Sunday, May 22, 2005

Obi-Wan Kenobi is Redeemed  

Ok. Sith made 50 million in its first day, and by now almost 1 in 10 Americans have seen it, so we can proceed without spoiling anything for anyone:

At last, Obi-Wan Kenobi gets to kick ass.

For almost the entire Star Wars saga, Obi-Wan gets pantsed by everyone he encounters. Sure, he lops off arms in bar-room brawls, bats blaster ricochets into legions of droids, and even kills Darth Maul, but outside that, put him toe-to-toe with a Jedi or trained bounty hunter and he falls to pieces. In the Phantom Menace, he's basically a young punk who can't even keep his lightsaber charged - Qui-Gon carries him through the whole movie until whacked by Maul, which apparently energizes the young Kenobi enough for him to pull his weight. But by Attack of the Clones Obi-Wan had devolved into a pompous, dismissive arrogant twat that Anakin carried through the whole movie.

Now, don't get me wrong - I thought it was stone cold of him to leap through that window onto a fleeing assassin droid to try to track it back to its master, and thought he held his own pretty good against Jango Fett while being fired on by an entire starship. But one of my good buddies put it best: in the end, he loses just about every fight. The bounty hunter picks him off at a quarter mile, after which he's rescued by Anakin. Then baby-faced Boba Fett gives him the Slave II smackdown. Finally he gets schooled by Count Dracula - excuse me, Dooko - only to get saved by, yes, you guessed it, Anakin - who in Attack of the Clones can't pull his weight either, requiring a Muppet-ex-machina save by Master Kermit - excuse me, Yoda - and his newly energized CGI powers.

Now, Sith starts off the same way. While he does well against legions of the can't-shoot-straight stork droids, Obi-Wan still can't fly, gets re-schooled by Dooku and then literally carried out by Anakin. But almost immediately he starts showing signs of maturity. He credits Anakin for his hard work and derring-do, rather than smacking him down, tries to help him cope with the Jedi council's duplicitous ways, and ultimately flat-out tells Anakin how much he admires him before hurling himself into the forefront of the war.

Where. He. Kicks. Ass.

Unlike the reckless Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan is shown to think carefully about his moves, even the boldest of them: leaping straight down into an enemy army to call out Grievous. For the entire rest of the movie, Obi-Wan out-fights, out-thinks and out-plans all of his foes, smacking down Grevious' troops, slicing up Grevious himself, and even outwitting his own clone troopers when they turn on him. In the final climactic battle with the newly minted Darth Vader, Obi-Wan excellently plays above his weight, staying toe-to-toe with someone More Powerful Than Any Jedi while at the same time constantly manipulating the battlefield to his advantage. Like Darth Maul luring Qui-Gon before him, it's Obi-Wan that lures Anakin out onto catwalks and platforms where his sheer power can no longer help him; it's Obi-Wan that keeps an eye out for lava around them, and it's Obi-Wan who maneuvers himself out of danger, always with an eye for Anakin's sword as he's doing so. In contrast, Anakin whacks away at Obi-Wan like he's trying to cut down a tree, and is constantly suprised when he finds himself dodging lava or trying to escape from a sinking platform while Obi-Wan is waving at him from the high ground.

At first I was disappointed that Obi-Wan had to use the terrain to defeat Anakin - as the same friend said earlier, the cool thing about the fight between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul is that Maul didn't throw sand in his eyes or make him slip on a banana peel: Qui-Gon just got beat by a superior opponent. But upon reflection, that's the point. Obi-Wan saw how Qui-Gon went down, and knew how he took Darth Maul out with Maul standing on the same high ground he now held over Anakin. He had experience. He distilled it into wisdom. And when Anakin came a-chopping, Obi-Wan held him, thought him off, and struck him down.

Anakin never really had a chance. When he intoned, "This is the end for you, my master," and leapt over Obi-Wan onto the platform, Obi-Wan could easily have nailed him in the back. Then when he landed, he stumbles, and Obi-Wan actually waited for him to get his footing and to bring the battle back to him, rather than press the advantage.

In reality, Obi-Wan was stringing him along - because he couldn't bear to kill hisfriend. But in the end, he did what needed to be done.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my hero.
And you kick ass.

-the Centaur



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?