The Acolyte review – Star Wars gets a thrilling new hero

The Acolyte

To create an interesting plotline in a popular fantasy series, it may be beneficial to distance yourself from the original story and start with a fresh perspective. House of the Dragon, a new addition to the Game of Thrones world, goes back a couple of hundred years before the original story. The Rings of Power, a series on Middle-earth, takes place thousands of years before the iconic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Star Wars, known for its prequel focus since The Phantom Menace in 1999, has decided to go even further back in time than ever before. It's an exciting new step for the beloved space opera.

The start of The Acolyte confirms that it happens in a galaxy that is very far away and took place an entire century before the evil Empire rose to power. During this time, the Galaxy Republic was at peace thanks to a religious group that wore robes like monks but fought with laser swords and had supernatural abilities because of their control over the Force. This was a time of harmony and the Jedi were not to be messed with. However, the creator of The Acolyte, Leslye Headland, who previously worked on Russian Doll, asks a tantalizing question - what if someone dared to challenge them?

The blog section kicks off with an exciting scene - a duel. Our protagonist, a determined warrior played by Amandla Stenberg, enters a bar located on a rugged planet similar to those seen in recent hits like The Mandalorian and Andor. Donning a Mortal Kombat face mask and armed with kunai throwing knives, she resembles a space ninja in every sense of the word. However, instead of attempting to catch her Jedi opponent off guard, she boldly declares her intentions to attack and invites him to do the same. As their battle intensifies, we discover that the Acolyte possesses Force abilities and ultimately emerges victorious.

The Jedi leaders were greatly alarmed by the emergence of a mysterious "Force user" who could not be identified. They seized Osha, a mechanic who lives on a distant spacecraft, who resembles the said suspect in looks. Osha is a former member of the Jedi Order who quit. However, his old master, Sol, played by Lee Jung-jae, senses that something isn't right. Sol is far more dignified in comparison to his Squid Game character, who fidgeted frequently. Sol realizes that the situation doesn't make sense as he was aware that his past disciple, now known as Osha, had a twin sister, Mae, who was rumoured to have died on the same day that he joined the Jedi Order.

Soon after, Osha and her talking mobile repair robot Pip were given the green light to join Sol's group aimed at stopping the ninja. This individual had a list of Jedi she wanted to eliminate, almost like the plot in Kill Bill. However, this task was kept secret by the top leaders, indicating that the Jedi's dominance might not be as strong as believed.

If you think of this eight-part series as a Star Wars mystery - who is behind this murder plot reminiscent of Agatha Christie? - it doesn't hold back on important information. After the first two episodes, Osha and Mae, who assumed they lost a sister 16 years ago, find out about each other and are struggling to accept it. A flashback episode will explore their unusual upbringing on a faraway paradise planet that sheds new light on the Jedi, the Force, and who has access to it, making it an intriguing watch.

Stenberg delivers an impressive performance portraying two different characters. As Mae, she has a rocky but charming relationship with her underworld partner Qimir (portrayed by Manny Jacinto from The Good Place). As Osha, she interacts cautiously with Jedi trainee Jecki (played by Dafne Keen from His Dark Materials), who appears to be from Planet Synthpop due to her ghostly complexion, platinum mullet, and orange eye streaks. Osha also experiences a pleasant tension with her former Jedi master (who disapproves of her bicep tattoo).

The Acolyte relies heavily on traditional Star Wars themes, possibly due to its uncharted backdrop. The use of classic techniques such as smeared transitions between scenes and repeating phrases like “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” are prevalent throughout. Despite having exciting fight scenes, the overall story can feel sluggish at times. Additionally, the fact that Jedi characters are traditionally portrayed as socially awkward and avoiding emotional connections does not aid in creating a dynamic narrative.

The newest Star Wars spin-off, Ahsoka, seemed like a continuation of a bigger story that began in animated shows such as The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. On the other hand, The Acolyte has the advantage of being a brand new story for both the creators and viewers, without any prior knowledge necessary. While the beginning may seem somewhat familiar, the subversive Headland has something tricksy planned, which is an exciting concept that makes The Acolyte worth sticking around for.

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