The Book of Boba Fett review: How Boba lost his groove
5 / 5 ( 1 vote )
How Boba lost his groove This dull, over-indulgent Star Wars spin-off leaves you longing for The Mandalorian instead.
This is a spoiler-free review based on all seven episodes of Season 1.
The Mandalorian is the best and worst thing to happen to Star Wars. The fact that it takes The Book of Boba Fett to prove it tells you everything you need to know about Boba Fett’s solo outing – it’s a TV series so caught up in the success of its bounty hunter counterpart that it forgets to make its own protagonist interesting.
Fett has long been a fan favourite, after his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back left audiences wondering about the backstory behind this cool, enigmatic figure – and Return of the Jedi left them longing for their own jetpack. Temeura Morrison’s appearance in The Mandalorian (reprising the adult live-action role after playing Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones) sparked imaginations among Star Wars aficionados, as it became clear that Boba had somehow survived the sarlacc pit he tumbled into during Episode VI.
But while The Mandalorian demonstrated the appetite for small screen Star Wars with a Western-tinged vibe, The Book of Boba Fett confuses that series’ less-is-more thrills with more-is-more nostalgia – running for seven episodes, almost half of them are dedicated to showing us exactly how Fett lived to jetpack another day. It’s a painfully detailed piece of exposition, one that’s meted out in flashback to try and generate some mystery, but having seen the end result in an entirely different series, there’s little reason for us to care, and even less of a reason for that filling in of the blanks to drag down the show’s pace.
The bits of the show that do work, tellingly, are the elements drawn from other properties. A subplot involving Tusken Readers on Tatooine, who are exploited by cartels looking to profit from the planet’s spice, feels like a rip-off from Dune, while the introduction of assassin Fennec Shand (the superb Ming-Na Wen) is merely a springboard for the show to replay The Mandalorian’s greatest hits – it says a lot that such cameos (including Timothy Olyphant’s marshal Cobb Vanth) are so much more entertaining than its main character that even the writers get distracted and go off on bottle-episode tangents just to fill up the seven-hour runtime. Halfway through, Jabba the Hutt’s cousins talk about flying off to their home of Nal Hutta, but Boba Fett disappointingly doesn’t decide to join them, leaving us stuck on Tatooine, literally raking over old ground.
As for the central promise to build up a gangster drama amid the sandy, crime-strewn streets, The Book of Boba Fett winds up as uneven as its focus. There’s the danger of the Pyke cartel to worry about, a group of speeder bike tearaways to be recruited for reasons, a sycophantic steward (David Pasquesi) to Tatooine’s mayor, a Wookie (Carey Jones) with anger issues, a droid voiced by Matt Berry and a sharp-shooting villain. With them vying for attention in the crowded void left behind by an absent main character, none of them leave a lasting impression, which means that a shootout climax bringing all these threads together should be thrilling but actually ends up surprisingly dull.
This is no fault of Temeura Morrison, whose gritty charisma gives the eponymous bounty hunter a gruff nobility, but even his dedication – and a lively supporting turn from a rancor – can’t elevate the tedious storytelling and haphazard world-building. If The Mandalorian reminded us of the lasting appeal of Boba Fett, all The Book of Boba Fett does is leave you longing to spend more time with Mando and Baby Yoda – it’s hard to think of a TV show that so unwittingly undermines its own existence.