There goes almost three since the saga “Star Wars” gave the air of grace in theaters. The film was “The Rise of Skywalker,” which ended, not with fanfare but with noise, the third trilogy in the series. Instead of the celebration that accompanied the first adventure made under Disney’s wing, 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” the feeling was one of relief.
The origin of the slip was the “middle movie”. Many fans (I definitely don’t include myself among them) turned their noses up at “The Last Jedi”, in which director Rian Johnson risked a different path than that suggested by JJ Abrams in the previous production. Ultimate Sin: The series’ great hero, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), returned as a reclusive character, broken down by guilt and failure.
The shell of “Star Wars” presented an unprecedented crack, amplified by the failure of “Han Solo” in 2018. When JJ Abrams returned with “The Rise of Skywalker”, the film felt less like the end of a cycle and more like a patchwork quilt, a piece of entertainment made with patches. The series created by George Lucas seemed, then, destined for the shipyard.
Around that time, the streaming platform Disney + rolled up its sleeves for its launch. The opening shot needed to make an impact, and “Star Wars” branding seemed the obvious choice. “The Mandalorian” premiered in November 2019, the brainchild of filmmaker Jon Favreau. Suddenly, fans of the galaxy far, far away didn’t seem like orphans anymore.
In eight episodes, all the wonder, emotion and sense of adventure that marked the series were back, distributed in an episodic format that did not take long to cover the cinematic sins of the series. “Star Wars”, it seems, had found a new home.
The public success was soon accompanied by critical acclaim. Unlike the characters in the new trilogy, which never really formed a firm connection with their audience, “The Mandalorian” brought a collection of figures that, more than ever, seemed to belong to “Star Wars”.
Not that TV was out of the series’ plans with George Lucas at the helm. In 2009, four years after finishing the prequels with “Revenge of the Sith”, the producer created a writers’ room to write a hundred episodes of what would be a new series, expanding the universe beyond the Dartn Vader of life.
“Star Wars Underground” was supposed to have bounty hunter Boba Fett as an anchor, but Lucas saw the proposal as a delve into the dark corners of the world he had created. The idea stalled because of its astronomical cost, prohibitive for an independent production company like LucasFilm.
In 2012, however, Disney put $4 billion in Lucas’s hands and bought off the production company and all of its products. The new management ignored the filmmaker’s draft script for new films, enlisted JJ Abrams and the rest is history. “The Mandalorian”, however, seemed to come full circle.
Since then, “Star Wars” has existed exclusively on TV, more specifically on Disney+. “The Mandalorian” had an equally feted second season and spawned an honest but lesser impact spin-off series: “The Book of Boba Fett.” “Obi-Wan Kenobi” bridged the gap between TV and the brand’s legacy, but ended up as a compilation of great moments in an uneven season.
Then came “Andor”. I finished watching the last episode of its first season and here I am, still impacted, weaving these lines. There is, in the entire “Star Wars” universe, no product that translates the concept of “star wars” so well as these twelve episodes centered on a supporting character in a movie that didn’t even have the right to be so good.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was the first in a series of anthologies that promised to expand the scope of the brand beyond its main saga. The idea was taken from the opening text of “A New Hope”, the very first film in the saga that changed cinema and pop culture in 1977.
Rather than profiling Jedi Knights, exotic creatures or the mysticism of the Force, “Rogue One” was unapologetically a war movie, in which a reluctant team led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) must steal the Empire’s plans for its super station from the Empire. space fighter, the Death Star. His second-in-command on the mission was a Rebel Alliance captain, spy and assassin Cassian Andor.
I’m not going to talk here about the tragic ending of “Rogue One” (oops…), but it is the context for placing “Andor”, which is set years before the events of the film. The task of creating and producing the series was given to writer and director Tony Gilroy. In the end, that’s what made all the difference.
Gilroy is no stranger to the “Star Wars” universe. He, in fact, had been summoned years before precisely to solve narrative problems faced by director Gareth Edwards in “Rogue One”.
Ultimately, Gilroy rewrote the third act, cut out entire scenes, re-arranged the order of events, and shot what may be the best Darth Vader scene ever. By eliminating the most recognizable elements in “Star Wars”, he has rediscovered the heart of the saga.
“Andor” has that same footprint. It’s an espionage series, a look at the political moves required to create a rebellion within an authoritarian regime. No fantasy, no supernatural powers, no big space battles. A story that isn’t afraid to dig deep into the sacrifices needed to stand up against the Empire.
In twelve episodes, Tony Gilroy and the exceptional team he assembled built the personality of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, no less than exceptional), from his indigenous origin to the reasons that led him to stop being a calculating thief to become someone conscious. of its role in eradicating the harm caused by a military dictatorship.
Rather than noble knights, “Andor” is populated by people who don’t hesitate to pull the trigger in the name of the cause. Starting with Luthen (the spectacular Stellan Skarsgård), one of the architects of the Rebel Alliance who operates under the facade of an antiques dealer. Or Senator Mon Mothma (Geneviene O’Reilly), who slowly realizes the cost of believing in – and financing – a rebellion, without losing her position as Senator of the Empire.
From hat-off supporting actors to weight actors like Forrest Whitaker and Fiona Shaw, there is no wasted character, there is no dispensable narrative arc. Throughout the series, “Andor” shakes up the “Star Wars” universe with intrigue, betrayal, torture, sex and death – it’s definitely a more mature series and not suitable for children. Even with the painstaking production, which brings scope and a certain sense of desolation and defeat to the galaxy, the great asset here is the text. Each line, each resolution, each character movement is a new wonder. Pay attention to the fate of Kino Loy (Andy Serkis, a surprise) and you’ll understand.
LucasFilm is in constant mutation. His next film, “Rogue Squadron,” with director Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”), has been removed from the schedule. Damon Lindelof, Shawn Levy and Kevin Feige would be working on solo films in the “Star Wars” universe, but there is no movement. Taika Waititi, who this year made “Thor: Love & Thunder”, will supposedly be the name behind the next cinematic adventure in the saga. When? Who knows.
Meanwhile the TV is on fire. “Ahsoka” brings adventures of the Jedi created for the animation “The Clone Wars”, which debuted in the flesh in the second season of “The Mandalorian”, defended by Rosario Dawson. Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader, with other roles in the hands of Mary Elisabeth Winstead and Ray Stevenson. premieres next year
Also in 2023 “Skeleton Crew” comes to streaming with Jude Law at the head. “The Acolyte,” set a century before the events of “The Phantom Menace,” began filming last month. The third season of “The Mandalorian” is already with its feet in the door to premiere in February.
It’s curious for “Star Wars” to flourish on TV when we think that one of the inspirations for George Lucas to create “Star Wars” was precisely the serials that rocked the matinees of children and teenagers in movie theaters in the 1930s and 1940s. give us time to savor the nuances of new worlds and characters, and pay even more attention to the story.
As “Andor” shows, “Star Wars” doesn’t necessarily need the visual spectacle to survive. A good text is in the first place. It is no coincidence that the series with Diego Luna is the best product derived from the brand since “The Empire Strikes Back”. Good characters draw us in and take us with them into a good story.
The level of excellence of “Star Wars” was once again raised. Keeping the ball in play is the challenge. All this without needing nonsense like easter eggs or fan service to please a more infantile portion of devotees. Interestingly, what “Andor” has, at the end of its last episode, is a post-credits scene. Believe me: it’s creepy!