The force is nearly strong with this two-episode premiere.
Alec Guinness gave one of his most memorable performances as the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original “Star Wars,” and years after his death, Ewan McGregor was able to live up to his standards in the prequel series. Now that Disney has bought Lucasfilm, it gave us a few more movies, and Disney+ gave us “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Bobo Fett.”
The next series is “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which allows McGregor to reprise his role. The actor is now middle-aged, so he’s able to fit perfectly in the role. But don’t get me wrong, because he always was cool, and he helped make my childhood fun. It’s like a trip down memory lane for me. And for you fans, too.
Us critics and fans were given a two-episode premiere, which is why this review is short. A few cliches in this show don’t taint our enjoyment of the “Star Wars” franchise. In fact, it has its moments of smart aleck kids, henchmen more menacing than their leaders, and some big names (from Joel Edgerton to Kumail Nanjiani) in the cast.
The show takes place ten years after almost all the Jedi knights were slaughtered by Order 66, and Kenobi’s apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) went to the Dark Side. He lives in exile in Tatooine under his real name Ben, while watching over Anakin’s son Luke (Grant Feely), and hiding out from inquisitors.
“What are inquisitors?,” you ask.
They’re former Jedi, who turned to the Dark Side and hunt their own kind. One in particular is named Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram from “The Tragedy of Macbeth”), A.K.A. Third Sister, who is more ruthless than her superiors (Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor and Sung King as Fifth Brother), and she’s so obsessed with finding the Jedi Master, that she hires bounty hunters (featuring Flea) to kidnap Luke’s sister Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair from “Bird Box”) as a way to draw him out of hiding.
Among the cast, Edgerton reprises his role as Luke’s farmer uncle Owen Lars, who tells Kenobi to leave the boy alone; Benny Safdie as a Jedi in hiding; Nanjiani as a well-meaning con-artist, who poses as a Jedi; and Jimmy Smits reprises his role as Senator Bail Organa, Leia’s adoptive father. Again, we’ve just gotten through with the first two episodes, but they all still have their moments. But I’ve mostly appreciated McGregor for having the courage to keep his character alive, Ingram for her searing attitude and ambition, and Blair for adapting to the strong-willed Leia, and for providing some sly wit.
“The Mandalorian,””The Book of Bobo Fett,” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” all have great special effects and impressive make-up, nearly ranking with the movies. Not everything in their stories is interesting, but they still keep fans watching with how they have their own directions in the Galaxy, Far, Far Away.
We only get one shot of Anakin at the end of the second episode, and we know he’ll be known as Darth Vader, but we still have four more episodes to see how it has to go in that direction.
May the force be with this series.
Streaming on Disney+