Following the format of our staff reviews of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Netflix’s The Witcher, we had each staff member who participated in these unofficial ratings choose the word on the IGN review scale that they felt best reflected their sentiments rather than assigning a number score.
In addition to the three staff review roundups for these tentpole entertainment properties, we also had several members of our team chime in about what they thought about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. These roundup pieces are a bit of an experiment that we will continue tweaking and refining, so we’ll be taking all your feedback left in the comments and continue to produce these throughout the year.
The Mandalorian Concept Art
IGN’s Review, by Laura Prudom
Every show needs time to find its footing in its first season, and The Mandalorian’s roughest edges – its wild shifts in tone, derivative standalone episodes, and clunky dialogue – are arguably exacerbated by the shortened episode order and weekly release schedule, and will hopefully be ironed out now that executive producers Favreau and Filoni have a season under their belts. But when the show is firing on all cylinders – as in its opening and closing run of episodes – it channels all the fun, escapism, and yes, earnest heart (or, if you prefer, occasional cheesiness) of the Original Trilogy. There’s a soft, gooey center hidden under all that Beskar armor, and it makes The Mandalorian one of the most irresistible Star Wars stories we’ve seen in years.
There’s a certain thrill in just having a live-action Star Wars series at all, especially one with the budget and production know-how to make it look like it can and should exist alongside the live-action Star Wars movies. The Mandalorian uses this goodwill to its advantage, and thanks to some really impressive highs in its uneven first season, it ended with what I would consider a solid first entry to an exciting new corner of the galaxy far, far away. In the age of binge-watching and tight, serialized storytelling in our TV dramas, the pacing of The Mandalorian’s first season was its most frustrating aspect. It started off with a great three-episode arc and then getting side-tracked with three more “side-quests” of episodes that offered up the flavor of this universe without adding anything more substantial — not even
the creature that looks like a baby version of Yoda but isn’t a baby or Yoda Baby Yoda’s cuteness was enough to distract me from wondering why Mando was playing pretty fast and loose with keeping it both secret and safe. Fortunately, the final two episodes tied everything back together in a satisfying enough way that it was worth the lackadaisical route it took to get there. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau brought together a talented group in front of and behind the camera (who else is a Deborah Chow fan after this season?) that were elevated by impressive effects and action. As someone who has never ventured far outside the lore of the movies, this was a good gateway to wanting to have a very belated catch up on Clone Wars and Rebels before Season 2 returns, as Filoni smartly pulled elements of both together to grow out the Star Wars canon in exciting new ways.
The Mandalorian is the “Star Wars: 1313” TV show I’ve always wanted. I adore this franchise much like everyone else but one thing I was yearning for was a deeper dive into the seedier, wilder parts of the galaxy that may have only been glazed over in the Skywalker Saga. We definitely get that with Mando and I am here for it. I appreciated the hyper-focus on elements in the Star Wars universe that may have not been so prevalent in the overall Saga. Watching a small army take on an AT-ST made that particular vehicle seem more menacing and dangerous than it’s easily crushed counterparts in Return of the Jedi. And seeing IG-11 kick major ass in every single fight is incredibly cool and helps you imagine the absolute CHAOS that IG-88 must’ve caused during his bounty hunting tenure. All of these expanded looks at characters, places, creatures, and creeds are things that made me really enjoy The Mandalorian a ton (and I guess the main character is alright, too).
The Mandalorian’s first season hit all the right notes for me. The opening pre-title sequence of the finale had me laughing and cheering, and then it somehow kept up that momentum from there. Every episode was appointment viewing for my whole family, and even the couple of weak episodes had adorable Baby Yoda moments and intriguing side characters that set up earned payoff scenes in the season’s final chapters. Mando himself was eminently likable thanks to a great performance by Pedro Pascal (despite us not being able to see his face), and Baby Yoda managed to be both fun and endlessly adorable without crossing the line into seeming cheesy or overwrought. But Taika Waititi’s IG-11 was my favorite character arc of the season. Meanwhile, the setup for Season 2 was both satisfying and a tease without being too cliffhanger-y. Was it flawless? No, certainly not. But it forged its own identity and established a cast of characters I couldn’t wait to spend another 30 or so minutes with each week. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni had a clear vision for this series and they did a tremendous job executing it. The Mandalorian is my favorite Star Wars project of the Disney era so far.
