Monday, 4 October 2021

The Mandalorian Series 2

Bounty Lines

The Mandalorian Series 2
2020 USA Created by Jon Favreau
Eight episodes.

Warning: Loads of big spoilers.

Well... I’ve been holding off from writing this review for a week or so* because... Series 2 of The Mandalorian was okay. And that’s all. And that’s pretty much the problem here. When I was a kid and later a teenager, Star Wars was a hallmark for something really special (even the two not so good movies, Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith). If there was a new piece of the franchise coming then it was something to be looked forward to. It was something to set your sights on to get you through the year. And then George Lucas sold it to Disney. For, I’m sure, the best of intentions actually but, well, here we are.

The Disney treadmill got under way with a good start on The Force Awakens but then managed to turn out the somewhat ‘out of synch in terms of continuity’ Rogue One and the disastrous The Last Jedi (which looked really great but completely managed to screw the franchise up completely). When we got to the Star Wars film which did capture a lot of the things which made the originals special without being too ‘in awe’ of the lineage, Solo, the film under performed at the box office... something I personally believe was solely to do with stepped up bad timing and the lack of studio recognition as to how badly people thought previous release was (The Last Jedi). The last movie, The Rise Of Skywalker was pretty good but it spent most of it’s time trying to take away the bad taste of The Last Jedi to the point where it just seemed to jump the shark a little and swerve in a bit of the wrong direction.

And then there’s The Mandalorian. The first season followed it’s old TV western formula and managed to have some really good episodes, tempered with some less than stellar ones. Series Two is, I have to say, more consistent in its tone but, alas, somewhat straddles the line between great and terrible and seems, I dunno, just a little bland and mediocre. It’s a nice thing to watch and that’s no bad thing... but it’s not a great thing to watch, I’m sad to say.

The two main highlights which actually got me bothering to tune into this thing again were the return of two key characters from the main film franchise... Bobba Fett and Luke Skywalker. Alas, although Bobba Fett was played by the actor Temuera Morrison, the person who played Bobba’s father Jango Fett in the aforementioned Attack Of The Clones, he doesn’t make too much of an impact here. Granted, he elevates a couple of the episodes with his presence but ultimately, doesn’t serve much purpose other than to draw the audience interest from the original movies and to have a post credits sequence at the end of the last episode where he sets up a new Bobba Fett TV show.

His sudden reappearance from the dead is never really explained (I think it might have been already explained in some cartoons) and, due to some fast thinking from the writers in terms of the way the story goes in the last episode, he never gets to meet Luke Skywalker so Luke can kick his backside for what he did to Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. I’m guessing that would have taken too long out of an episode to write in and so, yeah, they don’t even try to cater for that confrontation.

And as for Luke Skywalker... well. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mark Hamill but this is the worst return of the jedi I could have imagined. They keep his black hood up when he’s lightsabering to death a new squad of battle droids which, frankly, look like they’ve been cribbed from Hammerstein wearing his old war head from The A.B.C Warriors strip in 2000AD comic. Presumably this is to give the effects team less CGI because, when he does reveal his face, they’ve used that technique which is sometimes successful and sometimes not, of making people look like they did decades ago. Alas, here it just looked as fake as the CGI generated Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia from Rogue One. Also, despite ‘The Child’ being an obvious Force user, Luke just seemed somewhat out of place in the world of The Mandalorian, truth be told. At least that’s how it felt to me.

Pedro Pascal and his semi-regular companions were all on top form again but even special guest appearances such as Rosario Dawson and Katee Sackhoff, two very fine actresses, didn’t really distract from the ‘lack of special’. It was a nice and somewhat entertaining show, for sure but... yeah, it feels like Star Wars has really lost its magic since the Disney deal and I do believe that they are going to disprove the old adage “nothing succeeds like excess” next year with a whole host of Star Wars TV shows and another movie which, I suspect, will dilute the brand down even more. I’m trying to stay positive here because Star Wars has been in my life since I was nine years old, when I first saw the original movie in cinemas at the tail end of 1977 but, yeah, it feels like its almost becoming a chore to watch, in some ways. And now that The Child, aka Grogu, looks like he’s departed the series for good (possibly to be slaughtered by Kylo Wren in a decade or so after the setting of this show), it seems to me that the powers that control the current version of the Star Wars universe may be pushing their luck a bit if they are thinking of continuing this for a third season. I guess we’ll see what happens but, believe me, I am sorry I couldn’t be more positive about this latest show. But it just feels like more counterfeit Star Wars to me.

*At time of writing, last year sometime. Sorry, if I could get more excited about it I’d have got it up sooner.

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