Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi

2 stars

Air dates: 5/27/2022 to 6/22/2022
Written by Hossein Amini, Stuart Beattie, Hannah Friedman, Joby Harold, Andrew Stanton
Directed by Deborah Chow

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

June 28, 2022

Note: Spoilers for all episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi follow.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a major disappointment given its resources, cast, and the general goodwill that was built up from The Mandalorian. It's easily the least of the Disney+ Star Wars streaming series so far, including the middling Book of Boba Fett, which managed to become way more fun in its second half when it essentially became Mandalorian season 2.5. Between this and Boba Fett, one wonders how quickly the Star Wars Extended Streaming Universe will run out of steam or have the fans turn against it. The film franchise took just four years to go from "victorious comeback" to "temporarily shelved for retooling" thanks to the oversaturation with five movies in that short period. Is the streaming TV universe headed for a similar fate with so many projects on the horizon?

Obi-Wan Kenobi has all the signs of a show that was retooled from a movie script and expanded, needlessly, into a six-part series. It's sloppy, full of weakly motivated and contrived scenes, and suffers — even more than I had predicted — because it has to leave intact a status quo that means nothing major between Episode III and Episode IV can happen.

This is not so much an organized essay as a series of general reactions, random musings, and a cataloging of especially head-shaking moments:

  • All around, the biggest problem here is that this is relentlessly "meh." It's not awful (although it suffers from lots of poorly written plot moments), but it's certainly not anywhere close to good. There's just a general sense of narrative malaise throughout.
  • This really has that long-movie serial-TV pace, where part one is an extended setup where the hero is in a state of near paralysis. At this point, I feel like I've seen this type of first episode a hundred times.
  • Kenobi (pre)follows the lead of Luke in Episode VIII — stuck on a rock and not movable to action because the Jedi got their asses kicked and he can't risk messing everything up by ... um, taking any sort of proactive action? Meanwhile, Owen wants nothing to do with him and says to stay away from Luke, and he's stuck in a dead-end job with a crappy boss who exploits all the desperate labor. This is very obviously designed to be "How Obi-Wan Got His Groove Back." Ewan McGregor is predictably reliable, but even he can't make us care about a character who is so loath to get involved.
  • Kumail Nanjiani for the win. He injects some much-needed fun into this overly stern and serious show. He plays a faux-Jedi con man who swindles money while kinda-sorta helping out the desperate where he can. A little bit of comic persona can go a long way in a story like this.
  • The girl who plays supposedly-10-year-old Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is really small and looks more like she's 6 or 7. I found this really distracting. (According to Wikipedia, the actor who plays her just turned 10 in June 2022; I guess that would make her 8 or 9 when this was filmed.) Also, she's just not great as child actors go. Definitely not Jake-Lloyd-as-Anakin bad, but not good.
  • The Empire is hunting for surviving Jedi throughout the galaxy. They've come to Tatooine to find a Jedi who, coincidentally, is not Obi-Wan. There's some decent tension where the Grand Inquisitor terrorizes the public in his search (and squabbles with his underlings). Living under the Empire is a totalitarian siege mentality.
  • Third Sister Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram) is obsessed with finding Obi-Wan and serving him to Vader so she can assume the role of Grand Inquisitor. Ingram plays the part effectively and fiercely, and her backstory is interesting (she was on Coruscant as a Jedi Youngling when Anakin slaughtered everyone at the Jedi Temple), but her overall motivation is constantly shifting because of her arc and hidden agenda, and then it goes off the rails in the final episode.
  • All foot-chase scenes involving Leia are pretty terribly staged. Everyone should be able to just grab this little kid up, and yet they keep diving at her and seemingly purposely missing her like they're in a Three Stooges routine.
  • Hey look! It's Flea!
  • Leia is kidnapped to serve as bait for Obi-Wan, so that Reva can capture Obi-Wan and bring him to Vader. Except how does Reva know that Leia is so important to Obi-Wan? Sheer dumb luck? There's no way Reva can know Leia's true importance, but the episode doesn't account for Leia's role in this game if her true nature remains a secret, which it does to those who matter.
  • So, Leia knew Obi-Wan when she was 10? And this never came up 10-plus years later when everything with the two Death Stars went down? It's a secret that she can keep better than Section 31 burying Discovery's time-travel into the future.
  • Luke really got the short end of the stick as a kid. Leia gets to grow up as a princess in the metropolis of Alderaan, whereas Luke has to grow up in the crime-ridden craphole desert that is Tatooine. Then again, Leia also eventually has to watch Alderaan get blowed up real good, so maybe it's a wash.
  • I was really curious who the voice of Darth Vader would be and how they would address it. They went to the trouble of casting Hayden Christensen as Vader, and it seemed unlikely that they wouldn't use his voice somehow, and it also seemed like it might be time to move beyond the availability of James Earl Jones for the Star Wars Extended Streaming Universe. But, no, there was James Earl Jones' voice as Vader as always. This is not a complaint.
  • What's really missing here is truly effective storytelling. The whole imperiling of Leia does not get the job done, because obviously, she will be fine and Vader will not learn her true identity. So we're reduced to moving plot pieces from A to B to C and it's just way too mechanical and uninvolving.
  • The first showdown between Vader and the diminished Obi-Wan lacks juice, but at least it feels like something with meaning behind it. But this is the story coasting on its larger scope from what has come before.
  • The whole showdown at Jabiim between Reva and Obi-Wan is really tediously executed and contrived. While Reva is trying to break down the door, Leia is up in the ductwork trying to rewire the ship bay door so it can open and the rebel ship can escape. She's up there a ridiculously long time while half the episode plays out; the editors should've figured out how to make this less silly and static. Then, only after Leia has opened the door and the stormtroopers come in blasting, do the rebels think to board the escape ship. WTF? Sure, let's just stand around waiting rather than getting ready to leave!
  • The Grand Inquisitor, whom Reva appeared to have killed at the end of the second episode, turns up not dead in a twist that mostly just had me scratching my head as to why this was even a character we needed to bring back into the story. (Does he have plot armor because he's in one of the animated shows?)
  • Even more head-scratching is the fact that Vader, after Reva's true motives are revealed and they have a major lightsaber duel which Vader wins, inexplicably leaves Reva alive and just ... walks away? To leave her to ponder her crushing defeat or something? No, there is no reason for Vader, who kills people without delay or remorse all the time, to do this except to service the plot, which needs Reva for its final act. Speaking of...
  • Reva survives, conveniently finds the incompetently dropped recording detailing Luke's identity and location and is suddenly magically on Tatooine? How did she go from wounded on the ground on Jabiim to Tatooine in between episodes (with no ship), while no time has passed in the other plot, where Vader's star destroyer is pursuing the fleeing rebels. Speaking of...
  • Obi-Wan decides to abandon the ship so Vader will be forced to pursue him instead of the rebels Obi-Wan is trying to protect. This is presented as a false either/or choice where Vader must either pursue his obsession with Obi-Wan, or follow the rebels, which are the more tactically important mission. But Vader is on a star destroyer, which should have plenty of other ships capable of carrying out both missions simultaneously. (And why can't this star destroyer overtake or overpower the ship it's firing on?) As the star destroyer slowly turns to chase Obi-Wan's ship, it's almost comically silly.
  • Hey, this isn't all bad. We finally get the big showdown with Vader and the now-refreshed and powerful and groove-gotten-on Obi-Wan, and it's a good one. Lightsaber duels, Force-hurling of people and boulders, and a titanic struggle between the master and the apprentice, with no shortage of sound and fury. Ultimately, Obi-Wan slashes Vader's helmet open and he (and we) see the burned remains of Anakin beneath the mask. The way they electronically meld Anakin's and Vader's voices is effective, and it finally gives Christensen a chance to get his voice on the soundtrack as Vader.
  • So Vader is defeated, and Obi-Wan just ... walks away? Because he can't bring himself to kill his already-effectively-dead-by-evil-transformation apprentice? So Vader can keep on Vadering for the next decade? It's asinine. The only reason he can't kill Vader here is because it's written on a stone tablet that he needs to be alive for Episode IV.
  • Reva's decision to attempt to murder Luke just doesn't feel like it's motivated by anything except to create one more crisis to solve and action sequence to execute, as she stages an exhaustingly trite home invasion at Owen and Beru's. At least this is ultimately solved by Reva deciding on her own not to revisit evil upon the child of the one who wronged her, but this was a rather needless detour.
  • Hey, look! It's Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon's ghost! (This felt more obligatory than anything, but the Star Wars name has pull.)

