REVIEW: Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)

Ewan McGregor is back as the titular Jedi in Lucasfilm’s OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

All Six Episodes of the Limited Series Were Directed by Deborah Chow.

Set a decade, or so, after the events of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi follows the character of the same name (played by Ewan McGregor, now returning to the role), as he has gone into hiding on Tatooine, where he is watching over young Luke Skywalker from afar. Sith Inquisitors are still hunting for Jedi throughout the galaxy, including Kenobi who Reva (played by Moses Ingram), the Third Sister, is especially interested in. However, Obi-Wan Kenobi is forced out of hiding after young Princess Leia Organa (played by Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped by criminals. Kenobi is Leia’s only hope, and that is exactly what Reva, who orchestrated the kidnapping, had expected and hoped for. As Kenobi leaves Tatooine, he has to reconnect to the Force, but this also means that he risks being confronted by the Inquisitors or even Darth Vader.

It is so delightful to see Ewan McGregor return to the role he, to a certain extent, made his own in the Prequel Trilogy, and the decision to take him off Tatooine for most of the show, even though Kenobi is known as a bit of a hermit in A New Hope, was a surprise to be sure but a welcome one. I loved seeing McGregor’s Kenobi on Imperial bases, on that Blade Runner-esque planet, and, later, with a crew of rebels that felt ripped right out of Rogue One. And Ewan McGregor is as engaging as you would expect. It was genuinely exciting to see him, and others, return to iconic roles (Joel Edgerton, as Owen Lars, was also solid, even though he is used sparingly). There is a moment in the series (or season) finale in which Obi-Wan Kenobi apologizes for something, and the emotion on McGregor’s face, and in his voice, was so powerful to me that it did bring me to tears. I think that right there is the most powerful moment in the series.

Hayden Christensen, of course, also returned to his role as Anakin Skywalker, or as he is mostly known in this era of Star Wars ‘Darth Vader,’ and it was a real pleasure to see him again. I’m not sure how much he actually played the ‘suited’ Darth Vader, but I was overjoyed when we finally saw Prequel era Anakin Skywalker appear in glimpses. In general, I thought the show did a great job with Star Wars’ scariest and most iconic character, Darth Vader. They have some shots and scenes that add to the rich history of the character as one of cinema’s best villains. In certain scenes, Vader has a bit of Michael Myers in him. It’s a little bit scary.

I was also very happy with the new cast members. Vivien Lyra Blair Is a delightful young Leia who the writers have done a terrific job of writing for. Moses Ingram is an intriguing addition to the Sith Inquisitor lore, and I thought she added a lot to a role that could’ve been cardboard thin (even though her arc was rather predictable). I also think that Indira Varma gave an engaging performance as Tala, one of the undercover rebels who Kenobi meets along the way.

Where, I think, the show doesn’t work as well is in the way certain scenes are executed. There is a chase sequence with young Leia on Alderaan that is honestly laughable on rewatch because the characters that are trying to catch her look like the most incompetent kidnappers ever as they can’t jump over a small obstacle, see where she’s running, or simply catch up to her by simply running at their normal pace. In general, there are also just certain shots that have had unnecessary shaky movements added to them for added drama and it just looks really cheap. In general, this prequel show does suffer from the fact that we know what eventually happens to certain characters, which means that some of the dangerous predicaments that character X or Y are put in are not very exciting (this is especially true of the B-plot in the series finale).

I also have to acknowledge that even though the show is so exciting for Star Wars fans because it’s detailing a time in the titular character’s life that we don’t know a lot about, most of the overall story is essentially a rehash of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope since Leia has to be saved from the Empire. That said, I did generally enjoy all of these familiar setups and scenes in spite of how creatively stale their building blocks may have been. I was also very happy to find out that the show managed to tie up and fix potential loose ends in the canon as the show wrapped itself up, since I was worried about what unintended damage a show like this one could result in for the overall story.

I, ultimately, thought Obi-Wan Kenobi was a hugely satisfying addition to the Star Wars mythology and the franchise as a whole. The show managed to enrich character lore in ways that I didn’t see coming (mostly with young Leia but also with the titular character), and I thought the entire show carried a surprising but, honestly, quite moving theme of absolution, or self-forgiveness, which should make us understand the titular character better. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a good reminder of what worked in the Prequel era, as well as a satisfying, albeit not entirely necessary, bridge between that era and the Original trilogy, even though it has some noticeable issues and is a relatively safe show.

B+

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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