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Obi-Wan Kenobi Draws Mixed Reviews, But Most Critics Agree New Disney+ Star Wars Series Has Promise

Obi-Wan Kenobi/Ben
(Image credit: Disney+)

It’s a big day for Star Wars fans, as Disney+ released the first two episodes of the new series Obi-Wan Kenobi. The six-episode series falls 10 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in the Star Wars universe timeline, and the two-part premiere had some huge surprises for fans. But what are the reviews saying about the long-awaited series? Will the new Disney+ offering deliver the epic Star Wars moments that fans are craving?

Ewan McGregor stars as the titular Obi-Wan, who is living in exile as Ben on Tatooine following the fall of the Jedi Order. The Jedi are officially an endangered species, and Anakin’s twins Luke and Leia are in hiding far away from their father. Ben has still been keeping a protective eye on young Luke from afar; what adventures await the Jedi? The series was directed by Deborah Chow, so let’s take a look at the first reactions to Obi-Wan Kenobi. CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell tweets that he loves the first two offerings, but they aren’t without fault, as one character simply doesn’t work, he says: 

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Caroline Framke of Variety agrees that the series picks up when Ben starts to give up his determination to stay hidden in Tatooine. The show also makes an effort to restore the significance of Leia’s story after years of her arc being undercut by Luke’s:

Unlike many other Star Wars series, though, this one doesn’t need to try too hard to establish itself as something different. In telling the stories of the galaxy’s most famous stars, Obi-Wan Kenobi just has to put one foot in front of the other, sow seeds of what’s to come, and have enough self-awareness to know both its limits and what the audience wants from these characters. On those fronts, at least, the show seems right on track.

Matt Purslow of IGN says the premiere episodes are “Great,” rating them 8 out of 10. This review says it’s a surprisingly weighty introduction to an emotional Star Wars story.

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s premiere is a surprisingly emotional chapter in the larger Star Wars saga. It’s layered and weighted, paving well-plotted pathways for what could be a very satisfying journey for the last(ish) Jedi. While not as accomplished in the action department as The Mandalorian, and (maybe) killing off one of its best characters a few episodes too soon, it’s already well on the way to telling one of the galaxy’s most well-balanced stories. As far as openings go, this is strong, and its promises have me hopeful for a show that could be one of the brightest stars in the Disney Plus portfolio.

Not all reactions are as optimistic. Dominic Patten of Deadline calls the series premiere an “empty vessel jammed with Easter eggs, tired Western motifs and clear script-by-committee pitfalls,” saying that seeing the title character chastened in exile is hard to sustain:

The first two episodes of the Ewan McGregor-starring miniseries are nearly all undiluted nostalgia with no wisdom to impart and not much of a story to tell. Lacking the charm of The Mandalorian and embracing the hackneyed efforts of The Book of Boba Fett, the adrift Obi-Wan Kenobi plays way too coy and cute to be taken seriously as anything more than s slick-ish subscriber grab.

Stephen Kelly of BBC Culture is willing to give Obi-Wan Kenobi the benefit of the doubt, even though there is reason to question if the series would have been better suited as a two-hour feature, and even though the Disney Star Wars era projects tend to make the universe less interesting by filling in timeline gaps and illuminating characters’ backstories:

Still, there is a lot to enjoy here. The dynamic between Obi-Wan and Leia is a delight, with the scene in which he is reminded of her mother (Natalie Portman's Padme) proving particularly poignant, while there are pulpy shades of John Wick in the way that Obi-Wan is plagued by bounty hunters throughout the city. Kumail Nanjiani's fraudulent Jedi, who wears a bath robe and uses magnets to move objects across the room, will perhaps divide opinion. The joke is undoubtably [sic] funny, but there's something about Star Wars being this wacky and self-aware that feels jarring.

Blake Hawkins of CBR says Obi-Wan Kenobi's first two episodes may not be surprising, but they are exactly what Star Wars fans wanted from the new Disney+ series. This review says the first episode sets everything in motion, avoiding the pitfall of a slow-developing plot like The Book of Boba Fett:

While the plot, dialogue, and general feel of the first two episodes were on point, there was one particular issue -- and it's not a new issue. Ever since Obi-Wan Kenobi's first trailer came out, fans have been slightly displeased with the look of The Grand Inquisitor and The Fifth Brother. Ultimately, they looked like human actors in make-up rather than alien species. Given Star Wars' typical attention to detail, that one aspect comes up short. Even still, that is easy to overlook with everything else that the series did right.

The first two episodes of the Star Wars series are pulling in pretty positive numbers on Rotten Tomatoes as well. Obi-Wan Kenobi has garnered an 88% rating, with the audience score just slightly lower at 74%, as of this writing. If you’d like to check out this new series, Episodes 1 and 2 are available for streaming with a Disney+ subscription, and new episodes will be released each Wednesday through June 22. 

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.