd, SFX Magazine

The complexity introduced by Pascal’s performance, Favreau’s writing, and Filoni’s direction is enough to keep us engaged. Let’s just hope the rest of the world firms up around him. In Filoni and Favreau we trust. — Dave Trumbore, Collider


The Mandalorian Key art (Disney+)
(Photo by Disney+)

HOW ARE THE VISUAL EFFECTS?

There’s so much in this show to be excited about, from the lightning-fast fight scenes to large, mushy alien animals. — Emma Stefansky, Thrillist

The biggest problem, at least in this episode, is how oddly stagey it looks and feels. I can’t put my finger on it, but it feels less like a cinematic TV show (or even a conventional TV show) and more like a dress rehearsal of a very expensive play. — Scott Mendelson, Forbes

The Mandalorian leans into the sci-fi Western genre, which is a great atmosphere, even if the montage of our Mandalorian learning to break and ride a corralled alien is kind of dorky. — Matt Miller, Esquire Magazine

Masterminded by Jon Favreau, the show smoothly introduces us to the dusty frontier worlds and shadowy cantinas the Mandalorian inhabits. — Sean Keane, CNET

Thankfully, despite the family-friendly rating, the episode doesn’t shy away from showing how effective and deadly Mando can be, and the action scenes are shot with kinetic energy and rhythm, dropping us right in amid the chaos. — Laura Prudom, IGN Movies

Visually, The Mandalorian looks simply fantastic, filled edge-to-edge with rich set details and cinematic, otherworldly vistas. — Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line

Despite taking place in a universe millions of fans are acquainted with, “Mandalorian” doesn’t spend enough time explaining its own world. Attempts to establish a time and place are clunky. — Kelly Lawler, USA Today


The Mandalorian stormtrooper heads (Disney+)
(Photo by Disney+)

SHOULD WE KEEP WATCHING?

The Mandalorian may not be the next Game of Thrones, and Disney+ may not succeed as a service. But what’s here so far is a good Star Wars TV show, one that takes the existing lore and setting and expands it in a new and exciting way. — Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Everything before the reveal promises a lean Western series carried by a hero who’ll always save the day. As history proves, that’s the basis for pure entertainment, and it’s a promise the show should keep.— Matt Patches,
Polygon

At first glance, The Mandalorian appears to have lived up to its potential. — Kevin Yeoman, ScreenRant

[The premiere is] good enough to keep me watching, forgettable enough that I doubt I’ll want to watch this specific episode again. — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

It’s a convincing hook for a series, but the series premiere was all action and minimal plot. — Paul Dailly, TV Fanatic

Although this first episode has its struggles, these cliffhanger questions and the sense of nostalgia laced throughout may well have you coming back for more. — Alex Haslam, Radio Times

The Mandalorian seems satisfied with its gunfights, aliens, robots and silent hero. And it should be because so far it’s great. — Evan Saathoff, Birth.Movies.Death.

As long as you go into The Mandalorian merely expecting the first chunk of a roughly six-hour film (we don’t know yet how much the length of episodes will vary), all will be good. — Chris Taylor, Mashable

The climax of The Mandalorian premiere cut strangely between misshapen tones, from laser-cannon gundowns to a cute baby melting even the coldest heart. — Darren Franich , Entertainment Weekly


The Mandalorian season 1, episode 1 is now available on Disney+.


Critics Consensus: Though its character building leaves something to be desired, "Chapter 1" is a visual feast with enough sense of adventure to inspire hope that the force may be strong with The Mandalorian.
Synopsis: A Mandalorian bounty hunter tracks a target for a well-paying client.... [More]

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