Obi-Wan Kenobi Review: Will Star Wars Ever Let the Past Sleep?

Obi-Wan Kenobi was all the time an concept searching for a narrative. In any case, the third live-action Star Wars sequence — all six episodes at the moment are accessible on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — needed to function inside a confined house. It could not do something drastic or toy with the canon, as a result of its beginning and finish factors had been squeezed between already-established Star Wars story. Obi-Wan Kenobi is ready 10 years after the climactic duel between the titular Jedi Grasp (Ewan McGregor) and his side-switching Padawan Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) on Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and simply 9 years earlier than a teenage Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will turn out to be a galactic hero with steering from Obi-Wan and blow up the Loss of life Star on Episode IV – A New Hope. Push a level too far, and you find yourself breaking the galaxy.

It did not assist that Obi-Wan Kenobi actively mimicked beats, areas, and set items from different Star Wars films, sequence, and even video games. At this level, it appears like a foregone conclusion that each new Star Wars factor will riff on Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. However Obi-Wan Kenobi even went into the sequel trilogy, together with that last-ditch stand on Jabiim in “Half V” that felt like a a lot smaller model of the Battle of Crait from Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The confrontation between Obi-Wan and Vader on “Half III” is a poor imitation of the aforementioned Episode III sequence — it occurs on a building website?! — and it ends in an anti-climactic guided-by-plot-armour method. The second duel on “Half VI” is arguably significantly better, from the emotion to the choreography of the scene, but it surely’s nonetheless restricted by the truth that there’s zero stakes and it is intercut with one other zero-stakes scene within the hunt of a younger Luke (Grant Feely). And “Half IV” took us to Fortress Inquisitorius, which was used for a significantly better mission on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

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Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia Organa in Obi-Wan Kenobi
Photograph Credit score: Disney/Lucasfilm

After which after all, there’s the central dynamic, one we have seen earlier than in live-action Star Wars sequence. Like The Mandalorian — the one nice Star Wars sequence to this point — Obi-Wan Kenobi adopts the Lone Wolf and Cub method, in a way of talking. The place Obi-Wan is to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), and younger Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) is to Grogu/ Child Yoda. Not like the inexperienced alien, Leia is not an toddler although. (She’s additionally not as meme-able.) Actually, she’s fairly precocious for her age, serving to out Obi-Wan and Co. occasionally. A speaking flesh-and-blood human companion does set it other than The Mandalorian — however the dynamic performs out similarly, in that the elder takes care of a youngling, and turns right into a pseudo-father determine alongside the best way.

Deborah Chow, who directed episodes of The Mandalorian season 1, was then a pure match to direct a narrative like that. However sadly, she was working off some very uneven writing — by Joby Harold (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) — throughout the six-episode restricted sequence. A part of the issue is that Chow needed to function within the aforementioned zero-stakes atmosphere. From the beginning of Obi-Wan Kenobi, we all know that its largest characters — Leia, Obi-Wan, and Vader — can’t be put into life-and-death conditions. Actually, they can not even lose any of their limbs or fingers, given we’re totally conscious of their future. Regardless of figuring out that, Obi-Wan Kenobi “Half I” put Leia in that place. And it was completely meaningless as a result of there was no weight to it.

This is not true of everybody else although, however the Star Wars sequence didn’t make most of its solid. Each Rupert Buddy (Anatomy of a Scandal) and Sung Kang (Fast & Furious sequence) had been wasted because the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother, respectively. I think about many would not even recall the identify of Kang’s character if I hadn’t put it there — such was his side-lining. Whereas the Fifth Brother was relegated to sneering at Reva Sevander/ Third Sister (Moses Ingram) for her unchecked ambition, the Grand Inquisitor got here throughout as a petulant micro-manager. And talking of Reva, I may by no means take her severely for her preliminary said purpose — to seize and kill Obi-Wan — is one thing we knew may by no means occur. Naturally then, Obi-Wan Kenobi saved getting in her means. And even after Reva revealed her true motives, Darth Vader survived as a result of he had canon armour.

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Sung Kang as Fifth Brother, Moses Ingram as Reva in Obi-Wan Kenobi
Photograph Credit score: Disney/Lucasfilm

On the Gentle facet of the supporting solid, Indira Varma made her Imperial officer turned spy character, Tala Durith, look higher than she was written, due to her efficiency. The much less mentioned concerning the others, the higher. Kumail Nanjiani — on the again of taking part in cosmic hero disguised as a Bollywood star in Eternals for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — received a glorified visitor function that was stretched to justify his inclusion on the solid. Joel Edgerton was introduced again to play Anakin Skywalker’s step-brother Owen Lars for “Half VI”. O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s Jedi-helper Kawlan Roken — one other character identify I needed to lookup — modified his choices on the fly to go well with the plot. And Maya Erskine was squeezed right into a nook of the body, in what I am fairly positive was a task with a single line.

Elsewhere in Obi-Wan Kenobi, different characters are made to look silly due to silly writing. As a result of showrunner Harold and Co. wanted Reva to search out younger Luke on Tatooine on “Half VI”, they wrote in two unbelievable acts on “Half V”. First, in a message to Obi-Wan, Leia’s adoptive father Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) helpfully revealed every thing {that a} child-hunting stranger would wish to know, proper right down to the place “the boy” is hidden. After which, Darth Vader, a man who kills on the slightest provocation and had no issues slaughtering younger youngsters, left Reva — who tried to separate him into two simply minutes in the past — alive on the finish of “Half V”. And oh additionally, the hologram thingy that carried Bail’s message is conveniently dropped by Nanjiani’s character inside crawling distance of Reva.