I dunno. Star Wars, like everything else, just seems to suffer in its relentless need to produce ever-more product. There is nothing remotely necessary about Obi-Wan Kenobi, and aside from here or there, the writers and director Deborah Chow can't make this feel truly vital or alive. Instead it feels routine and obligatory. Some foregone conclusions can be made interesting. Alas, not this one.

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76 comments on this post

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Jammer
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
Bonus review now posted!
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Jason R.
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
The show is a masterpiece compared with the sequels or the latest season of Picard. Faint praise, I know. But competent writing is becoming a rare commodity in this genre and the writing is at least competent.
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Quincy
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 1:33pm (UTC -6)
I'm really surprised to see a forum for this. I really enjoyed the Mandalorian. I never touched Boba Fett, but I was stoked for Obi-Wan. I watched the first few episodes and was very disappointed. It was totally miscast. Young leia was such a brat I got more sick of her with every passing moment on the screen. The villains were so lackluster they couldn't menace my morning bowl of cereal. I quit watching it. I didn't think Jammer would pay it any attention.
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Chris
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
I only disagree on young Leia. I thought the actress was amazing - albeit a bit young - and she stole every scene she was in. Okay, the chase scenes were stupid ... I also liked the upbeat variation on the imperial march as Reva's theme. But yeah, Star Wars should move on, the prequel stuff just never worked.
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Walding
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
@Quincy if you like the Mandalorian and plan to watch season 3 you should watch episodes 5,6 and 7 of the Book of Boba because as mentioned they are effectively season 2.5 and contain stuff that will be required to understand season 3.
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Tom
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 5:21pm (UTC -6)
I mean, yeah it was pretty meh, but worse than the Boba Fett series? At least with Obi-Wan I didn't have to skip through a ton of extended video game fight sequences to get to the end.
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Shannon
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 5:29pm (UTC -6)
First off, I couldn't disagree with Jammer more regarding Vivien Lyra Blair. She is an outstanding young actress who stole the show, and she had Carrie Fisher's mannerisms as Leia down to a T. Okay, so she looked much younger than 10, so what, that's just nitpicking. As for Moses Ingram, I also disagree with Jammer, as she was bloody awful. Perhaps it was the writing and/or directing, but her performance always felt forced and disingenuous... Yes, there were plot holes and contrivances, but you can find those in just about every Star Wars film ever made. How many laser blasts were shot at Luke diving towards the Death Star that just happened to miss? How many laser blasts were fired at our heroes as they ran down a corridor that just happened to miss? And shooting a torpedo down a hole destroys the entire Death Star? It's really that badly designed? C'mon, it's fun a space fantasy that isn't supposed to all tie together neatly.
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Quibbles
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
The more I think about this show, the more I realize it was just plain bad. To me, Disney Star Wars has mostly been fine: not worthy of much consideration one way or the other. Just more endless product, with the exception of The Mandalorian S1-2, which felt fresh and exciting. But after this and Book of Boba Fett, I’m done with Star Wars TV.

At first I thought I was being unfair to the Obi-Wan show because it was just different from the Obi-Wan story I had in my head. I was hoping for a more mystical, introspective experience. Think about this man and what he’s been through. His apprentice, who he’s virtually raised from childhood, who became like a brother to him, fell to the Dark Side and became the most evil man in the galaxy. How much guilt and personal responsibility must Obi-Wan feel? We also know he went on some sort of spiritual quest / meditation journey to commune with Qui-Gon and learn how to become a Force ghost. So that’s what I wanted: meditation, Force-guided vision quests. Sure, maybe get Obi-Wan off Tatooine and send him on an adventure to broaden the scope of the show. But what I wanted, and what I think Star Wars in its current form is completely incapable of offering, is *interiority.*

Book of Boba Fett had the same flaw. Who is Boba Fett as a person, not just a guy in a cool suit? What does he want? Why should we care about him? What does he think about the world around him? Similarly, the Obi-Wan show holds its main character at a distance. What does he think about the fact that Anakin fell to the dark side? And the fact that all his closest friends and comrades are dead? Does he feel responsibility? Trauma? PTSD? All of the heavy lifting is done by Ewan McGregor’s acting: powerful, but insufficient. I wanted to know this character better, but all we got was shallow, samey, Star Wars-y action.

Seeing Jammer list each ridiculous plot point one after another really drives the point home. I was literally throwing up my hands in disbelief. You can’t send a couple of TIE Fighters to take care of that *unarmed and defenseless* transport ship? Vader leaves Reva alive and walks away because… why? Obi-Wan walks away and leaves Vader alive because… why? Reva doesn’t immediately slaughter the helpless Owen and Beru because… why? Because the plot requires these characters to remain alive for subsequent movies / episodes. It’s not all bad. Obi-Wan and Leia forging a bond is sweet and genuine. Ep 5 did some cool stuff cutting back and forth between Anakin and Obi-Wan’s past duel to the present day, showing how Obi-Wan anticipates Vader’s moves because he understands his old weaknesses. But overall, it just feel drab, like a million other Star Wars productions with interchangeable planets and forgettable side characters.

