A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part III” Review

Leia poster, Star Wars Obi-Wan KenobiSERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part III”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones (Voice)
WRITERS:
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
June 1, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan and Leia are hunted on the mining world of Mapuzo.

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By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I mentioned previously that, going forward, Star Wars needs to take a break from setting shows in the desert. Going forward, the franchise also needs to work on avoiding what I’ll call “the Baby Yoda effect.” That is, sticking the hero or heroes with a child over the course of their journey. Specifically one that’s strong in the Force. The Mandalorian obviously did that with Grogu. The Bad Batch did it with Omega. Now this show is doing it with Leia.

To be clear, I’m not saying children shouldn’t be used in Star Wars stories. I just want to avoid Star Wars telling the same kinds of stories over and over again.

James Earl Jones is the voice of Darth Vader. He’s always been the voice of Darth Vader, and as long as he’s alive and wants to do it, he should be the voice of Darth Vader.

That being said, I had some slight issues with his performances in Rogue One and what I’ve seen of Rebels. My contention has been that he doesn’t sound as mean or as evil as Darth Vader should. Not like Darth Vader, but rather, Mufasa saying Darth Vader’s lines. Am I imagining it? Am I expecting too much? Maybe and maybe. But that’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.

However, I’m pleased to say that thus far, that problem hasn’t been present in Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is the best James Earl Jones has sounded as Vader since Disney purchased the franchise. I’m not sure whether to attribute that to good direction, Mr. Jones simply having a good day in the recording booth, or something else. Either way, I’m grateful for it.

Obi-Wan’s hallucination of Anakin from a distance, dark cloak and all, was a brilliant touch. Great shot too.

When Hayden Christensen was announced for this series, I figured they’d use him for flashback sequences. I’m sure those are still coming. But that’s another, clever way to use him without the Darth Vader suit.

Fifth Brother, played by Sung Kang, doesn’t have a conventional name the way Reva, the Third Sister, has one. But might I suggest…Hat Guy. Because that’s a variation on what most people, especially those of us who haven’t seen him in Rebels, are calling him.

Zach Braff provides the voice for Freck the transport pilot. Is that how they got him to star in that Cheaper By the Dozen remake for Disney+?

“Hey man, do this and we’ll throw in a part in Star Wars.”

“I am what you made me.” That line, delivered by Vader to Obi-Wan, is great. The entire presentation of Darth Vader in this episode is fantastic. The sense of terror and dread in his scenes is palpable. He truly comes off like the monster he is.

That’s especially true when he drags Obi-Wan through the flames. He wants to torture, maim, and disfigure his old master. But he also wants to savor the moment. Those shots of the Darth Vader suit in the light from the flames looked great too.

Leia offering to go forward on your own so Tala can go back for Obi-Wan is a nice little character moment for her. One of numerous character moments the show has given her thus far.

Well, so much for Obi-Wan’s first use of a lightsaber in a decade being a memorable moment. Still, I appreciate that he was largely helpless against Vader, and that we didn’t jump right into a super-choreographed sword fight. The man hasn’t been a Jedi in 10 years. To say his skills would be rusty is an understatement…

So…why did Vader let Obi-Wan go? The camera stayed on him for awhile, which seems to imply that he was pondering his next move. My only guess is that he figures he can follow Obi-Wan’s trail, and perhaps sniff out dissenters. That would seem to be the only thing that makes sense.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi “Part II” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part II”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Vivien Lyra Blair, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Kumail Nanjiani
WRITERS: 
Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan travels to Daiyu to rescue Princess Leia.

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By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When I first saw the publicity images of Obi-Wan on Daiyu, I thought we were looking at the underbelly of Coruscant. That would have been cool to see. But from a story perspective, it makes more sense to keep Obi-Wan away from Coruscant. He is, after all, a wanted man. And Coruscant is, after all, the center of the Empire.

Most of the best planets in Star Wars are simple in concept and easy to understand. Tatooine is the desert planet, Coruscant is the city planet, Kashyyyk is the wookie planet, etc. By those standards, it looks like Daiyu is the crime planet. A sort of low rent Coruscant where corruption reigns supreme. It serves its purpose fine here, so I’ve got no complaints.

