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First Impressions: “The Book of Boba Fett” Struggles to Take Off [Review]

It goes without saying that few things in the Star Wars world had as much anticipation as “The Book of Boba Fett.” After the long cherished character made a welcomed experience in “The Mandalorian,” and ended the season with an announcement of his own show, fans eagerly awaited his return to the screen. With many of the same, beloved filmmakers who worked on the previous shows, there seemed to be very little that could go wrong. Jon Favreau writing? Check. Dave Filoni producing? Check. Robert Rodriguez directing? Check, check, and check. Which is why so unfortunate that “The Book of Boba Fett” is just ok, and struggles to find its footing with a tonally imbalanced pilot episode.

I think we should clarify a few things before we dig into why this show didn’t wow me. The first blasphemous statement I’ll make is that I don’t find Boba Fett all that interesting of a character. He’s terrible at his job in the films. Aside from badass armor, he doesn’t really DO a whole lot. His retconning in the prequels gets even worse, and the constant need to make him a primary character in the galaxy far, far away has always felt forced.

Now I know what you’re gonna say: “But in the comics and novels and fan fiction, he’s a badass!” And that’s my second but similar critique of Fett. If a character requires extensive, heavily invested research outside of the primary canon just to make him valuable, I’m sorry but that just makes the character less likable. A dope costume doesn’t make a dope character. And the idea that fans have to create that character on their own to make him meaningful doesn’t lend itself to someone who can shoulder a series.

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I don’t say all of that to disparage “The Book of Boba Fett,” because with so many notable creators powering the series, you can still turn a dud into a diamond. I say that so that we can understand why my expectations may differ from the general discourse of championing everyone’s favorite bounty hunter. And also why I may be a bit more critical of the show’s first episode. I don’t hold the character in high esteem, so the issues within the episode are more glaring as I’m not blinded by the wrist-canon and flame thrower glow. That’s a long way to say that “The Book of Boba Fett” is a tonally imbalanced and rather uninteresting first look at the new series, opting to focus on the less captivating parts of the Boba Fett story while simultaneously keeping the new story stagnant. Even for a pilot episode, it manages to not feel conclusive within the episode itself. It also doesn’t really move the story along in any meaningful way, leaving viewers in the exact same spot they were before the episode began.

The Book of Boba Fett” tells two stories; flashbacks of Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) surviving the Sarlacc Pit (something that once again is from novels and fan fiction, and only canonized after the Disney acquisition), being captured by Tusken Raiders shortly after, and his new venture as a daimyo of Tatooine. Paired with his trusty side kick Fennec (Ming-Na Wen), Fett learns to navigate his new world as a king of the underground. Naturally, not everyone has decided to welcome the new gangster with open arms, and the show lays some ground work for some upcoming confrontations in the future.

Case in point, “The Book of Boba Fett” establishes that his reign isn’t going to be easy.

The biggest problem is that for all of the amazing creators at the helm- and how interesting the synopsis sounds- the execution feels more like a meandering glossover of the desert dunes. I don’t like to continually compare one thing to another, but “The Book of Boba Fett” is a direct result of “The Mandalorian,” and it is inextricably tied to those foundations. One of the things that makes “Mandalorian” so interesting is that he is a new character exploring a relatively unexplored world. We follow Din Djarin as he goes through relics of the past, allowing for the show to continually create new, unique adventures with scattered fan service and fan favorites. “Book of Boba Fett” doesn’t really have any of that newness, opting to tell a story fans should already be familiar with and failing to expand on the more interesting narrative of Boba Fett the ruler.

Disney+

It’s not bad, just largely forgettable. “The Book of Boba Fett” certainly sports that Disney money production value, and the two leads of Morrison and Wen are doing the best they can with what they’re given. It’s beautiful look at, but it’s all style and no substance. Rodriguez is a capable director with the right material, and both Favreau and Filoni and have more than proven their strong story telling capabilities. But somehow, none of these things come together the way I think it was intended. It wants to be “The Mandalorian,” but it also wants to retell Fett’s story, and even still it wants to be a new addition to extensive, post film franchise story. It just simply doesn’t do any one of them particularly well, so when they all get smashed together, “The Book of Boba Fett” feels more like a jumble of ideas rather than a fully realized addition the Star Wars universe.

It’s a very rocky start for such a promising introduction, and I’m not entirely sure first episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” does enough to entice viewers to watch more. There’s simply not a story we haven’t seen before, and the need to retread a tired past with nothing new to add while simultaneously skimping on the more intriguing elements of the new story. It’s not the abysmal failure I’ve heard other outlets claim, but it’s also not the welcomed return of a fan favorite, either.

And since I’ve already brought on the ire of bounty hunter diehards, I might as well double down and die on the hill. “The Book of Boba Fett” neuters an otherwise ruthless character in effort to make him more sympathetic than he needs to be. We already love The character as is, but the Disney-fication, killer with a heart of gold who rather spare life than take it is a huge disservice to the character. I’m not saying Boba Fett needs to go around killing people like he’s the terminator, but leaning hard on the good guy, hero bit feels unearned and kind of jarring. Characters can grow, sure. But by the very nature of who he is, he’s anti-hero at best and should still have some rawness to him.

Disney+

This was done much better in “The Mandalorian,” finally granting us a look at a bad ass we always knew he could be. He was rough around the edges, but wasn’t without any kind of moral compass. “The Book of Boba Fett” paints him as a benevolent and merciful leader, incapable of bad deeds and only wanting peace. I’m sorry, but that’s just not Boba Fett. And if that’s who you want him to be, showing that progression throughout the season is a much better narrative choice than forcing this new personality on viewers in the very first episode. Everything about it just seems off, and never quite finds its footing to be a meaningful entrance into the Star Wars Universe.

It pains me to be so down on “The Book of Boba Fett,” but I think he’s better off staying in the Sarlacc Pit.

Rating: 2.5 Out of 5 Stars

New episodes hit Disney+ on Wednesdays.

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