Depending on your view of Star Wars and even further the “Disney Era”, The Book of Boba Fett is either something that got you excited for to dive deeper into the famed bounty hunter’s life and backstory, or it crashed and burned not fulfilling its potential. Out of the five films and now three series, Disney is 4-8 (personally my favorite is Rogue One, with The Mandalorian as a close second followed by The Bad Batch). What has worked exceptionally well for the galaxy far far away recently is long form storytelling. While the sequel trilogy with no distinguishable plan split the fandom jaggedly down the middle creating a toxicity that does more harm than good, The Mandalorian eased those tensions bringing those who went to the dark side back to the light.
At the end of season 2 of The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau (creators) teased a spin off limited series following the bounty hunter and his new ally. The atmosphere from that post-credit sting screamed of a Godfather/ Sopranos like gangster series but centered around a character that is a clear fan favorite with no back story to him other than what we saw in the prequel trilogy. And then Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) shows up and wreaks havoc in a way that has never been seen before in a Star Wars project. Favreau and Filoni set themselves up for back-to-back wins, but Boba Fett is more of the latter than the former – coming up way too short on the potential and frankly a bit disappointing.
While the show is a letdown (something Star Wars fans have come to expect in recent memory) Favreau and Filoni do a ton of good within their self-contained sandbox. Speaking of a sandbox, everyone’s favorite desert planet Tatooine serves as the setting further containing the universe that should be expanding outward.
I’ve had enough of stories that make this vast and underexplored universe feel small.
After claiming Jabba’s territory with the assistance of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Boba must quicky deal with the Pyke Syndicate running Spice throughout the planet.
Boba as a character has a ton of untapped potential to explore – not much is known of him beyond watching his father get be-headed in the prequels to getting knocked into the sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi. What happens in-between all that time? The limited series depicts Boba’s life post Jedi while he makes his escape from the sarlacc pit.
At only 7 episodes, The Book of Boba Fett spends a lot of its valuable time in a series of flashbacks that in the long run would be better as a cliff notes chapter rather a long drawn out one. But those flashbacks of Boba losing his famous armor to the greedy Jawas, being enslaved by Tusken Raiders, and finding Fennec do one crucial thing for Boba and the series – it changes his character. It might have made him weaker in the short term, but it makes him a better successor to Jabba and Bib Fortuna when the book is closed, and the next chapter begins.
Now that all 7 chapters have been released, it’s hard to believe the same creative team that created The Mandalorian also created Boba Fett. Bryce Dallas Howard, and Dave Filoni return to the director’s chair delivering the two best episodes that just so happen to not feature Boba Fett. While Robert Rodriguez directs 3 episodes (and the worst ones of the limited series). The episodes in question bring back Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) back into the fold post giving Grogu to Luke Skywalker (voiced by Mark Hamill, played by Graham Hamilton) and in search of his clan that was nearly destroyed.
How ironic is it that the best two episodes in a show about Boba Fett don’t have Boba Fett in them? It further proves how much of a strong hold the relationship between Mando and Grogu have on the fan base. Besides laying it on thick with fan service – R2, Luke and Asoka (Rosario Dawson) (among others) showing their faces, Favreau and Filoni set the stage for Asoka’s series and The Mandalorian season 3. Boba became the side character, the one that gets a few lines and makes an appearance every few chapters or so.
But while Boba was on screen, he didn’t feel like the Boba we were reintroduced to in Mandalorian season 2. Morrison’s performance is exceptional as the successor to Jabba’s reign, it’s the writing that makes Boba feel stale and uninspired. The action in some episodes (Rodriguez’s) is clunky and ridged, the pace feels like Boba walking through the desert, never ending, what drives Boba Fett is never explained – he lacks little motivation to his actions.
Favreau and Filoni didn’t once write Boba as a character I wanted to care about. I was fine not knowing anything more about him than what previously established. Whenever the character is on screen, either patrolling the sandy streets of Mos Espa, hiring the Star Wars version of the Power Rangers as his bodyguards who have zero experience and aim, or healing in his Bacta tank, the show struggles to find its footing and gain momentum. But once Din shows up bounty hunting with the DarkSaber, the mood shifts. I suddenly care again and become engrossed in the lore of the Mandalorian’s. Maybe it was because the episode as a whole was well crafted with Bryce Dallas Howard returning making the show feel like it was a part of the universe.
Fundamentally, Boba Fett isn’t on the same level as Mandalorian. There is no attachment to this series the way Favreau and Filoni formed one to Mando. I can argue the strongest aspect of this limited series is Ludwig Görannsson’s theme music – he is truly a worthy successor to John Williams.
The Book of Boba Fett is a missed opportunity. So much of what made Boba an enigma in the original trilogy is lost in his own series. Morrison and Wen pick up right where they left off, but the show suffers from the weight of its own expectation. Tone shifts episode to episode – one minute Boba Fett channels the prequels with its campy, comedic, and vibrant colors and the next its dark and gloomy taking itself a little too seriously to relying almost exclusively on fan service. I never thought it would be possible but there are characters with worse aim than the Stormtroopers. Some fan favorites from Clone Wars are underutilized while much of the characters thought processes don’t make any sense. It’s a mess with redeeming qualities to it. I’d still prefer The Book of Boba Fett over The Rise of Skywalker any day of the week.
Created By: Jon Favreau
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dave Filoni, Steph Green & Kevin Tancharoen
Music By: Ludwig Görannsson & Joseph Shirley
Cinematography: Dean Cundey, David Klein & Paul Hughen
Starring: Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen & Pedro Pascal
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Release Date: December 29, 2021
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
My Score: 3 out of 5
Based On: Star Wars by George Lucas