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'Obi-Wan Kenobi' reviews hail return of Ewan McGregor, compare show to 'John Wick'

The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are now streaming on Disney+.

By Josh Weiss

Hello there! After 17 years, Ewan McGregor returned to that galaxy far, far away as Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in his very own Disney+ TV show. With the first two episodes of the latest small screen Star Wars project now streaming (finally!!), critics aren't holding back with their thoughts on the post-Revenge of the Sith adventure, which takes place a decade after the execution of Order 66 and the corruption of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen).

On the whole, the reviews are extremely positive, hailing the return of McGregor who comfortably slides back into and brings new emotional depth to the role of Kenobi — now living under the pseudonym of "Ben" during his lonely exile on Tatooine in the Outer Rim. Plagued by nightmares of his greatest failure, Obi-Wan keeps his head down and tries to do right by Anakin's son, Luke (played as a 10-year-old by Grant Feely), only to face pushback from Owen Lars (fellow prequel alum, Joel Edgerton). Ben has pretty much disavowed the Jedi way, but is forced into action when an old friend strolls back into his life, begging for help.

The ex-Jedi hesitantly agrees, leaving Tatooine for a dangerous rescue mission that has critics comparing the show to the John Wick film franchise headlined by Keanu Reeves. Kenobi's decision to risk exposing himself to the Empire puts him in the direct sights of the Inquisitors, former Jedi Knights who now hunt their own kind on behalf of Vader and Palpatine. Moses Ingram plays the fiercest Inquisitor of them all — Reva — whose burning desire to capture Obi-Wan and bring him to Vader draws harsh criticism from her colleagues: Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) and the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend).

Ok, we won't go any further than that in case you haven't watched the two-part premiere. If you want to get into specifics, click here for our official recap.

Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Simone Kessell, and Benny Safdie round out the cast. The Mandalorian vet Deborah Chow directed all six episodes and serves as an executive producer alongside McGregor, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm development executive Michelle Rejwan, and series writer Joby Harold. As of this writing, the show holds an 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

***WARNING! The following contains certain plot spoilers for the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi! If you haven't watched them yet, we suggest retreating into the solitude of a desert cave and logging into your Disney+ account before all is ruined!****

"Unlike many other Star Wars series ... 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." -Caroline Framke, Variety

"Tonally, Obi-Wan Kenobi falls closest to the ground-level grit of Rogue One. Here as in there, hope and despair wrestle for air inside a hero who struggles to see himself as such. The tension infuses the series with more drive than the episodic ambling of The Mandalorian and more weight than the breathless plot-spinning of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. With six episodes of space to sprawl out in and the patience to let emotional beats play out organically, the series has the potential to serve up one of the more complex character studies ever seen in the franchise." -Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter

"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." -Matt Purslow, IGN

"A promising start, this shows a solid understanding of its hero and hints at an exciting new adventure in those missing decades of his life. It’s a very welcome return to form after the misfiring [Book of] Boba Fett." -Helen O'Hara, Empire

"Obi-Wan Kenobi’s premiere is a stunning opening to a chapter that few would have been interested in all those years ago when Ewan McGregor punctuated the big screen with ‘Hello Theres’ and declarations of the higher ground. This is a mature, beautifully realized slice of Star Wars that should be the blueprint for all stories of this ilk — such as 2023’s Ahsoka — to come in a galaxy far, far away. With Deborah Chow and Ewan McGregor, the series is in more than safe hands and, with Leia in tow, there’s an added wrinkle to keep everyone hooked by the time John Williams’ soaring score kicks in as the credits roll." -Bradley Russell, GamesRadar

"Kenobi doesn't give away its grand plan early, though perhaps it might take an overall more wandering bent a la The Mando. This is a franchise that has a habit of returning to the same time period over and over again, and the new series smartly embraces a central character-driven narrative. If Star Wars fans are going to see a new angle to things they know, it should be with a beloved familiar face." -Brian Truitt, USA Today

"It's just enjoyable seeing McGregor return to the role, a character originated by Alec Guinness but one that he has made his own. There’s much about Lucas’s maligned prequels that’s been subject to revisionist re-appraisals over the past decade; McGregor’s performance is one of the most widely acknowledged highlights. Here, he adds new dimensions to the character, without losing the old — his dry wit, his unflappable dignity. The Jedi has returned." -Louis Chilton, The Independent

"Once Obi-Wan Kenobi starts to build up a bit of momentum, a miraculous thing happens. The series actually starts to justify its own existence. Two episodes of six were released today, so we’re already a third of the way through the entire series, and so far the series seems to be a kind of intergalactic John Wick. Kenobi is on the lam, hunted by a combination of hired mercenaries and Vader’s forces, while trying to protect a young Princess Leia in the process. And when the show leans most heavily into this premise, it works marvelously." -Stuart Heritage, The Guardian

"For all intents and purposes, the series begins feeling like a Star Wars version of John Wick, which makes sense since Joby Harold worked on John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum before coming into a galaxy far, far away. Even if the action isn't on par with the hit Keanu Reeves sequel, it's hard to not be interested in a show like this." -Ethan Anderton, /FILM

"The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi had everything a Star Wars fan can want. Big reveals and surprises, exciting action, lots of humor, questions answered, and even more asked. But really, the star of both episodes isn’t Ewan McGregor, as fantastic as he is here. It’s young Vivien Lyra Blair as 10-year-old Princess Leia. Her wit and charm feel like a direct line to Carrie Fisher, and that Lucasfilm was able to keep her reveal almost Baby Yoda in its secrecy made it that much better." -Germain Lussier, Gizmodo

"Ewan McGregor’s return as Kenobi is everything you want it to be. Right away, the series immediately tugs on every single bit of nostalgia we all have for this actor in this role, using it not to elicit cheers but rather sorrow. Your heart breaks for Obi-Wan, with McGregor playing the former Jedi master with a deflated resolve to hide. Of course there’s no show if Obi-Wan continues to do nothing, but when he inevitably does something, it feels earned." -Brett White, Decider

"It’s exciting not only to revisit McGregor’s Obi-Wan, especially at such a tortured time in his life but also for Christensen to get a second chance in the public eye. Similarly, exploring Leia’s connection to Obi-Wan is exciting, and you can begin to see why she would name her only child after old Ben Kenobi. With four more episodes to go, it already feels like that’s not enough time. With characters we’ve yet to see still waiting in the wings, Obi-Wan Kenobi proves that you can still revisit the Skywalker saga but that story must offer a new perspective from the one before, and the series has accomplished that." -Therese Lacson, Comics Beat

"McGregor — 17 years removed from Revenge of the Sith — proves an enormous asset, perfectly capturing the legendary Jedi at this stage, still wounded by having lost Anakin Skywalker to the dark side and wearily left in a holding pattern that offers room for some hope but, under current circumstances, not a whole lot ...  While there are still four installments to come, based on the liftoff, the Force is still very much with Obi-Wan Kenobi, which may possess a bit less spring in its step but has lost none of its allure to those who have long followed him." -Brian Lowry, CNN

"The first two episodes of the Ewan McGregor starring miniseries are almost 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." -Dominic Patten, Deadline

The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are now streaming on Disney+.

Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, EurekaHeroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.