TL;DR – There are elements here and there that elevate it out of the mire it seems to have written for itself, but many parts still felt lacklustre.
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this series.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Review –
There is very little people agree on when it comes to what worked in the Star Wars prequels, but one of the few things is that Ewan McGregor knocked it out of the park with his performance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Since then, there have been rumours and talk of films going back and forth until finally, the series was announced. I had high hopes after they got the whole band together, but I am not so sure now that I have watched it.
So to set the scene, it has been ten years since The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) engineered his coup against the Jedi with Order 66 wiping all of them out. Well, nearly all of them, because Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) slipped through the cracks and now lives in a cave on Tatooine. He works as a butcher during the day, trying to keep a low profile. However, this is damaged when Inquisitors land on the planet looking for Jedi and Obi-Wan is forced to come out of hiding because across the galaxy, a young Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) has just been kidnapped from her house. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Before I get too deep into my feelings about this series, I want to discuss its strengths. The first of which is the production design, which you could see throughout nearly every moment of the show. You see a level of detail everywhere, for example, all the texture and weathering on the stormtrooper armour in Mapuzo. It is a level of visual storytelling about what the occupation on the planet is like. We also get to see several different worlds throughout the universe, each with their own visual identity. Most of the fight choreography worked well, with my favourite fight being Darth Vader’s (James Earl Jones/Hayden Christensen) and Third Sister’s (Moses Ingram) one-sided dual. From the audio perspective, we get a combination of classic John Williams scores, his new theme for the show, and new music from Natalie Holt. This combination made some moments sing, like when they knew just when to drop Leia’s theme.
When it comes to the narrative, there were highs and lows. I liked seeing Darth Vader’s (James Earl Jones/Hayden Christensen) power in full force. In the original trilogy, Darth was more of a looming presence that could choke you to death if he felt like it. But in Rogue One, we got to see him cut loose, which is supported here. I also liked that we got more insight into characters that didn’t get much screen time before. For example, we got to flesh Owen (Joel Edgerton) and Beru (Bonnie Piesse) a little more, which was probably one of the best parts of the finale. Also, while I did have some issues with the narrative decisions with their characters, I do feel that Moses Ingram was fantastic as Third Sister and that Vivien Lyra Blair nailed a young Leia.
But here we come to the more frustrating aspects of the show, of which there were many, mainly with the narrative. I felt this back at Book of Boba Fett, and I felt it here, but Star Wars desperately needs to cut ties with the anchor that drags behind them, namely Tatooine. We seem to be stuck in the same stories and places, it is a vast galaxy, but we’ve got to hit that Tatooine quota. While this was the start of the frustration, it was the last I had with the narrative. I understand that Obi-Wan/Ben was in a transition phase in this film, but it is annoying when your main protagonist has to be dragged around a narrative he does not want to be in until the end. Then there are the ‘death fake-outs used multiple times throughout the show, and I would have hoped they had learned from Rise of Skywalker on that front. It also showed one of the main issues with a prequel, when the show puts characters in danger that you already know survives, well there is zero tension and this show wants to put Leia or Luke (Grant Feely) in danger whenever it possibly can.
In the end, do we recommend Obi-Wan? Well, there was a lot here that I found frustrating, but it does come together in the end when the show finally delves into the primary relationship it wants to analyse. Is there more they can do in this realm? Yes. But I hope they give the narrative some more work before they dive in next time.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Obi-Wan Kenobi
Directed by – Deborah Chow
Written by – Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini, Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman & Andrew Stanton
Based On – Star Wars by George Lucas
Production/Distribution Companies – Lucasfilm & Disney+
Starring – Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Sung Kang, Vivien Lyra Blair, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., James Earl Jones & Hayden Christensen with Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Jimmy Smits, Benny Safdie, Flea, Marisé Álvarez, Rya Kihlstedt, Zach Braff, Maya Erskine, Grant Feely & Ming Qiu with Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Temuera Morrison & Liam Neeson
Episodes Covered – Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V & Part VI