The Book of Boba Fest
This Mandalorian spin-off is disappointingly uninspired
As with every other major franchise today, Star Wars is expanding to the small screen with a slew of TV series. Star Wars seemed to hit its stride in TV with The Mandalorian (2019-) just as its film side was faltering with diminishing returns. The second series following The Mandalorian has just completed airing its seven episodes.
The Book of Boba Fett (2021-) follows the fan-favorite character that first made his appearance in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and has since been incorporated in prequels and TV spin-offs. The Book of Boba Fett is the starring vehicle that many fans had been long demanding for this character. Following the events of The Mandalorian season 2, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) has decided to shake-off his life as a bounty hunter and become his own crime lord in the desert planet of Tatooine. However, he finds that taking up such a mantle is going to ruffle the feathers of some in the criminal underworld. Alongside Fett’s rise to power, we get flashbacks to how he survived his supposed death in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), filling in narrative gaps fans had long speculated about.
The Book of Boba Fett is also created by The Mandalorian mastermind Jon Favreau, and he certainly brings the same aesthetic feel to this new series as seen in his previous one. Fett is paired with indebted bounty hunter Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and both Wen and Morrison do well to play off each other. Favreau also brings in Robert Rodriguez to direct a slew of the episodes, and the Texan director is able to infuse the sense of thrill and fun that he’s known for in his entries.
However, Favreau seems to struggle to tell a particular story about Fett’s character. There are certain constraints that The Book of Boba Fett dons that makes its events appear small and inconsequential. The first few episodes are slow and wandering, largely saved by the intriguing flashbacks of Fett and Tusken raiders. Whereas The Mandalorian seemed to thrive in creating and expanding its world and characters, The Book of Boba Fett feels duty-bound to stay stuck in one location and constantly reference previous Star Wars characters. This makes the watching of The Book of Boba Fett remind viewers of much better Star Wars properties instead.
Curiously this lack of interest in delving into Fett’s story is made clear by the series itself. The last three episodes are completely usurped by (SPOILER) the return of the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal). These are the strongest episodes of the entire season, and they barely feature Fett at all. Clearly Favreau is infinitely more interested in The Mandalorian and its arcs and characters than Boba Fett; leading one to wonder why he didn’t simply hand over creative control to a filmmaker with more passion for the character.
Many series can be saved by their season finale, and while The Book of Boba Fett finally brought back its titular character after sidelining him for nearly a third of its series run, the resulting “epic” battle was disappointing. Favreau seems to lean away from taking any risks throughout the series, so that the climactic battle has no stakes. The familiar “epic battle” beats are followed in painstaking detail making action sequences feel incredibly predictable. The result is that by the end of the finale, the characters are largely in the same place that they were when the series started. This begs the question: what was the point of this series existing in the first place?
In the end, The Book of Boba Fett feels more like a low-stakes bad episode from one of the Star Wars animated series, than the type of material the live action series has been delivering. Favreau still brings an impressive production value, and one can’t deny that it is nice to see familiar face popping up again in the Star Wars universe. However, as a stand-alone property, The Book of Boba Fett feels dully uninspired, bogging down (once again) one of the Star Wars characters with most wasted potential.