Mando’s first season was an impressive run with flavorful episodes that doubled-down on the genre roots of the original trilogy and it worked incredibly with the show’s framework. The interesting supporting characters felt like they could walk off the set of The Mandalorian, directly onto a Clint Eastwood flick or samurai film with some simple costume changes (IG-88 as the exception). While the show occasionally felt a little cartoony at times (I suspect from Filoni’s previous projects), the story as a whole is a refreshing return to the genre-heavy inspirations of this universe. I would have appreciated a little more restraint with the bounty hunter’s past but the choice didn’t feel wasted. It invited a change within the character and earned character development (rather than continued revelations) is something Star Wars needs. This is not a slam on the new Star Wars trilogy, I’ve enjoyed the latest Star Wars films a lot, but the differences between Lucasfilm’s cinematic endeavors and Jon Favreau’s achievement with The Mandalorian is noteworthy. More like this, Disney. I have spoken.
Well, it certainly was touch and go there for a minute, wasn’t it? After the impressive three-episode opening arc, the Mandalorian just… stopped being good. A serialized bounty hunter show based on a famous clan of mysterious assassins should be an easy hit, but somehow The Mandalorian’s middle episodes managed to be boring (at best) and downright awful (at worst. I’m looking at you Xi’an). The episodes that bookend the first season, however, are fun, interesting, and one of the most original takes on Star Wars that we’ve seen in a long time. Tonally inconsistent, but intriguing nonetheless, The Mandalorian’s first three and last two episodes are essentially a standalone Star Wars film. The titular character is immediately endearing and intimidating and Pedro Pascal does enough with his limited lines to convey a genuine sense of mystery about the character, without alienating the audience or making the character unlikable. The final episodes establish a genuinely menacing antagonist and perfectly set up a second season. The action is awesome, the effects are on par with the Star Wars films, and the writing is great, even if some of the performances are less than stellar. Overall, a promising first season, as long as you forget episodes four through six ever happened.
The Mandalorian is an imperfect but still highly engaging (and welcome) gift from a galaxy far, far away. Anchored by a steely but droll central performance from Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter, this Disney+ series is undeniably bolstered on every level by the inclusion of “Baby Yoda” (I don’t care if that’s not its real name). This adorable little MacGuffin has lent the series far more charm and (fan and critical) goodwill than the episodes themselves always fully earned. But for all its shortcomings — some meandering episodes, inexplicable diversions, distracting cameos, and a narrative point it was late in arriving at — The Mandalorian is nevertheless fun TV and good old fashioned Star Wars escapism. I’m looking forward to where this sci-fi western moseys to next season now that it’s found its footing.
What started off with a bang and intriguing hook surrounding everyone’s favorite new meme machine, baby Yoda, settled into a pretty uneven episodic show. The design and effects are definitely top-notch, the larger budget really shows, and there are some very fun, cool moments, but the character work is lacking. Characters you like don’t get enough to do and everyone else is caught somewhere between cheesy performances driven by half-baked scripts and a complete lack of characterization. For the titular character, it’s difficult enough to identify with an unmoving mask, but other than being a complete badass when he has to be, he seemingly floats aimlessly through the middle of the story making inconsistent choices to fill out an uninspiring set of middle episodes. The show ends on a strong note, however with and some great work by Taika Waititi as both a director and IG-11. And while I was mostly entertained for the bulk of the first season, I’m hoping for a much more consistent and engaging second season.
As a kid, I used to dream about the prospect of a live-action Star Wars series exploring previously unknown corners of this space fantasy universe, and I’m happy to report The Mandalorian mostly lives up to that promise. It does more than any of the sequel or prequel movies to capture that classic, banged-up Star Wars sensibility. It’s set in an especially fascinating time in the saga, taking advantage of that chaotic period where the Empire has fallen but the New Republic hasn’t quite risen up to tamp down the lawlessness in the galaxy’s Outer Rim.
