To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a sci-fi space-adventure miniseries created for Disney+. The show is produced by Kathleen Kennedy with Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian) serving as director and Joby Harold (Awake) leading the writing team. Featuring Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Vivien Lyra Blair, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Jimmy Smits, Rupert Friend, Sung Kang, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., James Earl Jones, and Hayden Christensen, it is the third live-action series that’s part of the Star Wars franchise. Set ten years after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, the series follows Obi-Wan Kenobi, now going by Ben, as he sets out to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from the ruthless and ambitious Inquisitor, Reva Sevander. His journey eventually leads to another confrontation with his former apprentice Anakin Skywalker, now known as the Sith Lord, Darth Vader.
At the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Jedi younglings are training with their teacher, Master Minas Velti (Ming Qui) on a balcony. All of a sudden the balcony doors open and Clone Troopers begin firing upon them. Minas kills the Clone Troopers and summons the younglings into the hallway. As they run through the corridor, numerous Jedi are fighting against the Clone Troopers. Minas is eventually killed by blaster fire while protecting the children. Not knowing what to do next the younglings continue running through the temple as Emperor Palpatine’s voice echoes in the background “Execute Order 66.”
Ten years later on Tatooine, an Inquisitorius ship lands near Mos Eisley. The Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) exits alongside the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) and the Third Sister Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram). They are following up on reports of a Jedi hiding out in the town. They come into conflict with a Jedi named Nari (Benny Safdie), who ends up escaping. The Grand Inquisitor clashes with Reva over her recklessness. Reva is tired of chasing “scraps” and is looking for a more powerful Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The Grand Inquisitor tells Reva to forget about her fixation with Kenobi or she will be relieved of her duties. Unbeknownst to them, Kenobi is also on Tatooine working as a butcher at a sand whaling station under the alias Ben and watching over a young Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely).
Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally intended to be a film written by Hossein Amini (47 Ronin) and directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours), but it was reworked as a limited series following the commercial disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Deborah Chow was brought on to direct and Joby Harold rewrote much of the script. Overall, Chow does a decent job handling all of the new and old characters. Considering that the budget she was given was lower than it would have been if it were released as a movie some scenes look truly cinematic while others are more in line with a television show. This is probably because most of the series was shot on the Volume – officially called StageCraft – a large curved LED surface developed by Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) division. The Volume can create foreign environments as if film crews were actually on site. While this is innovative and helpful for budgetary reasons, it does limit the amount of space a scene can have.
The acting in the show was great. Ewan McGregor felt right at home in the role of Obi-Wan. Being a bit older, McGregor changed Obi-Wan’s voice to sound a bit more like Alec Guinness’ portrayal from the Original Trilogy. Obi-Wan starts the series defeated and is only focused on looking after Luke and keeping his head down. It was enjoyable to have Hayden Christensen back as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. While he was truly only needed for the flashback scene allowing him to be in the suit as well felt like a victory for Prequel Trilogy fans. Finally, fans get to see Darth Vader in his prime. Filled with the anger and strength that has only been seen in Star Wars animated series. He is not depowered in any way and that helps reinforce his legend and why he is feared in the Original Trilogy. Also, the voice provided by James Earl Jones using Respeecher is as menacing as it’s ever been. The supporting cast holds their own with Owen (Joel Edgerton), Beru (Bonnie Piesse), Bail (Jimmy Smits) returning from previous films, and new characters added to make the story feel more accessible to people who are just getting into Star Wars for the first time.
The series is not without its issues. Natalie Holt (Loki) composed the score, and unfortunately, it pales in comparison to what we get in the films. No bit of music in the series is memorable as with that John Williams did. With these two iconic characters more themes such as “Duel of the Fates” “Battle of the Heroes” and “The Imperial March” should have been incorporated throughout the series. Vivien Lyra Blair was well cast as young Princess Leia but I felt the character was in it too much. Having her as the catalyst to get Obi-Wan out of hiding was the most we needed from that character. Other actors such as Sung Kang were greatly underutilized. Lastly, Reva is a great addition to the Star Wars franchise but her story felt squeezed in like a backdoor pilot for her own series when the focus should have stayed on Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.
Overall, this series was enjoyable to watch. Did I enjoy it… yes. Did I love it… no. Would’ve enjoyed more focus on Obi-Wan being hunted by Darth Vader and a better score. I give Obi-Wan Kenobi a Good 4/5. While I still feel that this should’ve stayed a theatrical experience, I’d be game to see Ben Kenobi go on more adventures in a second season.