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‘Andor: The Complete First Season (4K UHD Blu-ray review)

Disney

 

I watched Andor when it first premiered on streaming. I was intrigued to see where the story was going to go.

The Star Wars live action TV shows with the exception of The Mandalorian at that point, had left me wanting. (I’m looking at you Obi-Wan).

Where was a show that was based on a one-off film about background characters going to take us?

Simply: I was floored.

Andor is the prequel to Rogue One which, stay with me, is the prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, the originator of the whole Star Wars franchise.

Andor reveals rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor’s complicated past and his journey to becoming the flashpoint for the rebellion’s momentum in fighting the Empire.

The Andor series was not only some of the best written Star Wars we have had so far, I would have argued surpasses the original source material. Looking back, it could be said that my reaction was because my bar had been set low by Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett. With the release of Andor on Blu-ray, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit the series and see if it really was all that and a bag of chips.

Oh yeah. It is.

I would say I enjoyed Andor even more the second time around, picking up on nuances and easter eggs that passed me by on the first viewing.

It blows me away that Tony Gilroy succeeded in making Andor a success. Everything was stacked against him and his team.

The story revolves around a doomed main character. How do you make me care about a walking dead man for 12 episodes? Through some stellar storytelling and a phenomenal cast.

What stands out to me with the writing is that it is steeped in enough Star Wars lore to make even the most hardcore fan have to acknowledge the writer’s grasp of the Star Wars universe.

When you strip back the Star Wars veneer, Andor is a really good drama. You could substitute the Empire for any government from our world history who colonized lands for wealth and resources. The conflict between the Empire and its colonized planets in Andor is as relatable as our own history.

As good as the writing is, the showrunners know when less is more. They allow the phenomenal cast to do what they do best; act. Where other shows would have long drawn out dialog dumps of angst, Diego Luna’s Cassian will give a look and tell you everything with just his eyes. Stellan Skarsgård also steals scene after scene as Luthen Rael. Luthen flips between his cover as an art dealer and ice cold rebel coordinator with incredible skill. Genevieve O’Reilly brings a grounding presence to the glamorous senator Mon Mothma.

The list of top notch performances goes on. From Fiona Shaw’s heartbreaking performance as Cassian’s mother, to Denise Gough’s love-to-hate-her ISB agent. Each actor’s performance is a hook that gets under your skin and draws you in. It makes you care about even the characters who receive only a short amount of screen time.

Andor’s production team, cast, and crew understood the assignment.

Make a Star Wars show that feels like it was created alongside the original trilogy. The tech is not flashy. It’s all knobs, switches, and buttons, staying true to Episode IV’s design. Apparently, the production team was given the directive that they couldn’t use anything to build the sets that weren’t available to the crews in 1977. That attention to detail makes the difference.

The new planets we are introduced to are rich in detail. We walk the streets of Cassian’s home planet of Ferrix with him. It’s old and worn. It feels real in a way that other productions don’t. The fact that the production team built full sets instead of using digital effects where they could. It has a very real impact on the way the cast interacts with their environment.

If it’s real for them, it’s real for us.

Even on the planet Coruscant, the center of the Empire where the rich and powerful live, still feels just this side of late 70s to early 80s sleek and shiny aesthetic of great wealth. Shooting on location and using physical sets makes Andor seamlessly fit into the Star Wars mythos.

Prequels are a tough sell. You always know where the main characters are going. Who Lives. Who dies. The question is, is it worth my time to watch the story when you know where it will eventually end up, especially if the ending is tragic.

Andor is absolutely worth the investment.

Extras include several featurettes.

 

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