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‘Star Wars: Andor’ Review: A Story-Driven Triumph, The Franchise At Its Best

‘Star Wars: Andor’ Review: A Story-Driven Triumph, The Franchise At Its Best

Star Wars: Andor is a triumphant return to form for the franchise. Take a look at our review of the opening four episodes.

Andor is Star Wars at its very best. A compelling and twisting drama that utilises the vast Star Wars universe to elevate what is already an extremely gripping plot. Stellar performances solidify Andor as Disney Plus’ best Star Wars show to date, and fans of Rogue One will not be disappointed by what is a worthy prequel. By exploring new pockets of the Star Wars galaxy, Andor avoids the pitfalls of several other recent franchise entries. We may already know the ending of Cassian Andor’s life, but that doesn’t make his origin story any less gripping. The first four episodes perfectly set up the story that is to come, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Set five years prior to the events of Rogue One, Andor explores the inception of the titular character’s involvement in the Rebellion. Hunted by the Imperial Security Bureau, Andor soon becomes embroiled in a burgeoning revolt against the Empire - one which also brings up secrets from his past.

We had the chance to sit down with Cassian Andor himself, Diego Luna. Check out the interview below.

What struck me most about Andor is the way in which it was approached. This is a series that puts the story and the characters first. Although enjoyable, Disney Plus’ recent Star Wars efforts have succumbed to the pitfalls of catering to fan service. Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book Of Boba Fett relied far too heavily on nostalgia and cameos. Like many, I had a fun time watching both but they weren’t the character studies we were hoping for. To my delight, Andor is exactly that. Instead of thinking about what fans want to see, series creator Tony Gilroy has crafted a series that best serves Cassian Andor and, in doing so, serves fans in the best way possible too.

Andor is a twisting thriller with many faces. There’s a darkness to the series, and it’s not afraid to touch on the topics of political corruption and police brutality. At the heart of the story is, of course, Cassian Andor. A refugee. Balancing fast-paced action-packed shootouts with tense dialogue-driven confrontations, Andor offers a wholly compelling narrative. Andor considers its placement in the Star Wars universe carefully. There’s a brand new droid but it’s not there to tick a merchandising box. The familiar aspects of the Star Wars universe enhance the story and in approaching the project this way, Andor feels like the most authentic Star Wars project in recent years. We’ve finally stepped away from Tatooine, providing us with a chance to explore new planets. Cassian resides on the industrial planet of Ferrix and it’s clear to see how its inhabitants are hardened and forged by the environment's steely reflection of life.

Star Wars: Andor /
Disney Platform Distribution

This incredible consideration of each and every detail is evident throughout the series. Cinematography, costuming, and set design all help shape the story. This isn’t just the most gripping Star Wars show to date, it’s the best looking. Ferrix is an incredible grey planet but where you find people you’ll find warmth, whether it be through bronze-toned clothing or lighting design. You’re reminded of the relationships and bonds that shape and fuel Cassian Andor. It’s a stark contrast to the cold, clinical palettes of the Imperial Security Bureau and Morlana One’s corporate authority. When Cassian does become embroiled in the Rebellion, he’s swept away to the lush green expanses of Aldhani which aesthetically mirrors his birth planet of Fest - a place where Cassian experienced his first brush with the Empire. Coincidence? I think not. There’s a distinct visual language shaping the series.

This quality spills over into the performances. Diego Luna shines in his return to the role of Cassian Andor but what’s so wonderful about this series is that the other characters are just as important. They all helped shape Cassian and have their own roles to play. Fiona Shaw brings a brilliantly steadfast determination to the role of Maarva, whilst Stellan Skarsgård clearly relishes in exploring the chameleon that is Luthen Rael. I was particularly gripped by Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn who is left on an interesting trajectory by the end of episode three, and Adria Arjona’s Bix Caleen certainly holds the ability to become a new fan favourite. I have to mention Genevieve O'Reilly’s return as Mon Mothma whose scenes which examine Star Wars’ gender politics were some of my favourites.

Star Wars: Andor /
Disney Platform Distribution

In terms of pacing, Andor follows in the footsteps of preceding Star Wars series, offering up 30- to 40-minute episodes. It’s a slightly longer series than we’re used to in the Star Wars universe. Andor’s first season runs for 12 episodes but having seen the opening four, I can attest that whilst there is never a dull moment, there is also plenty of story left to tell. Episodes one to three opt for a slow burn, but don’t interpret slow to mean dull or boring. We’re given time to warm to various characters and planets before episode four ramps up the scale and the Rebellion really gets underway. Something that perhaps helps the pacing is Andor himself. The character may be a champion of the Rebel cause but he’s one of Star Wars’ murkiest heroes. We never doubt his intent but the opening scene reminds you that this is a character that exists in the grey areas of life. Good and bad aren’t black and white here. You're kept on your toes by the lead’s unpredictability.

All in all, Andor is a triumph. Lovers of Rogue One in particular are guaranteed a treat, but so too are all Star Wars fans. This isn’t a series that relies on cameos or easter eggs. It’s one that’ll grip fans by launching them into a discussion over where this twisting tale might take us next - and that’s how Star Wars originally captured our hearts. The defining characteristics of the franchise are there, and there’s even humour amidst the tension but it always serves a purpose. Andor explores new areas of the Star Wars galaxy and is all the richer for it, augmented by the tone-perfect performances of the cast and the incredible production design. This may be the longest Star Wars series to date, but it’s one you won’t want to end.

The first three episodes of Star Wars: Andor debut on Disney Plus on 21 September.

Featured Image Credit: Disney Platform Distribution

Topics: Star Wars, TV And Film