Kumail Nanjiani’s character, Haja Estree, is a Jedi impersonator. I like that. A trickster who preys on people’s need for hope. Yet deep down, he secretly has a desire to legitimately do good. I have my doubts about whether we’ll see him again in this series. But I certainly wouldn’t mind it.

I appreciate that we see Obi-Wan using a blaster, and reluctant to use his lightsaber. When he uses the Force to save Leia in this episode, it’s a big moment because he presumably hasn’t done it in years. When he uses the lightsaber for the first time on this show, it should be a similar kind of moment.

Plus, we’re getting our lightsaber fix with the Inquisitors. Having Obi-Wan use one too, especially so soon, would be overkill.

The actress that plays the “I was someone’s daughter once too” girl is actually Ewan McGregor’s daughter, Esther Rose McGregor. Ironically, Obi-Wan tells that character he’s looking for his daughter.

Is that the Star Wars equivalent of a meth lab we see in this episode? I’m thinking it is. And I kind of love it.

I was angry, yet sadly not surprised to hear Moses Ingram, who plays Reva, has been getting racist messages from a small portion of the Obi-Wan Kenobi audience. There’s no place for that. Never has been. Never will be. And I was happy to see the official Star Wars social media accounts come to her defense.

I’m now convinced we’re getting a Qui-Gon Jinn Force ghost scene. We’ve seen Obi-Wan try and talk to Qui-Gon a couple of times now. You can’t not pay that off. Liam Neeson, who of course plays Qui-Gon, may have said he doesn’t do TV. But what else is he going to say? His appearance is, theoretically, meant to be a surprise. Andrew Garfield had to lie for months about not being in Spider-Man: No Way Home. I’d bet money it’s the same kind of situation with Liam Neeson and Star Wars.

Plus, we found out at Star Wars Celebration last week that Neeson is doing voiceover work on a Tales of the Jedi animated show. He’s coming back, folks. We just have to be patient.

I was more than happy to see Reva turn on the Grand Inquisitor, presumably killing him. As I said last time, I don’t love the idea of the Inquisitors, as I think they devalue Darth Vader. So the less of them that are around, the happier I am.

As it turns out, though, the Grand Inquisitor may not actually be dead. He’s obviously on Star Wars: Rebels, which takes place years after Obi-Wan Kenobi. So either he survived the stabbing, or there’s a cloning situation happening here, or some other wacky scenario brings him back. Remember, this is the Star Wars universe, where Darth Maul can survive being cut in half and dropped into a pit…

I’ve enjoyed Rupert Friend’s portrayal of the character, though. It looks like he was having a ball doing it. I got Ian McDiarmid/Revenge of the Sith vibes.

Obi-Wan’s reaction to learning Anakin is alive was very well acted by Ewan McGregor. The revelation does make me wonder, though…who did know Anakin was Darth Vader? Was it common knowledge within the upper ranks of the Empire? It must have been on some level, because the Inquisitors obviously know.

What about Yoda? Did he sense Anakin was alive? Can Obi-Wan contact Yoda, the same way Bail Organa contacted him, and ask?

Oh, the pressing questions…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part I” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part I”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Rupert Friend, Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Jimmy Smits
WRITERS:
Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini, Joby Harold 
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS: 
Inquisitors arrive on Tatooine looking for Jedi. Meanwhile, Princess Leia is kidnapped.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s kick this off on the right note: With gratitude. Ewan McGregor didn’t have to come back to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again. I’m sure his experience making the prequels was a mixed bag. And that’s to say nothing of how audiences reacted to the movies. (Much of the criticism was justified. But much wasn’t.) I actually spotted an recent interview he did with Rotten Tomatoes where he references the difficulties of making the prequels. So to have him come back nearly two decades after the fact is a major blessing for Star Wars fans.

And of course, that also goes for Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Smits, Joel Edgerton, and Bonnie Piesse returning as Darth Vader, Bail Organa, Owen Lars, and Beru Lars respectively. This may all be more than we deserve, quite frankly.

