The Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” wasn’t a surefire success. Coming off poorly received films in the Star Wars franchise, fans were arguably less excited for this series than Disney and Lucasfilm hoped.
Then the first trailer dropped and an audience began to form. Soon after, the first episode dropped and people began flocking to the series. Week by week, due to the allure of “The Child” (or as some say, Baby Yoda) and the storyline with the titular Mando, it started to become a hit series.
Being a Star Wars property, it is more predestined to success than other films and series, but that was no guarantee. Not only is this series a hit with Star Wars fans, it is one of the more critically acclaimed television series of the modern TV landscape.
What does this series do that the few previous Star Wars films could not?
Both Chapter 12 and 13 do a perfect job at showing the difference.
One of the main problems in the sequel series of films was the lack of originality. In the review of Chapter 11, we discussed how “The Mandalorian” does a fantastic job at differentiating the environments, characters and elements involved in action sequences, making each one feel fresh and original.
““The Mandalorian” does a fantastic job at differentiating the environments, characters and elements involved in action sequences, making each one feel fresh and original.”
The sequel trilogy struggled with this. The lightsaber fight scenes feel predictable and limited and the Millennium Falcon’s miraculous flying just doesn’t feel original. That being said, nostalgia — when used properly — can be a great thing, but variation is always more important.
Chapter 12 and 13 both exhibit that originality. Though many familiar things to Star Wars are present in these episodes, “The Mandalorian” yet again creates spectacles that feel new. With masterfully crafted environments and unbelievably realistic special effects, these episodes create sequences that are some of the best Star Wars has ever seen.
Chapter 13 specifically clearly takes inspiration from what inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars 40 plus years ago. The episode very much embodies the mashup of the Western and Samurai film genres that Lucas was inspired by in making “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” back in 1977. With its slow pace, limited dialogue, grounded atmosphere and cinematography, the episode feels like it could have been made back in the original trilogy era.
“With its slow pace, limited dialogue, grounded atmosphere and cinematography, the episode feels like it could have been made back in the original trilogy era.”
This again points out a difference between “The Mandalorian” and the sequel trilogy — the style. Creator of “The Mandalorian” Jon Favreau and Executive Producer Dave Filoni often talk about how they are influenced by what inspired Lucas in making these episodes, such as Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns and Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai films. You can see the influence these pictures have on the series, with some shots being close to identical (although, obviously, the characters are different) to those films.
The sequels, on the other hand, are inspired mostly by other Star Wars movies and tropes. Now “The Mandalorian” takes a lot of influence from the media of Star Wars, but its tone is very much in line with the Western and Samurai genres. The sequels lack that grounded nature that inspired Lucas. The films never seem to slow down and seem to push for spectacle over realism (or at least canon-based realism as these are Star Wars we’re talking about).
These factors are the difference between the sequels and “The Mandalorian” and are a big part of why “The Mandalorian’ has been more critically successful than the sequel series.
That being said, “The Mandalorian” has a long way to go. Its story is far from over, but the plot it is setting forth is quite compelling. This series has a fantastic future ahead of it and there’s no time like the present to start getting into it.
Chapter 12 Rating: 4.70/5
Chapter 13 Rating: 4.75/5
Season Two Rating (Thus Far): 4.49/5