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Recommended: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+

Ewan McGregor's soulful performance anchors this instantly familiar Star Wars series.
  • Ewan McGregor in Obi-Wan Kenobi (Photo: Disney+)
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    Obi-Wan Kenobi | Disney+
    Six-Episode Limited Series (Sci-Fi) | TV-PG

    What's Obi-Wan Kenobi About?

    Ten years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, former Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi has settled into a life of seclusion on Tatooine. But when an old friend comes calling with an important mission, Kenobi must confront his past while being hunted by the Empire.

    Who's involved?

    • Ewan McGregor (Halston) reprises his performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi 17 years after his last live-action appearance in the role.
    • Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit) is Reva, the Third Sister, an Inquisitor hunting Jedi who seems to have a particular interest in finding Kenobi.
    • Rupert Friend (Homeland) is the sinister Grand Inquisitor, who was formerly a member of the Jedi Order himself.
    • Sung Kang (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) is the Fifth Brother, another Inquisitor who works with Reva and the Grand Inquisitor.
    • Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) is Owen Lars, the stepbrother of Anakin Skywalker who takes his son Luke into hiding.
    • Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems) is Nari, a Jedi hiding out on Tatooine.
    • Kumail Nanjiani is Haja Estree, a con man who may be able to help Obi-Wan with his mission.
    • Hayden Christensen (Shattered Glass) is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Obi-Wan’s former apprentice who embraced the Dark Side of the Force to become a Sith Lord. He returns to the role after playing it in the prequel films

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    Although still best known for their their clunky dialogue, convoluted storytelling, and over-reliance on CGI, the Star Wars prequels have been somewhat rehabilitated by time and an abundance of memes. Perhaps most importantly, the prequels are clearly a product of their creator George Lucas. At a time when many box office blockbusters feel interchangeable and lacking in personality, the prequels stand out because of their eccentricities. Lines like “Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo” are ridiculous, but they’re memorable nonetheless. Audiences who grew up with the films have come to appreciate them with some mix of irony and sincerity. Obi-Wan Kenobi takes advantage of that reevaluation by fully embracing the prequels, bringing back multiple characters and referencing events from those films. To that end, the series relies heavily on the viewer's pre-existing emotional investment in its characters.

    To be sure, it's not a perfect show. The acting and the dialogue can be rough, and the action isn't quite as memorable as the set pieces from the films or fellow Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Still, it's pleasantly nostalgic seeing McGregor in the role again after all this time. While he’s older and more hardened, he still has a soulful humanity and dry sense of humor that made his performance stand out in the prequel films.

    Like The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi takes a Love Boat-style approach to its casting, with new famous faces appearing in each episode. Uncut Gems director Benny Safdie, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Flea, and actor Kumail Nanjiani all make brief appearances. Rupert Friend plays a delightfully arch villain who looks like a PG-friendly Pinhead from Hellraiser, and Moses Ingram is enjoyably menacing as the show’s apparent primary antagonist. This approach could be distracting, but the Star Wars shows have generally done a good job of integrating their guest stars, and this one is no exception.

    Generally speaking, viewers will get what they're expecting here. For anyone who's seen the prequels, this show and McGregor's committed performance will satisfy the franchise itch.

    Pairs well with

    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated series featuring Obi-Wan that bridges the gaps between Star Wars Episodes II and III, also on Disney+.
    • Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009), television space opera at its finest, on Peacock.
    • Fargo (Season 3), which features McGregor playing twin brothers, on Hulu.

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
    Premiered May 27 on Disney+. New episodes drop Wednesdays through June 2.
    Created by: Deborah Chow.
    Starring: Ewan McGregor, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Joel Edgerton, Sung Kang, Flea, Kumail Nanjiani, Hayden Christensen, and Benny Safdie.
    Directed by: Deborah Chow.
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    TOPICS: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Disney+, Benny Safdie, Deborah Chow, Deborah Chow, Ewan McGregor, Flea, Hayden Christensen, Joel Edgerton, Kumail Nanjiani, Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, Sung Kang