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Andor Premiere

What is the single most important thing to great writing? Truthful human behavior. And nobody knows it better and can execute at a higher level than Tony Gilroy. (Okay, he’s in a tie with Aaron Sorkin and the other elite screenwriters.)

I understand why they premiered the first three episodes together: episodes 1 and 2 are set-up for episode 3, which features a phenomenal shoot-out set piece in an industrial location.

Mild spoilers: There are these giant pieces of metal equipment fastened to the ceiling. As the shootout dislodges them, more and more come tumbling to the ground. It’s maybe not genius, but certainly ingenious. It turns a Star Wars trope—the pew-pew blaster fight—into a visceral and terrifyingly real experience.

There’s a screenwriting blog that I really like, Scriptshadow. The writer, Carson Reeves (a pen name), has a lot of great insights, and I’ve learned a lot from him.

But he’s also got severe arrested development. He panned Andor, and he panned Dune—and many other things basically for being grown-up (i.e. slow and boring).

He also seems to be flirting with the “men’s rights” creeps, in having a kind of allergic reaction to feminist content.

In his review of Andor, he complains about the flashbacks to Cassian’s childhood throughout the first three episodes. Is it not entirely obvious why they are there? Cassian was impoverished. He was abandoned with other children after some kind of Imperial mining accident. He had a crush on a girl, and she got killed by the bad guys. He was stranded and in pain—and was rescued by a surrogate mother.

The ending of episode three, the cross-cutting between teenage Cassian leaving his home planet with his surrogate mother, and adult Cassian leaving his current home with his new surrogate father (the Stellan Skarsgaard character)—I found it incredibly emotional.

Having been involved in fandom and criticism since the 1980s—it’s not complicated: You sort of have to meet things where they are.

There are so many great films for young audiences. I love the Harry Potter films, for example—and Pixar films. The original Star Wars films will always hold a cherished place in my heart.

But I’m 48 years old. My favorite new films and shows are for grown-ups. And watching Andor reminds me of what it was like the first time I encountered some of the all-time great films when I was in college, like The Wild Bunch and Chinatown. And a few years after that when the first wave of truly great, mature TV shows rolled out: The Sopranos and The Wire.

It took me a while to figure out—where are the car chases? Oh, I get it: this is not a cartoon. There aren’t “good guys” and “bad guys”—just people.

This was something new. These shows are not for kids. Or idiots. Or certainly not for idiot kids!

They have a certain slowness that comes from, well, realism.

If you’re bored, well, boo-hoo. Go back and your favorite stuff—it’s still there.

Andor is a Star Wars show for grown-ups. It’s about people. The characters have real motivations: feed my family. Defend my tribe. Keep my girlfriend. Please my family. Be loyal to my friend.

It was a brilliant move to get the bad guys out of stormtrooper armor and show their faces: it humanizes them.

I hope amateur screenwriters are taking note of all these lessons!

I loved every second of it.

I get why some people are having a hard time getting into it. Honestly, people are entitled to whatever opinions they have.

But if you’ve been watching kids’ movies for decades, and you are now a somewhat functioning adult...seriously, grow up and try to appreciate the good stuff.

This is elite writing and filmmaking and we should feel very lucky to have it.

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