One of my favorite things about Star Trek is that under its sci-fi umbrella, it can really be any genre: drama, comedy, courtroom shows, war stories, fantasy romps, you name it. Big action episodes and quiet character episodes coexist side by side. That’s what’s kept it going for so long. There’s nothing about the Star Wars universe that says you can’t do the same thing. But for some reason, the Powers That Be have decided that every single Star Wars production must have the same tone and genre: action-packed space fantasy. (Because of the intense fan reaction against the political elements in the prequels? Maybe.) There *must* be lightsaber battles, blaster shootouts, and fighters zipping around to make it Star Wars. The formula is becoming so tired and stale, and with this show, we've officially hit burnout.

Am I asking too much from a space fantasy “for kids” (heavy air quotes)? I don’t think so. The Knights of the Old Republic games have depth: a rich universe and memorable characters. The first six movies, with uneven execution, have plenty of interesting themes bouncing around. Star Wars can be about something. Disney seems determined to make it about nothing but itself, an ouroboros recycling its own familiar faces, lines, settings, and situations into infinity.
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Derek
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
I'd say it's a 2.5. It's "fine" but nothing more. Honestly my main disappointment is the end credits music is absolutely bland compared to Mandalorian and Boba Fett. Ludwig Goransson's absence is immediately felt and it affected the overall vibe of the show for me. Oh well, at least it featured Hayden Christensen's best performances in the Star Wars universe.

PS - Jammer, as a reader of your reviews for literal decades, let me just mention I LOL'd at the timely use of your classic phrase "blowed up real good." :-)
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Barristan
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
"Yo Obi, it's your boy Bail here, what up. Hope you haven't been captured and the Empire isn't listening to this, because we don't want them to find out about the secret children, especially the boy on Tatooine with Owen. Did I mention he was on Tatooine?"

They were giving Krusty's accountant a run for stupidest phone call of all time there ("Oh crap! I shouldn't have said it was a secret..."), except the one on The Simpsons was an intentional joke.

The writing on this show was mind-bogglingly lazy. I just about lost it at the Scooby Doo trenchcoat "disguise" in the 4th episode. They managed to make the Empire look more incompetent than in the original film (not an easy task).

I was also stunned at how cheap-looking and badly shot many of the scenes were (including the fights, unfortunately), considering how much money this show cost. The prequels' dialogue certainly needed another few passes too, but the lightsaber duel in Phantom Menace looks like a master class of cinema compared to anything in this new series. The show's generic music certainly suffers in comparison to the films as well.

So yeah, I would definitely agree with Jammer's assessment that this was a big missed opportunity. Book of Boba also fell completely flat for me, so Disney+ Star Wars is on a roll of mediocrity at the moment. Hoping that Andor has a better creative team and more successful execution.
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Leif
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 8:56pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer thanks so you won't be reviewing each episode then Jammer? Thanks for sharing anyway. Will you review book of Bobba Fett mand hopefully Dr Who at some point?
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Troy G
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
I bet you wish you could go back and write Season 2 Picard like this
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JohnTY
Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
Great review.

I totally agree - with about 96% :)
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Tim C
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 1:46am (UTC -6)
100% agreed Jammer - there were just way too many logical inconsistencies in the plotting of this show for me to ever be able to let go and just enjoy it. For every good scene scattered across the six episodes, there were another dozen that either dragged or didn't make sense. What a terrible waste of Ewan McGregor!
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Dom
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 5:37am (UTC -6)
I agree with this for the most part, except I do think the actress playing young Leia was pretty good. About as good as could be expected for a child actor who also had to look just like Leia. Otherwise, yeah this entire show felt underwhelming. I also could not stand the shaky cam. The camera moved around so much and took me right out of the episode.
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artymiss
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 7:05am (UTC -6)
@Quincy

As Walding mentions the final three episodes of Boba Fett are essential viewing if you like The Mandalorian as they are actually three bonus episodes of The Mandalorian! I loved them.

Obi-Wan, however, was very disappointing. I stopped watching after the first three episodes. I didn't find it a wreck like Picard, instead lacklustre and a drag. I read a review where someone described it as a Disney Princess rescue story and that summed it up for me. Maybe if I was 8 I would've loved it.
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Quincy
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 8:43am (UTC -6)
@Walding
@artymiss

Thanks. I'll check it out.
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Kyle A
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 11:01am (UTC -6)
This show was super OK. It's not great, but it's not terrible either. This really should've been a movie. You can see where areas were fluffed out to make it a show when it wasn't necessary. I felt the scripting would've been tighter too and Ewan/Hayden/Liam and James Earl Jones all deserved to be on the big screen. It would've just "hit" different.
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Latex Zebra
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
It was fine. Fun to watch with my son but no jeopardy does kind of reduce any real drama. Which is often the problem with prequels.
I'm pinching comments I saw posted on another review here but I agree with them.
It picked up the characters, moved them around a bit and put them back exactly where they were.
If it didn't exist, it wouldn't matter.
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lizzzi
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 2:08pm (UTC -6)
I pretty much agree with Jammer on this one, although I did like Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia. I thought she did great, and if she was a little small for ten, I still think her size was within the norms for that age. (One of my daughters was that size at ten, so I think I'm on firm ground here.) I enjoyed seeing Hayden Christensen, Liam Neeson, and hearing James Earl Jones. And Ewan McGregor carried the whole story, of course. He did a great job with what he was given. I just enjoyed it for what it was and took it for light summer entertainment. I liked it better than cringey, toe-curling DSC or PIC. Luckily, I'm finding a lot of ST and SW fiction out there in paperbacks....I'm actually re-reading Vulcan's Glory by D.C.Fontana. Great stuff--and next up will be a Pike book-- Burning Dreams by Margaret Wander Bonanno. I have The Courtship of Princess Leia, too. I don't know...that one might be dumb. Anyway, if we can't stand the TV shows, there are still our books! I remember finally getting a satisfactory ending to ENT by reading the several follow-up paperbacks.
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Jimmy
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
As Disney navigated through Mandalorian, Book of Boba, and Kenobi, you could almost see the balancing act to extract maximum fan nostalgia at minimal cost.

Setting aside the writing quality, it strikes me as questionable reasoning to introduce a central new character such as Reva in the same series where you are bringing back TWO foundational characters that spanned several films. Even Lucas didn’t do this in the OT - both Jabba and Palpatine were developed a bit in dialogue before taking the stage as a baddie.

I think this is part of the negative reaction to Reva. The actress is fine, the lines she is given…well. But there is this constant sense of undeserved centrality. Why are we focusing on this person? What has she done to earn such an important rank? Plus, she would be older. Her reasoning, behavior, and words just don’t belong to someone who would be in her position.
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Plo Clone
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
My head says 2 stars but my heart says 3 stars. Maybe 2 and a half. Er, 2 and 3 quarters.
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MercerCreate
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
Jammer basically summed up how I felt. there was no story here.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 6:30pm (UTC -6)
I felt like the final episode was more about backfilling minor plot inconsistencies with ANH introduced earlier rather than telling a compelling story. Everything seemed like an exercise in the writers saying: aha you thought we broke continuity but see it all fits! And it does, into one incredibly mediocre pointless exercise.