Even the title character needed to undergo flippant resolution making. When Obi-Wan was left burned and scarred on the finish of “Half III” — the halfway level of the sequence — I figured this may function an vital stumbling block for the character on this journey. However within the opening moments of “Half IV”, he spent 10 minutes in a bacta tank and was fully healed. Wait, what? That is as a result of Obi-Wan Kenobi had no time for the character to have a journey. And therefore, regardless of McGregor’s greatest efforts to imbue some depth to the function he reprised after a niche of practically 20 years, he could not make him really feel like a dwelling respiration human. There wasn’t any room for that progress, of a disillusioned Jedi Grasp, who had pulled himself away from the Power, discovering his means again to his previous lifestyle.

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Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi
Photograph Credit score: Disney/Lucasfilm

As an alternative, Obi-Wan discovered “his energy” — as Vader identified in “Half VI”, although omitting the essential bit — seemingly out of nowhere. In “Half III”, Obi-Wan can scarcely maintain his personal in opposition to Vader. And by the point “Half VI” rolls round, which by the character of the occasions looks as if mere weeks if not days after, Obi-Wan is an Episode III – Revenge of the Sith-level Jedi Grasp once more.

A few of this — particularly Obi-Wan’s rushed arc — was on account of the truth that Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally supposed to be a movie. However following the vital and business catastrophe that was Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney and Lucasfilm put an finish to anthology movies. And therefore, Obi-Wan Kenobi ended up as a miniseries. You may inform that as the brand new Star Wars sequence unfolds. It feels designed as a film — the place it will have arguably performed higher, what with Obi-Wan and Vader final being collectively on the massive display screen — that has been stretched into the lamentable X-hour movie-as-a-series method. (There’s additionally the small matter of all of the scripts being reportedly thrown out at one level. Obi-Wan Kenobi positively has extra cooks than required.)

The one factor that largely labored on Obi-Wan Kenobi was its use of Vader himself. Appropriately epic and menacing in his scenes, Christensen’s return because the Sith Lord could not have given him an excessive amount of to do exterior of the go well with, however he — together with the beloved James Earl Jones as Darth Vader’s voice — did one of the best he may. Actually, his solely (correct) scene within the flesh, as Anakin Skywalker, was the spotlight of the Star Wars sequence for me. Certain, it did not precisely construct on what we have identified about Obi-Wan and Anakin’s dynamic, but it surely was executed properly in the way it performed in parallel to the occasions of “Half V”. A follow duel between the 2 echoed its classes over a decade into the long run, with the Jedi Grasp noting a) you do not want a weapon to struggle and b) how Anakin’s need to show himself and be victorious blinds him.

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Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia Organa in Obi-Wan Kenobi
Photograph Credit score: Disney/Lucasfilm

In the end although, this is the query I am left with, after watching the sequence finale “Half VI”: What’s the goal of Obi-Wan Kenobi? As a result of let’s face it, Disney and Lucasfilm don’t make something today that can not be spun off into extra tales. The aforementioned Solo was by no means alleged to be a one-off — and therefore, that Darth Maul tease — and it was designed to guide into sequels with the brand new solid members. Heck, even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did not find yourself being a one-off, regardless of everybody dying on the finish of the film. The subsequent live-action Star Wars sequence, Andor, is a prequel TV present that continues the story of multiple Rogue One character — together with Diego Luna’s titular Insurgent spy — and can run for more than one season.

However there is not any future to Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s two largest names. We already know principally every thing about Obi-Wan and Vader, proper right down to how their tales finish. Younger Leia mentioned it effectively on “Half VI”, it is time for Obi-Wan to sleep. The third largest identify, Varma, died in “Half V”. Although if we now have realized something from Rogue One, then it is that fan-favourite characters can all the time be given prequels of their very own. In fact, what I have been purposely avoiding is Leia herself. Is the entire level of Obi-Wan Kenobi to go away room for adventures of younger Leia? Or that rumoured Reva sequence? As a result of that may clarify why she’s left alive in “Half V”. Or possibly that brother Obi-Wan talked about in passing on “Half III”? I imply, Star Wars does love tying every thing to household, as a lot as Fast & Furious.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was miles higher than The Book of Boba Fett, a sequence that ought to never have existed to start with. However it was additionally nowhere close to as drilled, lean, and impactful as The Mandalorian. Star Wars has a significant issue with not letting the previous lie — and it isn’t like they’re about to be taught that lesson anytime quickly. Following Andor that is tied to a prequel which itself was a prequel, the subsequent new live-action Star Wars sequence would be the Rosario Dawson-led Ahsoka. And Christensen is ready to return as Vader as soon as once more on Ahsoka. Star Wars is in determined want of recent blood — give me more Taika Waititis, and that Rian Johnson trilogy (hopefully someday) — but it surely appears silly to count on that Disney will simply let billions in legacy merchandising alternatives go. Could the toys be with you.

All six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. In India, Obi-Wan Kenobi is out there in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam.

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