Let me start off by saying that I was very impressed by how good Andor is. It was every bit as good as what I had hoped for and often exceeded my expectations. The very different, serious and adult approach taken in the series was a gamble that paid off. In fact, no other recent Star Wars film or television series has been able to accomplish what this most recent addition from Disney has managed to do. That it has been effective in giving us a truly unique, exciting Star Wars experience that not only adheres to but also improves upon the original series’ theme! It is realistic, cleverly written, and the full ensemble cast delivers a superb performance. Don’t anticipate a lot of adorable clowning from droids or cuddly extraterrestrial species in order to manage expectations. This is definitely NOT The Mandalorian or Boba Fett. There is also no talk of “the force” or sight of any lightsabers. Instead, what we have is a gripping story that shows us the extent of the grasp of the rule of the Empire. The Star Wars landscape here is a most menacing and depressing place to be. Andor tells the story of how the Empire’s tyranny fueled the growth of the rebellion against it. It’s the story of how the underdog fight against the injustice of a bad ruler.
Andor is the name of the main character, Cassian Andor, a renegade who get recruited to work with the rebel forces because of his natural talents in stealing things from the Empire from under their nose, and a high survival instinct. This character was first introduced in the stand-alone Star Wars movie, Rogue One in 2016. This is an ambitious project that tells the backstory of Andor leading to his role in Rogue One where they stole the blueprints of the Death Star that ended up in the hands of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars movie, A New Beginning in 1977. My understanding is that the series will extend to a Season 2.
What makes Andor stand out from all other Star Wars projects is the level of details treated in this multilevel story. All the characters here are what we normally see as the background one dimensional supporting characters in other Star Wars movies. The rebel fighters, the suffering citizens, the storm troopers, their commanders, the mechanic that repairs the spaceships, and so on. Such characters are often treated like wallpaper and not given any importance to contribute. Here however, each and every character has a distinct personality that stands out. We don’t typically see this in today’s movies or TV shows, which tend to concentrate on the few primary characters. Everyone, from the lead characters to the supporting cast members, projects a strong identity and consistently has something fascinating to say. Diego Luna is very good in the title role and he is supported by so many talented people. Stellan Skarsgard, who portrays a mystery initiator and recruiter for the rebels, is undoubtedly the most well-known actor in the cast. He does a superb performance and gets to deliver some great monologues. Heck he is still great in scenes when he doesn’t get to say anything at all. As Yoda might say … “the force is strong with this one”.
The special effects are not overly used but it is simply great watching all those hardware first introduced in the movies so lovingly recreated in all their glory. With the advancement of the technolgy used by today’s special effects team, these become truly sights and sound to behold. Even though the series does not feature gratuitous or explicit violence, descriptions of the level of cruelty employed are frequently highly vivid enough to make you flinch.
So, all you Star Wars fans out there. Don’t miss Andor!! This is as good as it gets for a Star Wars spin off and you will kick yourself if you miss this!