Spoiler

Obi Wan beating Vader just felt wrong somehow. It didn't work story wise as I just didn't buy Obi Wan at this point in his life defeating Vader and more importantly it didn't work thematically.

I mean just the image of Obi Wan flinging boulders at Vader, beating him into submission with raw force power was just wrong for the character. It's like Obi Wan just gave into the dark side or something. And I have no idea why. Revenge? Anger? Hate? Leia was safe by this point. Vader knew nothing about Luke. Since when do Jedi behave like this?

Even the act of sparing Vader seems somehow.. spiteful. Is this really how Obi Won should act?

Getting back his mojo should have meant more than just Obi Wan regaining his badassnery and wiping the floor with Vader. I mean whatever happened to "wars not make one great"?

Anyway like Quibbles I thought this could have been quieter, more introspective - more Logan and less Apocalypse.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
I did like that one line from Vader / Anakin to Obi Won: "I am not your failure" (sort of) absolving and forgiving Obi Won by telling him he's not responsible for how thing's turned out. Who knew the black masked prick could be magnanimous?

I also enjoy how Sidious basically orders him to drop the hunt for Obi Won and he just has to do it. Lol like a beaten dog.

It really isn't all bad. Like I said earlier at least the writing is competent. But it would have been far better as a movie and far better with a focus on the *characters* and not lightsaber /rockthrowing.
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Mike Lindell
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
I'd give it three stars. The only really questionable elements were the shaky cam/ poorly conceived directorial/camera choices, the sometimes shoddy VFX, and the fact that it was clearly a movie padded with filler.

And yes, Obi not killing Vader at the end made no sense, but whatever. It worked for me in the moment.
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Shasarak
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
"Kenobi... stuck on a rock and not movable to action because the Jedi got their asses kicked and he can't risk messing everything up by ... um, taking any sort of proactive action?"

This may not be that interesting to watch, but it is at least justified in-universe. The surviving Jedi are being hunted down by dark-side Force users. He has to be careful not to give away who he is, or someone will inevitably report it to the inquisitors. Also, using Force-based powers is probably something other Force-users can sense if it happens close by, which is why he is so reluctant to use his Jedi abilities in episode 2.


"Except how does Reva know that Leia is so important to Obi-Wan?"

She doesn't. She knows that Leia is Bail Organa's adopted daughter, and that Bail and Obi-Wan used to be very close; she figures that if Leia is abducted by Imperial-linked forces, Bail will have no choice but to contact Obi-Wan to ask him for help, as only a Jedi would have the necessary combat and infiltration skills to mount a black-ops rescue.


"The girl who plays supposedly-10-year-old Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) is really small and looks more like she's 6 or 7."

She kind of has to be small, because Carrie Fisher looks very short compared to all the other actors in ANH. I actually quite liked her performance - she was sassy in a way that I could believe would develop into Leia's sassy arrogance in another ten years or so, and was obviously imitating some of Carrie Fisher's mannerisms at times.


"Reva's decision to attempt to murder Luke just doesn't feel like it's motivated by anything except to create one more crisis to solve"

Reva's true motive, right from the start, is that she wants to get revenge on Vader for killing her fellow younglings. That's the reason why she is so obsessed with finding Obi-Wan - because she knows that locating Obi-Wan is the only thing that will bring Vader within striking distance.

After she actually takes her shot at Vader, and loses miserably, she still wants to get revenge on him somehow. She figures out from Bail's message that Luke must be Vader's son, and goes after him because she wants to kill Vader's family as revenge for him killing her substitute family (her fellow younglings). A convenient bonus is that she also gets revenge on Obi-Wan for using her as a pawn against Vader.


"The Grand Inquisitor... (Does he have plot armor because he's in one of the animated shows?)"

Yes: all of the inquisitors apart from Reva appear in the animated series "Rebels", which is set a few years later. (I like to think they apparently killed the Grand Inquisitor just to piss off the fans who are over-obsessed with continuity).


I actually quite liked this series. It was a lot better than TBOBF, anyway. I thought the overall structure was interesting - in particular, the fact that each episode strongly referenced the corresponding movie "episode" from the prequels and original trilogy. (E.g. episode 2 took place in a Coruscant-like neon-lit city, while episode 4 followed the plot of ANH quite closely, right down to the bad guys deliberately allowing the heroes to escape because there's a hidden tracker device).

McGregor was good, Vader was bad-ass and seriously evil, and there was some satisfying action. All in all, it could have been a lot worse.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
By the way what is up with the Grand Inquisitor? Why does he look like a cyborg? I know he used to be Jedi Temple guard but did someone drop him in a lava pool like Vader?
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Nick
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 8:51pm (UTC -6)
I liked it, a solid 3 stars from me, but I’m grading it on a curve given the circumstances. Any story about Obi Wan, Vader, Luke, and Leia between episodes 3 and 4 has signifiant limitations. You really can’t do anything too creative or original and any story they come up with won’t be as immersive since everyone knows how everything must turn out. The series can’t have any greater significance due to canon limitations.

Given those constraints I thought they did a pretty good job. The acting was solid overall and the pacing was good. It kept my interest throughout.
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KiminAsia
Wed, Jun 29, 2022, 10:48pm (UTC -6)
Well spelt out concerns, Jammer. Leaving Vader alive just deflated the whole effort, though as you note there was no choice given canon. One thing that should be lighlighted was the largely weak production values. I was expecting Mandalorian type quality, and it fell short, especially in a few fight scenes that were so dark I was reaching for more remote control to check the brightness setting.
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Booming
Thu, Jun 30, 2022, 12:30am (UTC -6)
I give it zero stars!
Why?
Because I haven't seen it and never will.
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SlackerInc
Thu, Jun 30, 2022, 3:35am (UTC -6)
I watched the first episode and some of the writing was so groan-inducingly cheesy I tapped out immediately. Life's too short.

I agree that "The Mandalorian" and the Mando episodes of the Boba Fett show were quite good. We'll see if they can right the ship when that show comes back.
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Dreubarik
Thu, Jun 30, 2022, 6:01am (UTC -6)
Worth remarking is what an awful job director Deborah Chow did here, not to mention the extremely bad editing. I have trouble thinking of another such mainstream production with this level of poor craftmanship. On top of ludicrously unnecessary shaky cams and bad judgement when it comes to shots, there are evident errors in match cuts that not even a film student would do (remember when Obi Wan flees Vader by running through the right of the screen, and then emerges apparently in the same location through the left of the screen, making it appear as he's doubled back when he hasn't?).

