The nostalgia factor can get the best of Star Wars fanboy geeks such as myself. I had a little too much nostalgia dust in my eyes when I first saw the prequels, and I looked past the flaws to give the movies generally favorable reviews.
In retrospect, I still like the prequels (especially Revenge of the Sith), but they had major problems, and I perhaps went easy on them because I was just so happy the Star Wars story was continuing, with Lucas directing. I mean, C-3PO was on the movie screen again, for Christ’s sake.
I’m human. I was excited. I was a little too nice in those reviews.
Then the third trilogy happened. I still say The Force Awakens is one of the very best Star Wars films—almost perfect. The Last Jedi was a flawed, admirable and mostly enjoyable attempt. The Rise of Skywalker was a soul-crushing, cinematic apocalypse.
Now we are getting the Star Wars TV shows. The Mandalorian is a nice, retro blast. The Book of Boba Fett was only good when it was actually The Mandalorian.
The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi make The Rise of Skywalker look like a masterpiece: It’s a total shitshow.
These episodes have some of the worst action-scene and dialogue/acting editing the franchise has ever seen. It’s just abominable. Yet most of the early reviews of the two episodes are full-on raves. At last check, it’s scoring 88% on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. My take: This isn’t just nostalgia dust in a lot of eyes; nostalgia goo is being sprayed into those eyes as if dispensed from a close-range firehose.
I suppose there’s that part of me that sees the reaction, and is happy for all of my fellow Star Wars fans. They are joining hands in solidarity, perhaps humming or whistling that beloved Star Wars theme, and enjoying a nice, heaping serving of nostalgia that will pleasantly pass through their eyes, drop down into their digestive systems, and cohesively eject from their ass. I’m happy that they are happy, and I’m happy this production is blasting through them without major interruption or irregularity.
I also think they are all super fucking high.
The hunger for nostalgia and the return of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan has blinded some to the intrinsic, glaring flaws this show has in its first two hours. Sure, it might rally and save itself. It’s certainly intriguing that the show promises some sort of post-Sith, pre-A New Hope showdown between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, with Hayden Christensen reprising his role of the very burnt Anakin Skywalker/Darth. Never mind that Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan never made mention of any showdown before his final battle with Darth Vader in A New Hope. That guy was a dirty liar anyway, being all vague about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, not recognizing beloved droids, etc. He was just a lovable, lying jerk.
It looks like we are going to have to endure some sloppy, shoddy storytelling before that alleged showdown. Obi-Wan is now Ben Kenobi, disillusioned about the Jedi (just like Luke Skywalker was in The Last Jedi) and watching over Luke on Tatooine. He works at some sort of meat-packing plant; he lives in some cave; and he’s depressed and mopey as all get-go.
Planets away, a young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) looks to the stars, and fancies running around in the forest with her amusing, floating droid. Her happiness and carefree frolicking are interrupted by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His horribly acting ass, and some cronies, are set to kidnap her.
When I say this show is a shitshow, I ask you to carefully watch the staging of this first chase scene, in which Leia tries to evade her captors. Watch how the director gets zero coverage, how the child runs at the speed of a turtle, and how she still manages to evade her wannabe captors. The editing and staging do nothing to support the idea that Leia would get away in this instance. It’s staged; it’s horribly edited; it’s terribly acted. It’s preposterously bad. Another hilariously bad, terribly staged chase scene occurs again in the second episode.
If the chase scenes were the only problems, perhaps it could all be forgiven—but they’re just the start of the problems. There are heavy dialogue scenes that don’t work at all, because director Deborah Chow seems to be fond of using one, long take, and doesn’t use the power of editing to help her cast along. This makes people often look like they can’t act for shit, especially in the case of Moses Ingram as Inquisitor Reva. She’s just flailing onscreen, committing the worst kind of scenery-chewing. Now, I know Ingram can act; she’s shown major chops before in projects such as The Queen’s Gambit, yet she’s left to flounder and squirm in Obi-Wan.
Yes, McGregor makes a welcome return as the title character, but even he is often left hanging out there by terrible editing and scripting. The timing is way off.
This reeks of the worst form of conveyer-belt, franchise storytelling that became evident in Rise of Skywalker. This is the first of the recent Star Wars TV shows not to feature the guiding hand of Jon Favreau, and he is sorely missed. The show, with its cast of poorly developed and badly costumed characters, often plays more like Comic-Con cosplay than big-budget filmmaking.
These episodes were painful to watch—and that’s coming from a diehard fan who is doing his darnedest to enjoy himself. I chased these two episodes with some new Stranger Things chapters, and there’s just no comparison. Stranger Things has far more impressive, tighter storytelling.
Star Wars is coasting on the glory of its name. The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are a sloppy, unwatchable mess. I think once the nostalgia scales fall from all of those eyes, many will make this realization years from now at some blessed Star Wars convention.
The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are now streaming on Disney+. The next four episodes will be released on Wednesdays through June 22.