With Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Flea, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Benny Safdie, Joel Edgerton, Kumail Nanjiani, Hayden Christensen
Published May 30, 2022
No amount of nostalgia can de Star Wars prequels, which were disappointing at the time and even worse in retrospect thanks to their screensaver-level CGI. It’s not so much that Jar Jar Binks was a bad character – it’s that it’s hard to even see him as a character, when rendered with all the sophistication of the Dancing Baby GIF.
That’s why it’s such a revelation when Obi-Wan Kenobi begins with a four-minute recap of the prequels – which as a condensed montage actually look pretty awesome. Pod racers! Darth Maul! Anakin becomes Darth Vader! Nearly seven hours of films translate into an emotional, action-packed four-minute sequence.
Obi-Wan Kenobi picks up 10 years after the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sithi and, unlike some others Star Wars properties that have tried to fill in gaps in the backstory (e.g. midi-chlorians) doesn’t feel like it interferes unnecessarily with the mythology of the universe. As fans have already seen A new hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) hides on Tatooine and uses the name “Ben” while keeping watch over a young Luke Skywalker. (Time has not been kind to Ben; despite this being only a decade later, he seems to have aged at least 17 years.)
Obi-Wan KenobiThe first episode nicely sets the tone for his quiet, solitary life: repeated scenes show him working on the assembly line, commuting home through the desert, sitting quietly in his cavernous house, and remaining on his own. This section has a mournful and vaguely dystopian tone – something emphasized by the Empire’s inquisitors, who go on a hunt for surviving Jedi through Tatooine.
The pale Obi-Wan is eventually pulled from hiding when a gang of criminals, led by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Princess Leia (birdhouse‘s Vivien Lyra Blair) and take her to the planet Daiyu. With its neon signs, eternal darkness and seedy underbelly, Daiyu has the highly fashionable aesthetic of: Blade Runner – the only thing missing is a Vangelis score.
Flea and the menacing Inquisitors (played by Moses Ingram and Rupert Friend) give Obi-Wan Kenobi a sinister criminal element. Comedic relief is provided by the reliably hilarious Kumail Nanjiani, who plays a con artist who poses as a Jedi, and the extremely precocious Blair. Young Leia’s candor, intelligence, and occasional biting burns make her a perfect fit for the older Leia played by Carrie Fisher.
In contrast to the serialized western style of The Mandalorianthe first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi which has aired so far is very similar to the first part of a movie. They fit nicely with the movies of a Skywalker Saga and are a welcome enhancement to the franchise’s dubious history of sequels and prequels. If the prequels helped pave the way for this show, maybe they weren’t so bad after all. (Disney)