It also builds on the always captivating mythology of Mandalore. Its main hero channels all the badass aura of Boba Fett while boasting a backstory and character arc far more compelling than anything Boba himself ever managed. And from Cara Dune to Baby Yoda to Werner Herzog’s Client, the supporting cast is full of memorable new Star Wars oddballs.
None of this is to say The Mandalorian enjoys a flawless debut in Season 1. The show is simplistic to a fault in its middle episodes, and its reach exceeds its grasp in some of the more technically demanding action sequences. But despite that, The Mandalorian makes a strong argument for the idea that the future of Star Wars should be on the small screen.
Every Modern Star Wars Movie Review
The Mandalorian’s first season is bookended by surprising and action-dense first and last episodes, but as a whole, it’s extremely uneven. The strong start establishes the faceless bounty hunter as a force to be reckoned with but not an unstoppable superhero, and it’s hard not to immediately fall in love with that character you’ve probably had spoiled for you by now. Yet it sputters with Chapters 4, 5, and 6, which detour from the main plot and exploration of the Mandalorian culture to do some largely cliched remakes of Western plots with a coat of Star Wars paint. The characters are dull and hammily acted, there are no real surprises, and the effects are surprisingly weak in places. Worse, the supposedly competent Mandalorian can’t seem to go a single episode without making laughably irresponsible choices with the fugitive he’s protecting, which feels out of character.
The show only recovers when it returns to its overarching plot for the two-part finale in Chapters 7 and 8, including some very Star Wars shootouts and the introduction of the calmly menacing villain behind everything. It even manages to save one more fan-pleasing surprise for the end, giving us something new to look forward to next season.
The Mandalorian does so many things right, it makes it easy to look past any weaker points throughout the first season. The fighting is so crisp and concise – the set design makes you feel as if you are physically there on the desert planets themselves – and having more revealed about the lives of Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars universe, in general, is beyond fantastic. Nods to Star Wars lore are also weaved into the episodes without feeling forced, which is heavily welcome as that can be a tricky summit to balance.
Instantly, I was drawn to Mando’s character as someone who has a heart and actual morals, despite his affiliation to the Guild – he follows his moral compass rather than sinking into what he is “supposed” to do, which makes him that much more human and relatable. Pedro Pascal’s performance of bringing that character to life, along with the obviously adorable Baby Yoda or “The Child” was perfection to me.
I would have liked to see more continuity between episodes – and a larger episode count in general – rather than having a few too many “filler” episodes in one chunk. Episodes 5 and 6 were amusing to me but fell short of that core excitement I had watching the others build up into something relevant to the larger narrative. Overall, Season 1 of The Mandalorian is exactly how I was hoping to experience this brand-new Star Wars series and I only have the utmost trust for Jon Favreau’s vision for Season 2.
It took me a couple of episodes to realize The Mandalorian wasn’t going to be a “deep” show. I was expecting this new live-action Star Wars series to provide some kind of commentary on some aspect of society, even if it was happening in a galaxy far away. But by the end of the second episode, titled The Child, it dawned on me that this wasn’t going to be a thought-provoking meditation on anything. It’s just the adventures of this guy who never takes off his helmet and goes on RPG-like fetch quests and also has to deal with fatherhood.
And that’s where the series became more enjoyable for me. The Mandalorian is not meant to be a challenging show. It’s supposed to go down easy with simple storylines that last roughly 30 minutes. Yes, each episode is connected, but really each one stands on its own, with their own hero’s journey and fun, unique characters. Visually, the show is amazing with Hollywood-level visual effects, many of the practical sets look great, with a tangible, lived-in quality to the props.
If I had to ding the show for anything, it’s for Episode 6, The Prisoner. The set looked kinda cheap; I’m sure they used the same hallway for like four different scenes, just shot from different angles. Anyway, it’s a fun show where everyone involved looks like they’re having fun making it and I had fun watching it.
