Directed by : Deborah Chow
Written by : Joby Harold, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie, Hannah Friedman, Andrew Stanton.
Starring : Ewan McGregor, Rupert Friend, Sung Kang, Moses Ingram, Vivien Lyra Blair, Kumail Najiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Hayden Christensen
A long time ago, in a streaming service far-far away…
Star Wars has found a new home in Disney’s marquee streaming platform, Disney+ after their moderate success with the sequel trilogy. Mandalorian came out of the gate as a refreshing expansion of the Star Wars universe that follows brand new characters without overly-relying on nostalgia and legacy characters.
However, with the following second season and the most recent Book of Boba Fett series. Star Wars has found themselves falling into old habits — becoming too reliant on legacy characters, and shoehorning them into every story possible without much narrative sense. Something that ultimately soured the entire sequel trilogy with JJ Abrams’ Rise of Skywalker.
While Obi-Wan Kenobi starts off fairly strong with a great performance by Ewan McGregor and a fittingly gritty tone set by Deborah Chow, it ultimately succumbs to the aforementioned flaws of being crippled by nostalgia. The series takes an interesting avenue by making the story about Obi-Wan Kenobi himself saving a young Princess Leia — an adventure that is fun to watch because of the great performances and chemistry between McGregor and the wonderful Vivian Lyra Blair — but becomes rather head scratching due to the many canonical rule that it breaks.
Even the inclusion of the titular Darth Vader himself is rather questionable, as it comes off more as a marketing ploy to sell this series as a ‘rematch of the decade’ rather than a deep dive into the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Which is rather a shame because there’s so much potential within the character that could be explored without the need of falling back on legacy characters.
As for technical qualities, The Mandalorian set a high bar when it comes to episodic Star Wars. The same goes for Deborah Chow, who did an excellent job with her Mandalorian episodes. However, Obi-Wan Kenobi leaves some to be desired when it comes to staging as Chow has opted for a very gritty, dare-one-say shaky style of cinematography that makes the action realistic in some ways, but mostly cheap in the end result.
Same goes with the score, Natalie Holt returns after her triumphant score for Loki — however the score is pretty underwhelming as it is nowhere near as impactful as Ludwig Gorranson’s work on The Mandalorian or even her own works for Loki.
The series is not without its moments though, especially when it comes to its performances. Ewan McGregor always delivers as the lone Jedi Master — providing us with a side of Obi-Wan that we’ve not seen before — a hopeless and battered warrior who is haunted by his past mistakes. Hayden Christensen, makes his long-awaited return into the Star Wars universe as Darth Vader, and brings a great physicality and even some moments of vulnerability to masked villain. Moses Ingram as Reva, while her performance might not fit the series’ somber tone in a few places — Reva ends up becoming the series’ most compelling character as her arc is one of the most transformative next to Obi-Wan’s.
But the show stealer in all of this is Vivien Lyra Blair as young Leia Organa — channeling a young spunky Princess Leia with a hint of Carrie Fisher’s sheer playfulness in her performance that you can’t help but root for her in every step of the way.
Obi-Wan Kenobi has a hard time justifying its existence within the Star Wars canon but it’s great performances and high-tension moments are undeniably entertaining to watch.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is Now Streaming in Disney+