Andor: The Complete First Season – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook Review

Mark Pacis

Lucasfilm's Andor

Andor delivers an exceptional addition to the Star Wars universe, providing a fresh perspective on the saga with a gripping tale of rebellion, espionage, and personal redemption. Set five years before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this series centers on Cassian Andor’s transformation from a disillusioned thief to a committed revolutionary. Andor not only expands the narrative landscape of Star Wars but also deepens its emotional and political complexity.

Andor sets itself apart by meticulously crafting a narrative that delves into the moral ambiguities of rebellion against tyranny. Each episode weaves a slow-burning story that rewards patience with rich character development and a multi-layered plot. This process allows viewers to immerse themselves fully in the stark realities of Andor’s world. It also highlights the sacrifices and hard choices that define the rebellion against the mighty Empire.

The pacing of Andor is deliberate, favoring character development and intricate plotting over non-stop action. This choice might not cater to all Star Wars fans’ tastes, but it serves the series well. At the same time, the tone is consistently mature and thought-provoking, offering a more adult-oriented approach to the Star Wars universe that explores themes of oppression, freedom, and resistance.

Diego Luna reprises his role as Cassian Andor, delivering a powerhouse performance that captures the character’s emotional journey from personal survival to a more meaningful cause. Luna’s portrayal is compelling and nuanced, making Cassian a relatable and inspirational figure. The supporting cast, including Stellan Skarsgård, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Denise Gough, enriches the series with their performances.

Overall, Andor blends the familiar elements of Star Wars with a bold new narrative approach. It is a deeply engaging, beautifully crafted series that adds significant depth to the franchise. The show is a testament to the power of storytelling within this beloved universe, proving that there is still much to explore and understand about the forces that shape the galaxy.

Series Review: 4/5 atoms

(L-R): Ham (Clemens Schick), Kino Loy (Andy Serkis), Jemboc (Brian Bovell) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's Andor

Andor hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, HDR10 presentation with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The higher bitrate of the Ultra HD Blu-ray significantly enhances the picture, providing a visual experience that will truly impress you, especially when compared to streaming on Disney+. The increased bitrate enhances even the darkest scenes with remarkable depth and clarity. This improvement lets viewers appreciate subtle nuances and textures that streaming platforms often lose due to video compression. 

This difference is especially noticeable in complex or shadow-heavy scenes. While the HDR grade might not match the nuanced colors and black levels of the Dolby Vision on Disney+, it still performs admirably. Blacks are cleaner, particularly in low-light and shadow-heavy scenes. Plus, the whites are brilliantly crisp, and the colors are vibrant.

Video Review: 5/5 atoms

(L-R): Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in Lucasfilm's Andor

Andor hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. Complementing the stellar video quality, each episode of Andor features a dynamic Dolby Atmos mix that will truly captivate you. The audio is dynamic and enveloping, from blaster fire and rainfall to bustling street sounds. Most of the audio anchors in the front three channels, but the surround and height channels also actively engage, enhancing the immersive experience. Sound positioning is precise, especially with spacecraft flying across the screen. Though some episodes are quieter, the soundscape remains lively, maintaining engagement across all channels. The only minor issue is that the low-frequency effects sometimes lack depth, not delivering the expected boom in intense scenes. However, this is a minor flaw compared to the overall sound quality.

Audio Review: 5/5 atoms

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's Andor
Special Features

Andor has the following bonus features on Disc 1. However, Discs 2 and 3 don’t have any bonus features.

  • Andor: Declassified
    • Ferrix Part 1: Imperial Occupation
    • Aldhani: Rebel Heist
    • Coruscant: Whispers of Rebellion
    • Narkina 5: No Way Out
    • Ferrix Part 2: Fight the Empire
Features Assessment

Andor: Declassified” includes five featurettes, each corresponding to a different chapter of the season’s story. The featurettes also delve into character arcs, subplots, and production details. Tony Gilroy and Diego Luna frequently provide insights alongside Stellan Skarsgård, Fiona Shaw, and key crew members. Behind-the-scenes footage and production art add depth to these segments, making them engaging and informative. The primary drawback is that the total runtime of bonus material is about 40 minutes, leaving viewers wishing for more.

Steelbook Contents for Lucasfilm's Andor

The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Andor also comes in a glossy steelbook case and a trio of concept art cards.

Special Features Review: 2.5/5 atoms

Overall, Andor is a series worth watching. It entertains and pushes the boundaries of what we know and expect from the Star Wars universe, making it an exceptional addition to the franchise. Furthermore, the video and audio quality of the show is outstanding. The only downside is that the bonus features aren’t as impressive as the rest of the series.

Overall Review: 4/5 atoms

Andor hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on April 30th.

This Blu-ray was provided by Buena Vista Home Entertainment for review purposes.