So I have a hard time judging the performances by Moses Ingram and Vivien Lyra Blair here. I wasn't impressed by either, but frankly I think it was down to the direction rather than the actors. It is very hard to look convincing given the framing of many of the scenes (Ingram gets lots of odd low lateral angles while she fiercly runs across places, not to mention the weird parkour moment) and how the actors were likely directed. Even Ewan McGregor didn't shine in many scenes, though obviously he still manages to elevate others. Only Joel Edgerton broadly worked for me here.

In sum: yes, the story is tremendously poor and full of plot holes, contrivances and contradictory dialogue ("Have you come to destroy me, Obi Wan?" asks Vader after HE chased Obi Wan across space to some remote moon), but even more baffling is how cheap and bad the filmmaking was. And by the way, it's the second time: The Book of Boba Fett also looked amateurish. What the hell is going on at Lucasfilm?
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Dreubarik
Thu, Jun 30, 2022, 6:02am (UTC -6)
*it was mean to say Obi Wan reappears through the right of the screen again.
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Yanks
Thu, Jun 30, 2022, 11:51am (UTC -6)
I watched this. I'm not really sure why. I could have just jumped in the last episode and taken in anything of worth this series had to offer.

The ever controversial "3rd Sister" was another Disney "woke" insertion. Horribly written. Initially I gave the actress the benefit of the doubt but she ended up being horrible. No range whatsoever. She was either screaming or talking very softly. Her line delivery was just bad. The only plus to this character was her looks. I have no problem with the introduction of new characters as long as their role means something. This was a horribly written character. I believe they knew this when they went out with a message preempting any nay-sayers. I'd be willing to bet that a HUGE percentage of these "racist DM's" were injected by Disney. They needed to attempt to quell any criticism of this new character. This all sounds mighty familiar. Sony did the same thing with the all female ghostbusters movie to the point of deleting social media criticisms and preventing further posting on the horrible movie.

We knew the following characters were not going to die:

Vader
Obi-Wan
Luke
Leia

So the writers needed to well... WRITE and give this series meaning. The ONLY thing of any value that came of this was Anakin absolved Obi-Wan any responsibility/guilt for creating Vader.

… and we got that in the last episode.

This series was a soup sandwich. Too many WTF headscratchers to even mention. They make Vader look like an idiot by not killing the 3rd sister. Hell, the lead inquisitor should have done it.

IMO the only acceptable redemption for the 3rd sister would have been to become a protector for Leia.

We knew up front that they were spending much less $$$ on this series. I could care less what the effects look like as long as the story is meaningful and engaging. Hell, I LOVE TOS, repeatedly rewatch all the episodes, and ALL their effects were cheesy by today's standards.

I think you're too gracious here Jammer. I'll go 1 star because I like Ewan McGregor and the last battle between Obi-Wan and Vader was pretty cool.
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Shannon
Fri, Jul 1, 2022, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
@Nick Well said! There are canon limitations here that I'm sure the writers were grappling with, however the themes of this limited series were spot on. After 10 years, Obi-Wan is a broken man riddled with guilt over what happened, feeling more and more responsible for Anakin's turn to the dark side and the defeat of the Jedi Order. We see young Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair did an awesome job portraying her, had Carrie Fischer's mannerisms pegged!) with an adventurous spirit, wise beyond her years, and an incredible inner strength. By tapping into her strength, and learning there is a huge underground helping surviving Jedi and those with "force sensitivities", Obi-Wan gets his mojo back.

As for Obi-Wan defeating Vader, I think that makes perfect sense. We saw in the flashbacks that Anakin was always stronger, but Obi-Wan knew how to use that uncontrolled aggression against him, and he did that again here. Why didn't he kill him this time? Perhaps the force prevented him from doing so, because we all know that despite what Anakin has done, he is the chosen one that eventually fulfills the prophecy (or at least we thought he did until these latest movies with Rey, but that's a convo for another day).

Were there plot holes? Yeah, sure. Was some of the acting bad? Yes, definitely (Moses Ingram was bloody awful, I don't care what anyone says). Could the writers have come up with something better? Of course, but you can say that about any story... In the end, I thought this was an entertaining series that answered a question I've long pondered, what was Obi-Wan doing in the 19 years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. With 9 years left, I'd love to see them do another one, but perhaps this time make it a 2-hour movie on Disney+.

I agree with @Nick's 3-star rating.
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Steve Rage
Sat, Jul 2, 2022, 3:13pm (UTC -6)
Because Star Wars, like a lot of modern Trek now and Phase 4 Marvel, seemingly hires it's writers, directors and producers because they fit a diversity quota as opposed to a) being good at their job and in this medium/genre and b) being enthusiastic fans of the product.

When a talented enthusiastic fan of the product does turn up - see Jon Favreau, you get gold.
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Mike Lindell
Sat, Jul 2, 2022, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
@Steve Rage

Wouldn't go that far. Favreau wrote Book of Boba and hired Rodriguez to direct, and Obi Wan was better than that, both directorially and writingwise.
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Booming
Sun, Jul 3, 2022, 1:17am (UTC -6)
If you want to talk about too much diversity, let's talk about this forum. Did you know that 100% of reviews on this forum are written by non whites! Of the hundreds of reviews not a single one was written by a white person!!

By god, at the top of this page there are the names of the writers. It's five people. One white woman, one Iranian born Brit and three heterosexual white guys. Could we not blindly believe any white replacement propaganda attempt that stumbles into this forum? The only diversity I can see in the NuTrek team is Jewish which certainly is too diverse for some groups.

Look at the writers names of marvel 4: Eric Pearson (Black Widow); Destin Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham & Andrew Lanham (Shang-Chi); Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (Spider Man); Michael Waldron & Jade Halley Bartlett.

And produced by Kevin Feige. The only "not 100% whites" are Cretton and Callaham (both have one asian parent). Yes, it's a real avalanche of diversity.
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philadlj
Wed, Jul 6, 2022, 9:06pm (UTC -6)
"You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did." Really good line, delivered with a devilish smirk. Maybe my favorite moment of the series, which was, in the end, a two-hour long movie stretched out to about six. It should have just been a film.
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Yanks
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
@Steve Rage

"Because Star Wars, like a lot of modern Trek now and Phase 4 Marvel, seemingly hires it's writers, directors and producers because they fit a diversity quota as opposed to a) being good at their job and in this medium/genre and b) being enthusiastic fans of the product."

Yup
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SC
Tue, Jul 19, 2022, 5:18pm (UTC -6)
Reva's storyline makes no sense. She witnessed the younglings get killed, admits she wants revenge against Vader, then tries to murder Luke. Hu? What? So she wants to emulate Vader now? Obi-Wan leaving Vader alive is so stupid. I'll admit to enjoying the first episode, it's Obi, it's Luke, it's Leia! But boy did it go downhill.

