3 out of 5 stars
Spoiler warning: this review contains minor spoilers for several episodes.

Since his first appearance in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) and his enigmatic presence during The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the character of Boba Fett’s been shrouded in mystery. George Lucas himself later provided an endearing yet tragic origin story in the prequel trilogy, but fans clamoured for more. The deadly bounty hunter who seemingly died in Return of the Jedi (1983) not only survived but made a surprise appearance in season 2 of The Mandalorian. And now, after a full year of anticipation and extremely high expectations, Boba Fett returns with his own live-action TV series. After saving Star Wars from certain doom with The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau begins a new adventure with The Book of Boba Fett.

The Book of Boba Fett follows the eponymous anti-hero and mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) as they return to the sands of Tatooine. After taking over Jabba the Hutt’s throne from Bib Fortuna, Boba (Temuera Morrison) intends on ruling Mos Espa’s criminal underworld. However, unbeknownst to Boba, the Pyke Syndicate was promised control of the territory by the slimy Mayor, Mok Shaiz (Robert Rodriguez). The Pyke Syndicate has become a serious threat to the people of Tatooine since Jabb’s death, and as part of a lucrative deal they’ve been supplying the galaxy with a narcotic substance known as Spice. When the Syndicate moves its operations into Mos Espa, the newly appointed Daimyo intends on protecting his territory.

Despite a charismatic performance from Morrison (Aquaman), Boba Fett’s evolution from legendary bounty hunter to benevolent crime lord isn’t particularly interesting. The Book of Boba Fett succumbs to the franchise’s tendency to leave no corner of this galaxy unexplained. What made Boba such an engaging character in the Original Trilogy was that he was the ultimate enigma—known by Darth Vader and lurking in the shadows of Jabba the Hutt’s palace. As the series begins with its Boba replacing Jabba’s criminal empire, it’s easy to imagine an episodic story of revenge as Boba becomes the Daimyo of Mos Espa. Unfortunately, fans may be disappointed that this version of Boba is vastly different from the character that appeared in the 1980s. Through a series of flashbacks, we’re old what happened to Boba between his apparent demise in Return of the Jedi and his return in The Mandalorian. It’s an intriguing direction and allows a deeper understanding towards Boba’s pragmatic leadership. However, the duel narrative prevents an interesting crime drama amidst the streets of Tatooine from being established. 

Regardless, there’s plenty to like about The Book of Boba Fett, as the show introduces an impressive array of new characters that could be explored in the future. Cad Bane makes an explosive debut as he saunters into Freetown during “From the Desert Comes a Stranger”. The combination of Corey Burton’s (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood) voice and Dorian King’s (Venom) swagger makes a formidable impression. The blue-faced alien is perhaps one of the most fearsome and evil bounty hunters in Star Wars. Having previously only appeared in The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch animated series, Bane’s live-action debut is particularly exciting for fans. While Bane should have been introduced earlier to create some dramatic tension, it’s thrilling seeing Boba resolve some unfinished business. Another highlight is the introduction of the Wookiee gladiator, Black Krrsantan. Having been established in the ongoing Star Wars comic-books, Krrsantan is another of the few bounty hunters to rival Fett. While these characters may be unknown to casual fans, it’s exciting seeing Favreau bringing them into the core of this franchise.

One of the show’s strengths was in humanising the Tusken Raiders. Introduced in Star Wars (1977), they were depicted as murderous savages that wander the dunes of Tatooine, while the group who imprisoned Schmi Skywalker and drove her son Anakin into a bloodthirsty rage during Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) were unquestionably villainous. However, The Book of Boba Fett allows for a fresh perspective on the Tusken’s by underscoring their culture as Tatooine’s natives. After gaining their trust during “The Tribes of Tatooine” the Tusken’s allow Boba to live freely among them while learning their rituals. Due to his dedication to their honourable culture, he’s forged a Gaderffi and earns the tribal uniform he was adorned with during The Mandalorian. The Tusken Chief explains they had an ancestral claim to Tatooine before it was encroached upon by crime syndicates. Upon learning the Tusken’s are merely protectors of their land, we observe their plight through a far more sympathetic lens. As a long-time Star Wars fan, it’s always enjoyable when the franchise offers an insight into corners of the galaxy that have never been explored. 

Star Wars has always been a pastiche of various influences and The Book of Boba Fett continues to synthesise the imagery and style found in the Western genre. Returning directors including Steph Green (Preacher), Dave Filoni, and Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) deploy an impressive array of stunning set-pieces throughout the series. An incredible train heist during “The Tribes of Tatooine” echoes a sequence from Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Green’s commanding direction matches the ambition of anything the franchise has done on the big screen. Whereas, Feloni’s Mexican standoff during “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” could rival any Sergio Leone’s (For A Few Dollars More) iconic showdowns. Respectively, Rodriguez’s “In the Name of Honour” is a standout as it embraces a fantastic showdown between Boba and the Pyke Syndicate. Echoing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), the episode is littered with a plethora of great moments as it focuses on a classic Western shootout. Although the action doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Mandalorian, Favreau and Feloni undeniably have a penchant to write a climactic finale.

Unsurprisingly, the best chapters of The Book of Boba Fett are the chapters that involve the two well-established characters. The two entries where the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) takes centre stage are arguably the highlights of the series. “Return of The Mandalorian” follows the bounty hunter on his own journey across the Galaxy. During a visit to The Armourer, we see him compete with the Darksaber against Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher), who decides to claim his ancestor’s weapon. Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) also returns to help Mando restore a Naboo Starfighter since the Razor Chest was destroyed during season 2 of The Mandalorian. While “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” treats fans to seeing Luke Skywalker train Grogu in the ways of the Force. There’s a wonderful callback for fans of the original trilogy mirroring Luke’s own training with Yoda. But while those two episodes would’ve made great additions to season 3 of The Mandalorian, they make a minimal contribution to Boba’s own story. And it’s concerning how the best chapters of the series are less about the eponymous Boba Fett, being more of catchup on The Mandalorian.

Unfortunately, The Book of Boba Fett was always going to be at a disadvantage. The Mandalorian is already the perfect series for an armoured bounty hunter’s misadventures. There are moments of great storytelling during Boba’s flashbacks that provide meaningful context behind his more pragmatic leadership, but Favreau seems increasingly unsure how to handle his Mandalorian counterpart during his rise as Daimyo. The series struggles to find its footing due to its underdeveloped narrative and pacing issues. Perhaps this could have been resolved if two out of seven episodes didn’t focus entirely on the Mandalorian. Regardless, a crowd-pleasing finale makes the series a worthwhile viewing experience with plenty of fan service. It’s evidently clear Favreau has big plans for his extended universe as Mando and Grogu reunite to continue their own adventures.

USA | 2022 | 7 EPISODES | 2:39:1 | COLOUR | ENGLISH

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Cast & Crew

writer: Jon Favreau.
directors: Robert Rodriguez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dave Feloni & Kevin Tancharoen.
Starring: Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, Pedro Pascal, Timothy Olyphant, Amy Sedaris, Sophie Thatcher & Matt Berry (voice).