It’s time to travel back a long time ago to a galaxy far, far away with Andor, the new Star Wars TV series premiering on Disney+. This show stars Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a role he originated in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The final series takes place five years before the events of this film at the height of the Empire’s reign over the galaxy. The first four episodes of this show are a cinematic and delightful look at a franchise in need of a strong creative voice.
Tony Gilroy creates this expansive, immersive look at the Star Wars galaxy. He has already worked as a writer on four of the Bourne films and co-wrote Rogue One. Gilroy and directors Toby Haynes and Susanna White bring a wonderful look to this show. The opening sequence of the series premiere places us on a planet that feels quite original to the franchise. There are images in this sequence that resemble Blade Runner 2049 with incredible production design and masterful lighting. Cinematographers Jonathan Freeman and Adriano Goldman go beyond their standout work on this show with an epic cyberpunk/space aesthetic.
Cassian Andor is introduced to the audience as a lone wolf in search of his sister from Kenari. Andor’s story isn’t rushed, it gives a slower pace to the show that allows everything to breathe. Unfortunately, some of that storytelling doesn’t quite work, as episodes usually don’t end in cliffhangers that leave you wanting to see what’s next. Instead, the series resembles the ongoing show, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, another throwback to a beloved franchise with masterful cinematography that doesn’t exactly have a story that pulls you in without letting go.
Four episodes later, the story is off to a good start, bringing many new characters and faces to the galaxy. It’s a comprehensive look at this series that tells a story we’ve never seen before and never knew we needed. It’s a mature outing for this space opera franchise that focuses less on lightsabers and Jedi and more on a man-on-the-run thriller aesthetic. It’s a tale more grounded in the dark underworld of this series, with themes of empire and rebellion taking a back seat. It’s a brave move for a Star Wars show to prioritize story over acting, and it’s quite effective.
Andor also benefits from the grounded nature of his output. Convenience sets have always been where this series has thrived; the prequels’ over-reliance on CGI and heavy use of The Volume led to some Star Wars projects looking artificial. However, this show uses practical sets and real locations, allowing for a rich and incredible show that feels immersive. It shines through, especially as we see the show’s non-linear structure fill in gaps from Andor’s childhood.
There are a few rough edges here. For example, a story around Mon Mothma seems far removed from the rest of the series, but it is a fascinating series. While shows like The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi feel like they were created to cash in on your nostalgia and love of other Star Wars projects, Andor is mostly devoid of familiar faces. It does not depend on your ability to understand the references in order for you to take advantage of them. Instead, it takes a unique path where you don’t have the Empire as the villain and tells a new story with a full, mature storytelling and solid directing style. This show is the breath of fresh air Star Wars needs.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equals “Excellent.” Although there are a few minor issues, this score means the art serves its purpose and leaves a memorable impact.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a filter for our Andor review.