Think about this, they have the whole Star Wars universe to play in, they could do just about anything, and instead we got that, a watered down TV movie. It has no real purpose. It didn't achieve anything or add anything to the Star Wars saga, it's just there. But as long as Disney can add a few more subscribers
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SC
Tue, Jul 19, 2022, 5:24pm (UTC -6)
I will say this, young Leia was extremely well cast. I thought the actress did a fine job, shame about the storyline. Or the lack of storyline.
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Anon
Thu, Jul 21, 2022, 3:37am (UTC -6)
Leia's age was distracting as all hell the entire way through. It doesn't matter how many times you say "She's 10." You are what the screen says you are, and the screen says you are a stubby little 7 year old who is written like a sassy adult for some reason. And for the love of God why are there chase scenes with her? When you have a very obvious weakness, you should try and hide it. Minimize it. Don't shine a light on it several freakin' times.
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EmpressHoshiSato
Fri, Aug 26, 2022, 7:36pm (UTC -6)
Given the cast available to them returning from the Prequels, the franchise would have been much better served by turning the classic novels "Labyrinth of Evil" and "Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader" into live action movies or a short series.

Those maintain George's canon for his saga and have fabulous stories.

The first would have given us Anakin and Obi Wan with the actors reprising their roles and bringing back Windu etc in a direct prequel spy thriller to ROTS.

The second would have had us see the Empire in its early days and Hayden in the suit against Jedi survivors.

As with most things Disney Star Wars, missed opportunities.
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Chrome
Tue, Sep 6, 2022, 5:38am (UTC -6)
Perhaps I'm too easily pleased, but just having Darth Vader back in his full glory again was worth the price of admission for me. Even with a lower budget than a film, some of the force effects looked great. The planets (Alderaan specifically, but the underwater Sith base) had amazing detail too. Overall, I think the series served its functional purposes while delivering fun connective tissue between the sad ending of "Revenge of the Sith" and the childlike optimism of "A New Hope".

On the down side, I do agree that the ending was basically just maintaining the status quo of the franchise. Maybe Disney is still reeling from making controversially deep and dark philosophical choices in "The Last Jedi". That much is a shame.

On the acting side, Vivien Blair was perfect for Leia. So much better than Jake Lloyd and his LEGO commercial acting. It seems Ewan McGregor is becoming more and more like Alec Guinness. Moses Ingram did a terrific job too although I agree with Jammer that the resolution to her story was underserved.

I'd say there were a couple 3.5 star episodes, a few 3s and some 2s. Not bad.
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Frank A. Booze
Wed, Sep 28, 2022, 12:11am (UTC -6)
3/4 stars from me. I won't dispute a lot of the plot holes Jammer mentioned, although I do agree with most posters in that I thought Leia was well acted. Overall, there were just too many good moments for me. I'll list a few.

1. The opening scene of Order 66 in the Jedi Temple was really well done. If you re-watch the scene, there are very few camera cuts, which is rare in this day and age of film.

2. The scene where Vader enters the village at night is incredible. From Obi-Wan initially getting disoriented by a "tremor in the force" before seeing Vader, to the slow build of seeing Vader's shadow and hearing his breathing to the camera progressively showing more and more of Vader. And then Vader's actions to lure Obi-Wan out...truly horrifying. And I liked the first "duel". The "I am what you made me!" line, Vader completely overpowering Obi-Wan and burning him, all great. Yes, the way in which Obi-Wan is able to escape is not believable, but for me it doesn't take away from what happened beforehand.

3. I really liked the flashback sparring session between Obi-Wan and Anakin (despite Hayden not looking like he was 20 years old again). It was intercut very well with the fifth episode. It did a good job of illustrating how Obi-Wan was able to play on Vader's weaknesses to escape (Vader is still "the learner").

4. Vader completely owning Reva in that duel. I love the end of it where he throws Reva's lightsaber, then force pulls Reva's lightsaber, and then catches the other lightsaber after it boomerangs around. Just goes to show the gap in ability between Vader and the Inquisitors.

5. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen completely sold the scene where Obi-Wan slashed open Vader's helmet to see what was left of Anakin for the first time. That may have been one of the best emotional scenes in any Star Wars media. In fact, I thought McGregor throughout the entire series was excellent.

I will admit I definitely have a soft spot for the prequels (albeit not for Attack of the Clones), so overall I enjoyed a show that was a bit more tied in with the prequels.
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Glenn
Mon, Oct 24, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -6)
Yes, this was boring.

Andor, on the other hand, is really good. There aren't any "founding father" heroes in it, and it's nicely gritty about the emergence of the Rebellion. Would love to see Jammer's take, if he ever has more time.
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Booming
Tue, Oct 25, 2022, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
Andor is indeed a good show. What a surprise that was.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 25, 2022, 12:45pm (UTC -6)
I confess I only made it abour 4-5 episodes into Andor before petering out. It's decently acted and written. It's not an atrocity like Picard. But I just found it kind of drab and unengaging.
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Booming
Tue, Oct 25, 2022, 2:10pm (UTC -6)
It picks up in episode six but I enjoyed the slow pace, the world seemed real. How it feels to life under a fascist regime. What it does to you.

The characters and their motivations made sense, same goes for things that happened. After all the NuTrek and now NuTolkien nonsense it was like a breath of fresh air. :)

But hey it's not for everybody.
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 6:29am (UTC -6)
Ok Booming I am now at Episode 8 and I am being drawn in a bit here. I gotta say, before the last episode, it occurred to me that we never actually saw any evidence that the Empire was a bad thing (other than Alderran being blown up lol). Kind of funny.
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Booming
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 7:42am (UTC -6)
There is the company security disaster and they are just in charge where the Empire doesn't care enough. I get your point, though. In many US shows about the "evil" side, they are comically evil but here we see that for quite a lot of people living under a fascist regime is not much different from any other (as long as things go smoothly).

I also liked the humor in some of this, like the guy who works in this extremely depressing department. Sitting in his little cubicle, like the 10000 others around him. It seems designed to make you feel worthless. :D
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 8:24am (UTC -6)
"There is the company security disaster and they are just in charge where the Empire doesn't care enough. I get your point, though. In many US shows about the "evil" side, they are comically evil but here we see that for quite a lot of people living under a fascist regime is not much different from any other (as long as things go smoothly)."

That's my point. After all those movies and TV shows, most of which take place in the Imperial timeline, there's been scant evidence that the Empire was really any worse than any other regime.

Most of the examples have been over the top comic book stuff like blowing up Alderran or slaughtering rebels, but then again - they're rebels so naturally we expect them to get shot at (not like they aren't shooting imperials).

I mean Luke grew up on Tatooine hating the Empire but really, why? Tatooine under Imperial rule is indistinguishable from what it was under the Republic.

