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Obi-Wan Kenobi: Ewan McGregor’s return offers Disney+, Star Wars fans new hope


REVIEW: Yes, it’s another piece that connects the dots of Star Wars’ Skywalker nonology.

A bridge between the much-maligned prequels and the movie that started it all some 45 years ago.

But, while the six-part Obi-Wan Kenobi series’ (now streaming on Disney+) central narrative may also bear a striking similarity to the hugely successful Mandalorian (instead of “Baby Yoda” we have our eponymous lead acting as guardian to “tween Leia”) it also offers new hope.

Now almost 25 year older and wiser than when he first took on the Guinness-lilt and lightsaber for The Phantom Menace, Ewan McGregor feels like the perfect fit for the world-weary and broken Jedi master. And, after watching the first two episodes, it’s hard not to be desperate to find out where this particular adventure might lead (apart from back to hanging out with Jawas and Tusken Raiders on Tattoine in a couple of decades when two droids with a message show up).

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When we first re-encounter the man now known as “Ben” in Canadian director Deborah Chow’s propulsive tale, he’s working in the Outer-Rim equivalent of a fish-filleting factory (lumber jacking à la Dexter Morgan clearly not an option on a desert planet). Head down, putting in his hours, while taking a little off the side (to feed his animal companions), he steers clear of the space ports where possible, preferring cave dwelling and bartering with Jawas (despite being fully aware of their deceptive practices).

“If you’re going to steal my parts and sell them back to me, you could at least clean them as a courtesy,” he chides one.

Obi-Wan Kenobi might feature a tale as old as “long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far way”, yet there’s something that clicks, something that feels just right, something that even, dare I say it, feels fresh about the old tropes in this guise.

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Obi-Wan Kenobi might feature a tale as old as “long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far way”, yet there’s something that clicks, something that feels just right, something that even, dare I say it, feels fresh about the old tropes in this guise.

However, while it might be a decade since the events of Revenge of the Sith, he’s still haunted by that nightmarish episode of his life (as are many of us). Failing to prevent his padawan Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) from being seduced by the Dark Side, how it led to the death of Anakin’s wife Padme in childbirth and having to strike Anakin down in order to save himself (there’s a five-minute look back at the entire prequel trilogy at the start of the opening episode, just in case you need a refresher).

Separating Anakin’s twins for their own protection, Obi-Wan left Leia in the care of Senator Bale Organa (Jimmy Smits) on Alderaan, while Luke came with him to Tatooine, where he’s now joined the remnants of his grandmother’s family: Beru (Bonnie Piesse) and Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton).

Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) and Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram) face off in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) and Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram) face off in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Having essentially wiped out the Jedi thanks to the infamous Order 66, the Empire has been essentially in mop-up mode ever since, using force-sensitive “inquisitors” to sniff out any remnants.

“Compassion leaves a trail,” the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) sneers here, as his latest hunt appears to strike gold on Tatooine. “And the Jedi Code is like an itch.”

But while he’s content to round-up whoever he can, Reva (Moses Ingram) has her eyes on the ultimate prize. Convinced that Kenobi is alive, she is determined to lure him out of hiding, even if that means a risky strategy that might just put her at odds with her immediate superiors.

What follows is a tale as old as “long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far way”. An ageing gunslinger reluctantly dragged out of retirement in order to save something precious, facing his demons and making a stand. Heck, it was last used by this lot as recently as The Last Jedi.

Seeing Ewan McGregor back playing Obi-Wan Kenobi is both exhilarating and engrossing.

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Seeing Ewan McGregor back playing Obi-Wan Kenobi is both exhilarating and engrossing.

And yet there’s something that clicks, something that feels just right, something that even, dare I say it, feels fresh about the old tropes in this guise. Seeing McGregor having to go hand-to-hand in order to not give away his true identity is both exhilarating and engrossing, the narrative a kind of John Wick-meets-The Professional, once he eventually goes off-reservation and back into the wider universe, sparring and bonding with an initially suspicious Leia (Mr Corman’s Vivien Lyra Blair, delivering an impressive mix of sass and great hair).

There are terrific cameos from Eternals’ Kumail Nanjiani and Red Hot Chilli Pepper Flea, while Kiwi fans should look out for our own Simone Kessell as Leia’s adoptive mum Breha and a blink-and-you’ll miss it glimpse of a beardy Temuera Morrison.

Naturally, the double-episode premiere ends by hinting at plenty of drama and fireworks to come, but unlike the eventually ponderous (and may be even pointless) Boba Fett series, this really does look like it may deliver something special.

Wednesday night can’t come soon enough.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.



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