Episodes viewed - 1 & 2

Since Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, there's been a number of films and television shows released, with varying degrees of success both critically and from the fanbase - not including the misogynists and racists that have plagued it because their opinions can't be taken seriously. Now, when it comes to the Star Wars universe, there's a multitude of stories to be told and we've seen a little variety over the years. The lore surrounding the Jedi and the Force is something that will always be a popular narrative choice though, it's just a matter of trying to make it feel different to what's come before, something The Acolyte seems extremely intent on doing.

Years before the events of The Phantom Menace, there is peace in the galaxy. That all changes when a string of Jedi are murdered and Jedi Master Sol (Lee Jung-jae) must investigate who could be responsible. It brings him to his former Padawan, Osha (Amandla Stenberg), where together they discover that sinister forces are coming to the fore and threatening peace in the galaxy.
If the first two episodes of The Acolyte are anything to go by, this show is going to bring a fresh dynamic to the franchise - the worlds and characters introduced with such confidence that you can't help but feel hooked. Those clamouring for more action from The Mandalorian or Andor will take satisfaction from seeing Star Wars brought to life with such energy. The practicality of it all, with make-up effects and huge sets built for the production driving the narrative forward, gives the show a feeling of being lived-in rather than the overly clean look that the over-usage of visual effects would.

Another stand-out from the first two episodes are the action sequences that help keep the show's pace ticking over. Yes, it's exciting to see lightsabers in use again however, the close-quarter combat without the iconic weapon is utterly thrilling. There's comparisons to be drawn for sure, the most obvious being the choreography from The Matrix, with Carrie-Anne Moss involved in the performance to boot. They're intertwined amidst a narrative that feels inspired by detective shows as Jedi work to find the culprit behind a string of murders. It's basically The Fugitive set in the Star Wars universe - with even a scene directly lifted from the 90s classic in the opening episode that left me grinning.
The performances also bring a lot weight to proceedings, particularly those from Lee Jung-jae and Amandla Stenberg. As Sol, Jung-jae delivers a performance of great stature but also a vulnerability to the Jedi master as he investigates the murders of his fellow Jedi. It's Stenberg who steals the show in the first two episodes though with layers and a complexity to her character that showcase just why she's one of the brightest young actors working today. To see where the character goes throughout the show will be a fascinating watch and in the hands of an actor like Stenberg, it could be one of the most special things we've had from Star Wars in the Disney era.

The performances and the action in the first two episodes provide The Acolyte with an incredibly promising start. With the levels of intrigue raised through the murder mystery nature of the show, the rest of the season is set up to be absolutely compelling viewing.


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