The most entertaining “Star Wars” series since “The Mandalorian”

The new made-for-Disney+ “Star Wars” series “Andor” focuses on Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor and takes place 5 years before “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” took place. This prequel series was created by Tony Gilroy,” who wrote “Rogue One,” the “Bourne” movies, and “Michael Clayton.”

I was given a four-episode screening, with each episode running between 30-45 minutes, and already, it’s the best “Star Wars” series since “The Mandalorian.” Mainly because of how well Luna reprises his role with the kind of ease he brought back in 2016, or it could be that its story is challenging in the early stages of his life and rebellion against the Galactic Empire.

The show presents Cassian as a thief, whose homeland of Kenari was destroyed by the Empire. He finds himself in another place with a new identity, but trouble brews, and his cover is blown. He’s also part of the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire, and has been since he was a kid. So, he’s a fugitive from the Imperial officers.

We see flashbacks of his youth, back when he was known as Kassa, and when he escaped from certain death with the help of a wise, old rebel named Maarva (Fiona Shaw). He speaks the language they don’t speak (no subtitles), but he eventually learns English.

Cassian has a tough mechanic friend named Bix Caleen (Adria Ajorna), who helps him get in touch with a buyer by the name of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard). The thief has an untraceable tool that could buy him some freedom. At first, he doesn’t know if he could trust the man, but Rael offers the chance to join him for some big plans.

Other characters on the show include Imperial officers like Deputy Inspector Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and Lt. Dedra Meero (Denise Gough); Karn’s mother (Kathryn Hunter); the droid B2EMO (voiced by Matt Chapman); Bix’s coworker and lover Timm Karlo (James McArdle); the good senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly); and I think, later in the show, the Partisans leader Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) will appear.

I wish “Andor” could have given us subtitles for the Kenari language in the flashbacks, but still the show knows the stakes and pushes itself further into the rebellion’s life, kudos to Gilroy. Luna plays the character quite well in both the movie and show, but credit must also go to Skarsgard for using his age and ambition to show us his involvement on the light side, and for both Soller and Gough on respective terms as the bad guys, and for Ajorna for using her attitude on different aspects.

Between “The Mandalorian” and this, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was fun, while “The Book of Bobo Fett” was decent. “Andor” still provides the special effects and sets of such a fascinating world. And it also crafts some interesting characters along the way. Again, I was only given a 4-episode screening, so I’m not sure what or who else to expect later on. Even as a made-for-Disney+ series, this still looks and feels worthy of the “Star Wars” name.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

3-Episode Premiere Tomorrow on Disney+

Categories: Action, Adventure, Drama, Prequel, Sci Fi, Series

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