Age/timeline check: Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. Which is to say, nine years before the events of A New Hope. So naturally, the young Luke and Leia we see in this episode are about 10. And, as I’ve always read Obi-Wan was 25 in The Phantom Menace, that would make him about 47 here.

Our director for this episode, and the series at large, is Deborah Chow. She’s widely known for The High Cost of Living and The Possibilities of Fireflies. But Star Wars fans will know her as the director of two episodes of The Mandalorian: “Chapter 3: The Sin” and “Chapter 7: The Reckoning.” This is the first time one of these live action Star Wars shows has had one universal director. It’s a tall task. But Chow also has a lot to work with here in terms of story, the talent involved (not to mention her own talent), and the experience she now has working in the Star Wars universe. I’ve got high hopes.

One of the downsides of having Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett come out back to back? That’s a lot of desert stuff. I can’t say I’m looking forward to Andor as much as some people are (mostly because I hated Rogue One). But one of the upsides, at least judging by the trailer that just came out, is that we don’t see any desert scenes.

The episode, and the series at large, kick off with a quick five-minute recap of the prequels. To some, that’s probably the best way to watch the prequels. They might be right, actually. The contrast between the all the CGI backgrounds in the prequels and the actual places and sets in Kenobi is a stark one.

I must confess, having not seen all of Star Wars: Rebels, my familiarity with the Inquisitors is limited. But as I understand it, most or all of them are former Jedi Knights who’ve turned to the dark side and joined the Empire to hunt for Jedi in hiding.

At face value I don’t like that. Never have.

Much like having a planet full of Mandalorians devalues Boba and Jango Fett, having a big group of Sith inquisitors decreases the novelty of Darth Vader and his turn to the dark side. It also devalues Order 66. How effective could the big Jedi purge have been if enough survived that they needed to bring in Inquisitors to hunt them down?

Of course, that’s to take nothing away from the performances of Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitors or Moses Ingram as Reva.

Having Leia play such a pivotal role in the series is a big surprise. Coming in, I think we knew Jimmy Smits was going to be involved as Bail Organa. So a Leia cameo wouldn’t have been out of the blue. But this? This is beyond what I think anyone would have expected.

Vivien Lyra Blair, who plays Leia, does a fine job by child actor standards. The character is, thus far, written fairly well. I like that she’s characterized as, no pun intended, rebellious. Blair and Smits were able to create a father/daughter chemistry that felt very natural.

I appreciate that Obi-Wan has a job while in seclusion on Tatooine. That might be an odd thing to appreciate. But it’s one of those things that you (or at least I) never thought about when it came to the original movie. The guy had to make ends meet somehow, right? It makes me wonder if he had a job at the beginning of A New Hope.

I liked cynical Obi-Wan, i.e. the guy who refused to help his fellow Jedi in need. It speaks to him having spent a decade being beaten down by the desert. It’s a different character than we’re used to seeing.

Owen Lars refusing to give up Obi-Wan’s location was a wonderful character moment for him. For so long he’s been seen strictly as an antagonist for Luke. And maybe he is. But it’s always been in the spirit of wanting to do what’s best for his nephew and surrogate son.

It must be said that the chase scene between Leia and the bounty hunters did not come off very well. I’m not sure whether it was the actors, or the direction, or the editing, something else, or a combination of all of it. I understand and accept the notion that Leia knew the terrain better than they did, and was also smaller and harder to catch. But the impression I got was that Leia was moving very slowly, and that the hunters could have caught her quite easily if they’d simply picked up their pace a little bit.

We see that Obi-Wan buried he and Anakin’s lightsabers in the desert, presumably years ago when he first arrived. This is a nitpick, but how is he able to find that box again so quickly? Especially after 10 years. Did he pick that specific a spot? It just looked like a bunch of sand to me…

Overall, a good first episode. I can’t say I was blown away, but I definitely enjoyed it. Judging by premiere episodes alone, I’d say Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t quite as strong as The Mandalorian, but better than The Book of Boba Fett.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.