Season one of The Mandalorian, while obviously not as big budget as the films, was able to do something this new trilogy hasn’t: bring balance to the forces of fandom. There was something for every Star Wars fan to appreciate and I’m pretty sure no childhoods have been ruined in the process.
Now I didn’t really care about the “adventure of the week” stuff and felt like some episodes were meh. But what I do love about the show are the glimpses into the world beyond evil politicians, beyond chosen ones and most importantly, not being taught a lesson about how war profiteering is wrong by characters existing in a billion-dollar franchise called Star Wars. To me, The Mandalorian felt more relaxed and confident than most of the recent movies.
It’s able to explore the Star Wars universe in ways the films cannot. It has the time to build characters you grow to care about. It has the time to let us see the ramifications from the fall of the Empire. But what appreciate most is instead of introducing new creatures and mythologies, Jon Favreau is playing in a sandbox with our favorite established but underdeveloped action figures of days gone. And maybe, just maybe as the show progresses Season two and onward will be able to get a clearer explanation of what the heck the First Order is and how it comes to power?
The Mandalorian is everything we love about Star Wars with none (okay… not “none,” but without lots) of the unnecessary schtick and/or political drudgery. Avoiding the hamfisted familial melodrama that bogged down Episode(s) VIII and IX, it’s recognizable – sometimes to a fault – themes mesh well with its simple character archetypes. The titular Mando’s quick turn from cold, calculating bounty hunter to protective surrogate Baby(Yoda)Daddy was an unexpected twist in the pilot, but not an unwelcome one (seriously, how could you not betray your entire professional code for this thing?). While it isn’t a revolutionary story by any means, it carries the series along as a solid excuse for each episode’s directors to clearly have the time of their lives traipsing through all the nooks and crannies of that galaxy far, far away that they’ve been dreaming about for the last 40 years. The supporting cast is fantastic, from Taika Waititi and Richard Ayoade’s VO appearances as hunter droids to what’s easily the best guest appearance by Werner Herzog since Parks & Rec, plus some truly amazing practical effects work from the production team, it all comes together to make the whole Mando experience a truly special small-screen Star War.
Everyone needs to watch The Mandalorian. I loved telling curious friends and family about this show because you don’t need to know anything about Star Wars to watch it, and that’s a pretty easy way in. Watching the first season on a weekly basis made me fall back in love with “appointment television” viewing, instead of just binging a full show and have it be old news the next day. Every single time the end credits flashed on the screen, I was immediately hit with chills and couldn’t wait to go online and discuss where the Mandalorian and the Child will go to next. The last 2 episodes of Season 1 were an absolute thrill ride and made me more interested in Star Wars lore, which is exactly what a new story in an existing universe should set out to do. The overarching story was very short, with a few of the eight episodes existing merely for world-building than actual storyline progression, but that’s fine! It’s only the first season, and it was so entertaining, especially for a flagship show on a new streaming service and the first-ever live-action Star Wars television series. I’m so excited to see where the show goes next. There’s so much we have yet to experience and discover! Also, I love the “STAR WARS” intro for The Mandalorian, it’s so slick. Have we talked about that yet? Hurry up Season 2!
The Mandalorian told a much, much smaller story than we’re accustomed to from Star Wars. It fit seamlessly into the universe, while still managing to steer clear of the Skywalker Saga. Season 1 was exactly the breath of fresh air we needed as the latest trilogy drew to a close, showing us that Star Wars can keep going even without the Skywalkers. There was a noticeable dip in quality around the middle of the season (which was troubling given its relatively short 8 episode run,) but that dip is minor when it’s bookended by strong episodes. There were some pacing issues that made some of the season’s victories feel at times unearned, which initially turned me off from the series. But as the season carried on and I saw the scale of the story they were telling, I realized that I had been expecting epic Star Wars level stakes, but their story was not an epic, but instead was much more like a Samurai film, with focused events and very local stakes. Overall, Season 1 was a strong introduction, if at times a little rushed and procedural.