For a long time the Star Wars franchise consisted, primarily, of three neat and compact films. From this span a cascade of books, comics, animations, and the bubbling, indistinct excitement of young fans’ head-canon.
A plethora of this focused on Boba Fett, the mostly silent but cool as heck looking bounty hunter who gets barely 20 minutes of screen time in the original films. What was his deal? Where did he come from? What drove him? Gee, jetpacks are cool, aren’t they?
Later films filled in some detail (he’s a clone and orphaned after his bounty hunter ‘father’ was killed by Jedi) and then Disney (via Jon Favreau) went ahead and made a series to explore the culture and background of cool as heck armour wearing bounty hunters.
Trouble is, that series was called The Mandalorian. The Book of Boba Fett joins the fray after seemingly being made redundant straight out of the sand.
The Book of Boba Fett has a handful of positives beyond the surface joy that comes from flamethrower knees. Temuera Morrison’s performance as Fett is a measured one, where flashes of anger and frustration slide across the face of a man who has decided to take charge for once. Morrison benefits from Fett removing his helmet at any given opportunity, unlike Din Djarin / Mando’s strict creed.
With Jabba the Hut dead after the events of Return of the Jedi, Fett acquires his Tatooine protection racket empire but struggles to retain control in the lack of using force as a first resort. Often this begs the question: why? The show struggles with a central motivation for going through its pre-planned cool set pieces.
In covering what happened to Boba Fett after his apparent consumption by a massive toothy sand gob (sorry, I mean Sarlacc), we get to spend a decent whack of time with the Sand People, as he is held captive by, and slowly wins over, a tribe of ‘Tuskens’.
This part of the story, told by excessively long flashbacks, is where Morrison gets to shine (it helps that his is the only face we get to see). Yet it is chopped into the present ‘retain power’ plot in such large chunks that coming back to ‘now’ always feels like a letdown.
This structural mess is exacerbated when The Book of Boba Fett abandons the character entirely for episodes 5 and 6. We instead get two bonus episodes of The Mandalorian.
Sure, these episodes are good fun (soulless CGI Luke Skywalker notwithstanding), but for a 7 episode series to utterly push to one side its supposed central plot for 2 of those episodes just shows how little interest there is in Fett’s actions once his backstory is filled in.
Is The Book of Boba Fett Worth Watching?
When the series allows itself to relax into space adventure of the week, it is a blast; an excellent high speed train heist echoes the sort of wonderful scrapes that The Mandalorian would dash off.
Also, anyone who wondered what a full-on Rancor rage would look like is going to have a superb time. I would also be doing a disservice to the commanding presence of Ming-Na Wen to not give her a well-earned shout out here.
Wen, as Fett’s loyal muscle Fennec Shand, at least has better motivations. Her loyalty to Fett is earned within an excellent flashback sequence. Plus ‘smart, strong, and badass’ is as good a characterisation as any.
The Book of Boba Fett tries to set itself apart from The Mandalorian by sadly removing most of what made the latter fun. It locks itself to one dull sandy location and fails to give any of the apparently warring factions anything worth giving a damn about.
The Star Wars penchant for putting everyone and sundry in a mask has the direct effect of making the antagonist group ‘The Syndicate’ about as interesting to watch as a Sarlaac’s digestion cycle.
Come for the backstory and the set pieces, and leave wishing Din Djarin and ‘Baby Yoda’ well. Boba himself can be left alone, looking aimlessly into the oncoming sandstorm.
Words by Mike Record