Andor is the first Star Wars media, to my recollection, that actually gives reason for an average non Jedi / non rebel to actually hate the Empire. Funny when you think about it.
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Booming
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 9:30am (UTC -6)
The writing of this show is surprisingly good. It also gives the internal workings of the Empire some nice touches. I also liked how straightforward the action is. There are no dramatic death scenes. Things just happen as they do in battle. The casting is also really good. Skarsgard is a joy and I also liked Faye Marsay. For me there only some smaller negative points apart from that I enjoyed it a lot and far more than I expected.
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 2:36pm (UTC -6)
I gotta wonder as I watch a show like Andor: at what point does something become so different from its source material that it can no longer be considered part of it? Is a story about the banality of life in a totalitarian society really suited to Star Wars? I mean the prison scenes are just apalling. What's next, concentration camps? Storm troopers digging mass graves?

I sort of ask myself: why would someone choose the Star Wars franchise as a medium to tell such a story? And assuming the answer is to reach a big audience that wouldn't otherwise watch, it raises a follow-up question: are we a bunch of stunted eternal adolescents that we need to have a story like this packaged for us in a name brand pew pew pew scifi franchise based on Buck Rogers? Will the next generation end up with Kookie the Klown Presents: The Holocaust?

I think I might have like to have been born, say, 50 years ago, so I could have lived in a more serious time.
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Booming
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
Well, I haven't seen the last episode.

"I think I might have like to have been born, say, 50 years ago, so I could have lived in a more serious time. "
I thought you were 50?! :)
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 7:06pm (UTC -6)
"I thought you were 50?! :)"

Off by a decade. By some scales I would even be considered a millenial.

"Well, I haven't seen the last episode."

I won't spoil it for you then. I assumed you had watched it.

Jammer should be reviewing this series as it really is singular as far as Star Wars goes.

I mean I suppose the closest comparison would be Rogue One (especially since the titular character was introduced in that film) but I gotta say, Andor is much more relentlessly bleak.

As I said, this series is unique in the Star Wars franchise in actually showing the oppression of the Empire. And I'll give it this: it does a damn fine job of it too. The first half of episode 8 is a pretty remarkable piece of storytelling and given the previous three episodes, kind of hilarious at the same time. This show seems dedicated to showing the empire in all its banality as well as casual brutality. You're watching this and you're like ohhhh now I know what the rebels were so upset about.
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Booming
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
@Jason
"Is a story about the banality of life in a totalitarian society really suited to Star Wars? I mean the prison scenes are just apalling. What's next, concentration camps? Storm troopers digging mass graves?"
Not that I think that it will make a significant difference to the downfall of democracy in the West but if you have a story to tell about a fascist regime, then Star Wars is a good conduit. Why? Because people will actually watch it.

So, as you might have guessed, I have seen it (I always watch two or three episodes in a row so that it is like a little movie). I love this show. How does this exist. This is the new Expanse.

Sorry, I have drunk fairly !expensive! wine and am pretty emotional (not because of the show) so I cannot write my opinion down.

One thing though. This show is so far above anything Star Wars related, it is almost incredible. There are many aspects to this show which other shows would dumb down. Maybe consumerism has finally gotten so got that even people like me get their cultural comfort blanket.

Thanks Mickey Mouse! I still hate you, though.
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Jason R.
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
"Sorry, I have drunk fairly !expensive! wine and am pretty emotional (not because of the show) so I cannot write my opinion down."

Haha I'll have a full bottle of Bordeau while I cook dinner and watch Andor.

And yes it is a good show so far.
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Peter G.
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 6:09pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, I'm a little confused. Is Andor the great show, or Obi-Wan?
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Jason R.
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
"Not that I think that it will make a significant difference to the downfall of democracy in the West but if you have a story to tell about a fascist regime, then Star Wars is a good conduit. Why? Because people will actually watch it."

I guess but I still feel like a pathetic man-child watching this stuff. My dad would never have understood and his dad would probably have thought even less of it if that is even possible. It's like each generation has gotten less and less adult and more childish. It's been a non stop decline and descent.

My son will probably get his serious drama through Barney the Dinosaur, rebooted.

I need more wine.
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Jason R.
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 6:12pm (UTC -6)
"Sorry, I'm a little confused. Is Andor the great show, or Obi-Wan?"

Andor. And I am not sure I am ready to call it great. But it is unique in the Star Wars canon.
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Tom
Sat, Nov 5, 2022, 7:43pm (UTC -6)
You're not wrong Jason. I'm on episode 5 of Andor and so far it's been 99% style and 1% substance. But the style is admittedly excellent and maybe that's all audiences now look for?
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Jason R.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 6:13am (UTC -6)
@Tom it is a bit of a slow burn. I'd say Episode 8 was the turning point where I kind of said Aha, that's what they are going for. I wouldn't say it is great, but as I mentioned many times, it is unique in Star Wars canon.
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Booming
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 6:33am (UTC -6)
@Jason
I hope some of that bottle is for the cook and not all for cooking. :)

"It's like each generation has gotten less and less adult and more childish. It's been a non stop decline and descent."
Sure, because Clint Eastwood movies are all so serious or 80s movies in general. Have you seen the one where he basically alone destroys the communist mega fortress Grenada.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myzOguAb_Xw

Or before that 1950s John Wayne movies. They are like ego porn for men and lots of history whitewashing. Oh and all those poor dead horses...

And let's rather not talk about movies from the 1920s. That can get awkward fast. :D

Don't worry most movies from most periods are silly. For example Western movies in the 50s were mostly eyerolling manbaby porn but some were very good. Those stand the test of time.

Will Andor stand the test of time? Who knows.

What I find so interesting about Andor is how much this show focuses on the inner workings of the fascist state and the life of the downtrodden. How they show that there are many people who value order above everything and that being a rebel is nasty soul-crushing business. Nothing about it is portrayed as heroic.
It also features many nuances that most shows don't have and even the emotional scenes serve a bigger purpose. Spoiler for the last episode (9). Anybody knew that the old guy would die but when he died it wasn't in there just to have a sad scene, they also got to see the med tech who, if you think about it, would probably the only person who moves around the prison all the time and therefor knows more. I'm really puzzled why this show was made this way. Compared to the other "good" Star Wars show, the Mandalorian, it is so much better. Every time they did actual world building of the Mandalorian himself, I was giggling because it was so silly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtU7VhPOGLc

@Peter
So far it is a very strong show. It takes it's time and avoids cliches almost. It also doesn't spoonfeed you everything. As a political scientist I'm fairly impressed. Especially the inner workings of rebellions and the fascist state are even more sophisticated than what they portrayed about the functioning of states in the Expanse.

