While The Mandalorian season 1 was visually stunning, season 2 features improved cinematography and VFX, along with intricate worldbuilding.
When The Mandalorian season 2 dropped its first episodes – “The Marshal” and “The Passenger – on Disney+, it became immediately apparent that the new season’s visuals are even better than those of season 1. While the pandemic dampened production and release for quite a few big franchises, director Jon Favreau said that the crew of The Mandalorian were lucky enough to have finished photography before the lockdown, thanking Lucasfilm and ILM’s “technologically-forward” endeavors. All editing, visual effects, and postproduction for The Mandalorian were carried out remotely, which, as proven by the episodes, is quite an impressive feat.
While The Mandalorian season 1 featured impressive cinematography to begin with, which can be exemplified in the various fight sequences and the immersive worldbuilding, season 2 takes it a notch higher. Season 1 granted audiences with a string of visual feasts, especially in Chapters 3 and 8, titled “The Sin” and “Redemption”, which featured breathtaking fight sequences that carry emotional weight and the defining scene in which The Child uses his Force powers to protect Din, Cara, and Greef from exploding flames in the finale.
On the other hand, The Mandalorian season 2 dives head-first into detailed, carefully-crafted visual montages, evident in “The Marshal”’s climactic krayt dragon sequence in Tatooine – an amazing CGI feat – which aesthetically resembles a video game side-quest similar to Knights of the Old Republic, while echoing the massive, surreal setting of Arrakis in Dune. Apart from this, season 2 flips back and forth between varying aspect ratios in order to lend a sense of theatrical scale and uses stark contrast between light and shadow to brew suspense, as exemplified in the final moments of “The Marshal”, where Boba Fett’s shadowy figure emerges against the backdrop of the setting suns.
Worldbuilding for a franchise as comprehensive and complex as Star Wars can often prove to be difficult, however, The Mandalorian carves out a distinct visual topography and ecosystem for every planet, as seen in the vivid portrayal of the glacial landscape of Maldo Kreis and the season’s refreshing take on the oft-featured Tatooine. Peyton Reed’s direction of “The Passenger” included in some spectacular chase scenes involving Mando’s Razor Crest and the X-Wings, wherein the latter’s appearance, movements, and sound design lent the sequence its standout status. Additionally, the scene with the cave-dwelling ice spiders is impressively executed, replete with intricately-detailed ice spider anatomies and compelling movement trajectories that lend the scene a considerable amount of creepiness and genuine stakes.
It is also exciting to witness intricate lore details embedded within the visual fabric of The Mandalorian, be it in the form of easter eggs or an armor/weapon detail that helps foreshadow what might occur next. And, of course, the greatest achievement of The Mandalorian is the portrayal of Baby Yoda, or The Child, which, essentially, is a manually-operated puppet – however, The Child’s characterization, movements, and emotional cues are so realistically executed, that fans cannot help but fall in love with the character. Nevertheless, the elevated qualitative threshold of VFX and cinematography in season 2 is indicative of the fact that season 1 has surely been a learning curve and the show has widened its horizons in terms of both visuals and aesthetics. Hence, beyond the shadow of a doubt, upcoming episodes in the latest installment of The Mandalorian season 2 are bound to be phenomenal in terms of visual storytelling.
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