What I'm Watching: The Mandalorian

star wars-boba fett-holiday special

Bored by real life, and all done with ACNH until construction finishes tomorrow morning… so I wanted to watch something stupid. Signed up for Disney+ trial, even tho I loathe Disney. Gotta remember to cancel this in a week, giving them money is evil.

And they still don't have the last movie yet! I'll have to acquire it by other means. So instead I watch The Mandalorian, but I wanted something even dumber than space-trucker-and-green-monkey.

The musical themes are very obviously "Ennio Morricone but crappy Casio synth and plastic didgeridoo". And all the fake sets look like they're copied from Sergio Leone movies, but Sergio filmed in real dusty badlands, real worn-out mountains, and real poor shithole villages. This is all greenscreen cartoons around the actors, and I don't know why they bother doing anything "real". It's instantly obvious whenever scenes are fake, so all CGI cartoon would've at least been consistent. Or alternately they could've shot in real places for 1% of what this show costs. I fucking hate looking at this.

Sound editing is awful. They shoulda put a mic under Nota Fett's ("Mando" isn't a name, it's like calling a Human "Humie", so I gave him a new name!) helmet, because he is really hard to hear. Good thing for subtitles. They could've just redubbed in studio because you can't see his lips move. Sometimes the sets are live miced, maybe, or the foley is good; other times it's very obvious everything was muted and bad foley was added. I've rarely seen B-movies with sound design this bad.

The "shiny Mandalorians are the best" premise conflicts with Boba Fett, greatest of the Mandalorian bounty hunters, who was painted over in sort of camouflage, battle-scarred green armor over tan fatigues. The helmet really didn't make a lot of sense, you can't possibly see much. Here, Nota Fett quickly gets paid in a couple pounds of shiny steel which is apparently all he wants, and his helmet is even more useless than Boba's. It's especially obvious whenever he pulls out the little telescope, he's got no peripheral vision, no sight lines up or down. He glitters wherever he walks. I know Boba Fett also wore a cape, but it's stupid. "NO CAPES, DAHLING!" as another Disney-owned show (well, that narrows it down) says.

That all said, I like the Armorer and the Mandalorian survivor culture they're showing here. This is actually kind of good Star Wars mythology. I just wish the guy'd get a paint job.

Wernor Herzog is always entertaining. His Rick & Morty appearance gave real gravitas to a dick joke. Here, "The Client" (seriously what is Favreau's problem with giving characters names?) is a smarmy ex-Imperial jackass with filthy Stormtroopers (it's so hard to take them seriously after 40 years of fans cosplaying in white armor), and a whipped dog "doctor".

Carl Weathers as the bounty hunter boss is kind of decent. He's not a good actor, and his not-good acting is all on display here, but it's a thin, slightly menacing role which the guy can pull off. He's also the only black man in the Galaxy. Every other face in this except some villagers in E4 are so white, that vanilla yoghurt gets nervous they're gonna race-war it.

The bounty mission is inane, everyone has a "fob" (what? it's a radio receiver but somehow tracks the target without a transmitter?), and a replacement IG-88 shows up. The droids are as usual played for comedy, which is fine, but "Initiating Self-Destruct Sequence!" over and over isn't funny. Once is funny enough. I half expect a laugh track every time the droids come on.

It eventually gets to a long fight scene, and it's… long. There's a lot of blaster fire to little effect, nobody except Nota Fett can aim. Kills that should be violent and bloody just have people fall down or disintegrate, because Disney wants little kiddies watching imitation spaghetti westerns I guess. I loathe this Disneyfied "clean violence" as if murdering a bunch of people is just sterile fun where they vanish when shot.

An entire scene beat is wasted on figuring out that the giant cannon just used to kill everyone can open a door, too; but that's how all the direction and editing on this goes, very slow, dumb, deliberate. It's a master class in how to lose momentum and my interest by pandering to the slowest-witted children in the audience.

Baby Yoda (never actually named, again) is, as we all know, absurdly cute. Well, all baby muppets are cute! They only turn weird and pervy when they get old.

I just realized. John Favreau heard Clint Eastwood's role called "The Man With No Name" and that's why he doesn't name anyone. Except Fakero never watched these films, or he'd know Clint's character just goes by a nickname of "Joe", "Manco", or "Blondie", but everyone else does have a name.

The shitty-ass Jawas field-stripping a starship are great, and the crawler's a great junkpile tank. They deserve disintegration, of course. But then they have a ridiculous quest for Nota Fett to get his parts back, and the stupid CGI rhino, and hairy egg, and first plot reveal of Baby Yoda's amazing powers we never suspected except of course it looks like Yoda so waving his hand at things gives him telekinesis. Yoda needed hundreds of years of Force sensitivity training, but the baby can do it in just 50 years.

Then he turns in the bounty, has the usual double-cross, triple-cross shootouts, and again I'm disappointed in the clean cartoony violence on top of a show premise that's pretty grimdark. Pick one or the other, this is weird and dissonant.

So finally the show's hit the main plot, presumably "Lone Wolf and Cub" crossed with "The Incredible Hulk", a powerful warrior with a baby going town to town solving local problems. E4 goes right into that, with a beloved peasant village being attacked by Space Orc raiders, mercenaries hired all "Seven Samurai" like. Hey, it's "Angrier Rosie O'Donnell" from Deadpool! She also can't act, but she's the best pro wrestler-turned-actor in years.

Except, they cast the raiders as non-Human, so is it morally justifiable to exterminate them all because they're raiders, or because you're committing xenocide against the Space Orcs? The great village battle is incredibly badly staged, just charging masses, no maneuvering, no cool samurai fights (nobody even has swords, just pointy sticks), and then it's over because the Space Orcs are all dead or scared.

Why were the Space Orcs here? What's their deal? Is this their native planet, that these Human assholes "colonized" and took? Nobody bothers to ask, or tell us even a comforting lie. They're just bad because they look different and steal so they can brew skooma or whatever it's called. Just like Native Americans were "redskin savages" in old westerns and it was Good and Right for honkie cowboys & cavalry to mass-murder them when they fought back, or when they didn't fight back.

The AT-ST artillery is slow and kind of useless, extremely vulnerable as always; Star Wars has no wheels, but they do have some tracked vehicles, imagine an AT-ST on tracks, they could call it a Tank and it wouldn't fall over. I do kind of like the grubby, poorly-maintained, "monster eyes" Space Orc owned look of the thing, and the irony of them using xenophobic Imperial gear.

Well. I might watch a few more of these before my trial ends, but I'm not expecting much good from them. They have no fight choreography, no dramatic sense, it's just recycled stories told badly by an idiot, and it's a moral void. Once in a while there's a scene that makes me go "hey, that was all right!", but it's rare.

I have zero problem with "go hunt down bail jumpers, dead, alive, or frozen" as a job. I love crime dramas where people get beaten or killed in lots of interesting ways. What I do object to is showing sterile violence where it's just fun to shoot people and then you never have to worry about it again, there's no conscience, no blood, nobody has families who miss them or swear vengeance. Zap, dead. I really have a problem with the open xenocide being practiced here.


(And yes, I'm aware of my hypocrisy, in that some of my games have sort of cartoony genocidal combat, only a little blood and dialogue sometimes; but few antagonists in them are "people". Umbra had hostile survivors and insane cultists, and even then killing them lowered your sanity, and killing innocent Humans drove you insane. Perilar has Orcs as part of the Harbinger Lord's armies, which may be genocidal but it's a fair war. PortalWorlds openly casts you as the villain/antihero, a thief & murderer.)