@Tom
What would substance for you be in a show like Andor and why do you think it barely has any?
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Jason R.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 8:08am (UTC -6)
"@Jason
I hope some of that bottle is for the cook and not all for cooking. :)"

Who said I use wine in my cooking?
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Jason R.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 8:12am (UTC -6)
@Booming I realize silly movies have always existed. But I don't agree at all with the proposition that things today are as they always were. My wife was just commenting that if you don't love super heroes, there's almost never much to watch at the cinema now. That is one of 1,000 examples I could give. We are a deeply unserious childish people.
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Peter G.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 8:52am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

I'm not sure I would agree about the degradation of seriousness in media right now. In particular, TV had been going through a phase in the 70's and 80's where it was mostly seen as camp, serious actors preferred film, and overall the writing didn't take itself too seriously. There are of course exceptions, but I think even the more serious shows were tongue in cheek to an extent: they knew they were the lesser medium. That changed in the 90's, with shows like DS9 and eventually the Sopranos, where TV transformed into a much more serious forum, both for writers as well as actors. In the 2000's it became common for movie stars to star in TV series, even to want to do so over doing films. The long-form film came to eventually exist. But while all this was happening Hollywood had long since run out of original ideas, was recycling old film successes, was hiring writers on a risk-averse basis, trying only to avoid failure rather than to create success. The domination of Marvel films at the expense of apparently everything else seems to me a symptom of the fact that the desperation to find the 'secret formula' to making money in film seems to have been solved by just churning out more and more of what has been selling best lately. The fact that major producers were hoping to find a secret formula is depressing enough: it means they would prefer reliable and repetitive cash flows rather than creating great works. It means they're in film as venture capitalists rather than as people who care about movies. And we know by now what that does to the Hollywood ecosystem.

I personally don't think the domination of Marvel (and therefore Disney) marks a milestone in the degradation of seriousness in media. If anything TV (and now streaming 'tv') has become more and more self-serious over time, which is ok as far as I can tell. That Disney is the current champion influences what gets put out there, but it has its own peculiar corporate agenda which I'm not sure is reflective of the American public in general. Since this is an Obi-Wan thread, I'd have to say that it seemed to me this series was an example of just trying to fleece the sheep all the way down to the skin, rather than a dumbing down of storytelling per se. That sub-par writers often get involved in these projects seems to me to reflect the priorities of the studio ($$) rather than a downturn in appreciation for adult content. It's just that foolish writing ends up looking like it's pandering to foolish viewers, when in fact really it's just pandering to the execs.
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Top Hat
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 10:30am (UTC -6)
"My wife was just commenting that if you don't love super heroes, there's almost never much to watch at the cinema now."

I'll look at the listings of the largest nearby multiplex. Currently there is one superhero movie showing, Black Adam, alongside 13 other movies. Three are horror films (probably an inflated number because Halloween just passed), plus a few animated kids' films, and a slate of comedies and dramas. In theory there is plenty to watch BUT (and it's a big but) Black Adam shows 16 times a day on four different screens, and The Banshees of Inisherin and Ticket to Paradise are just showing four times each in a single theatre. So superhero movies do consume an outsized portion of the market, but scarcely to the exclusion of everything else.
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Top Hat
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 10:59am (UTC -6)
I hasten to add that the options are probably smaller and thus still more dominated by blockbusters (superhero or otherwise) in smaller markets, but that is not a new thing.
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Jason R.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 11:49am (UTC -6)
I take your points Peter but I feel as though even in the past 40 years things that once were thought childish are pursued by adults - pretty much all of geek culture from comics to action figures being an example. As someone who partook in this as an adult (in some cases) I always defended it on the basis that it's objectively no more childlike than, say, obsessing over football or baseball, which was always the adult fantasy that it was okay for grown men to have.

But somehow the superhero craze seems qualitatively different to me. It's not just that Marvel / Disney discovered a "formula" to make money; it is the fact that the formula actually works. Would such a formula have succeeded in the 70s? I have my doubts.
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Peter G.
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

I really think the issue is quality. In principle I like imaginative material, especially sci-fi but that can include a slim amount of high quality fantasy. However until Reeves' Superman there was no serious superhero filmmaking. Why should the public take seriously a genre that only plays as camp? And regarding Marvel and DC comics, I genuinely do like some of the worldbuilding there and have had an ok time watching the Justice League cartoons for example, but I have never been able to bring myself to like the comics. I think it's the writing, and to be fair I haven't tried to like them again recently. Maybe I could give JMS's (of B5) comic writing a chance. I have *greatly* enjoyed a select few superhero graphic novels, ones that were overtly adult in tone and content, and excellent on top of it. Even when I was a kid, however, I couldn't take X-Men or Superman comics seriously, and I doubt most of the population could have either even if they didn't have built-in anti-geek prejudices. I just don't think the stuff was very good. But bring Robert Downey Junior into the picture and now we're talking about a whole different animal. It's not the dumbing down of the population, more like the growing up of superhero stories to be more than BAM and BIFF. Iron Man 3 featured a very serious treatment of Tony Stark suffering from trauma and having panic attacks. Some of it was humorous but it was never taken lightly. Did Iron Man comics from the 70's really treat him like a real person with serious problems? Tbh I didn't even try to read Iron Man, but I'd be surprised to pick one up and have strong feelings evoked from it. Credit where it's due to RDJ and Jon Favreau for jumpstarting the current regime, and prior to that to Richard Donner and Tim Burton. It was a long process, but IMO involved increasingly improving the superhero concept.
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Booming
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
"Would such a formula have succeeded in the 70s? I have my doubts. "
Why? You were born in the 80s. Maybe there were many silly movies back then.

And let's not forget how silly the 90s movies were. Many movies were like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qolk_rDA9xU

Or when Rocky gave a speech to Gorbatchev about world peace. Were they huffing paint while filming that?! hahaha :D

The superhero movies are successful because they are for the most part solid comedies that play with the format. They are kind of the male version of the romcom. It probably also had something to do with US wars. I also heard the hypothesis that super hero movies tickle the deep seated need for a strongman in times of turmoil. Solving problems by punching/shooting things. Or as peacemaker so poetically put it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYHTrxWZmwk
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Booming
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
One more thing I want to mention. Super hero movie dominate for how long now? 10 years. Far shorter than Western. Still, maybe that time is coming to an end. Sure there is Corona but the last three marvel movies released in 2022 made all less than a billion and the current DCU Black Adam movie will maybe break even, the movie before that was suicide squad and that one did not make it's money back, at least directly.
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Top Hat
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Westerns are an interesting example because while they were extremely numerous, they were generally a low-budget, disposable product, and it was rare for any individual Western to be enormously successful. It was a rarity for them to be among the ten highest earning films of their years. In this respect they are the inverse of superhero movies, which is numerically small but draw an enormous proportion of the box office nonetheless (as was once the case with lavish musicals or Biblical epics).

On the other hand, one thing Westerns and superhero films do have in common is that, while they're occasionally well reviewed, they're rarely awards bait. With the anomalous early exception of Cimarron, Westerns never won major Oscars until revisionist Westerns like Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven.

Of course, there's the fact that Star Wars was received as a space Western, and is arguably itself the most successful Western ever made.

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