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Review: The force is strong with ‘The Mandalorian’ by Omar Hamed

Before we delve into ‘The Mandalorian’, I would like to talk shortly about ‘The Ballad of  Buster Scruggs’, the anthology film by the Academy Award winners Ethan and Joel  Coen, or the Coen brothers. Remember the cantina duel fight between the cheerful and witty gunslinger Buster Scruggs and the group of outlaws? Or the saloon scene where a poker player named Joe draws a concealed revolver at Buster for refusing to play poker after seeing the cards mid-game? During these two scenes, the tense upsurges reaches a crescendo, then Buster defeats his opposition. The fact that Buster bests his enemies increases the fondness that we have towards the protagonist. The Coen brothers succeeded in portraying the viciousness and brutality of the American Wild West during the 1870s with not only the story, but set designs, props, and even their dialect. However, there are an innumerable amount of Wild West and gunslinging movies, from action-packed films like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and Clint Eastwood’s  ‘The Man with No Name’ to Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger’.

Which brings us to the main topic, ‘The Mandalorian’, or easily described as the Wild  West-Esque Star Wars series. Jon Favreau, American director and actor starred in movies like ‘Rudy’ and played the role of Happy Hogan in the ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The  Avengers’ trilogies, serves as creator, head writer, and showrunner of the series.   Being the main attraction of the new streaming service Disney Plus and a fine addition to the Star Wars franchise, ‘The Mandalorian’ focuses on the journey of the unnamed, or yet to be revealed, a bounty hunter from the Mandalorian race following the fall of the empire and before the birth of the First Order. Played by Pedro Pascal, who also played the role of Javier Pena in the Netflix biological crime series ‘Narcos’, the fact that the protagonist has no name, or called ‘Mandalorian’ or ‘Mando’ for short, and always has his mask on adds to the mystery behind this expert gunslinger. Speaking of the mask, it is reminiscent of the famous bounty hunters in the Star Wars universe,  Jango and Bobba Fett, whom we now know from the series are constituents of the  Mandalorian race.    

We know Mando’s personality, quite yet savage, and we even knew him better when  Favreau decided to add Blake Snyder’s concept of ‘save the cat’ moment when Mando went back and saved the child from the Imperial remnant, which increased our fondness towards Mando. Although Mando and Buster might have conflicting personalities, Mando being not quite the talker and Buster being the chucklesome singing cowboy, they both have a lot in common. Given their swinging between benevolence and spitefulness, we’re not sure if they’re the hero or the villain, yet we like them the way they are, and that makes them more gripping and interesting.  They’re both thrown in a very competitive and diabolical atmosphere, yet they overcome all obstacles.    

‘The Mandalorian’ could be correlated to Wild West films since the masked bounty hunters no different from American gunslingers. In fact, it could easily be described as the amalgamation between Star Wars and The American Frontier, just substituting revolvers with blasters, states with planets, horses with landspeeders, and saloons with Mos Eisley Cantina. Some events even happened on the planet of Tatooine, a  harsh desert biome notoriously known for smugglers and criminals, which visibly corresponds to the Wild West. Furthermore, the Mandalorian theme song that follows him whenever he appears is on point. The lonely solo flute fits his personality as a  person who is reclusive yet deadly when provoked. The flute gives ambiance similar to that of a duel between two outlaws outside a saloon. Then the flute is followed by an orchestra to remind the audience of the Star Wars vibe. Lucasfilm snatched the trend of gunslinging and the Wild West and sprinkled some Star Wars at the top.

Each episode, or chapter, is directed by a different director, which shapes each chapter differently. It is not an anthology series, but at the same time, there is little to no link between each chapter. The running time of each chapter is between 29 to 38  minutes and the chapters are released in weekly installments on Disney Plus, breaking the tradition of binge-watching. The intention of that is to build its own subscriber base since Disney Plus is new to the market and competing with giant streaming services like Netflix and HBO.     It is definitely a golden year for Star Wars fanatics. With ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ just around the corner, people are blessed with a series and a conclusion of the Star Wars trilogy. However, given the series’ excellent reviews, it does not seem that we will be  getting a conclusion any time soon

Written by Omar Hamed

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