By Josh Bate
Boba Fett has fascinated Star Wars fans for decades, ever since his first appearance in the animated portion of the famed Holiday Special in 1978. Since then, he’s appeared in Star Wars films including the latter two Original Trilogy films and Attack of the Clones as well as countless comics and novels. Still, Boba has always existed on the periphery, never the leading man and, instead, the cool looking, badass bounty hunter that we know very little about, bar his surface level origin story in the prequels. The latest Disney+ series, announced via a post-credits scene in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale, finally gives Fett an opportunity to be in the spotlight in the leading role for the first time in live action.
Warning: This review containers spoilers for the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett
One of the standout features of The Book of Boba Fett’s pilot is its structure, characterized by extensive use of flashbacks that mark a stark change from previous Star Wars content. The flashbacks of Chapter 1 begin with a quick montage of Boba’s origins on Kamino and his father’s death on Geonosis, visual callbacks that were arguably the highlight of the episode. After that, fans finally get to see how Boba survived the infamous Sarlacc Pit in a thrilling, albeit brief, sequence. The camera’s proximity to the lead character in this scene adds to the tense and claustrophobic feeling of the inside of a Sarlaac’s digestive system, something fans have never seen visualized on camera before. The structure of the episode certainly gives the flashbacks plenty of time to develop, with Chapter 1 beginning and ending with a look to the past.
The middle portion of the episode follows Boba as he navigates Tatooine shortly after claiming Bib Fortuna and Jabba the Hutt’s former throne. The structure of this episode, while certainly unique for live-action Star Wars content, leads to a stop-start feel to things that ultimately disrupts the pacing. The episode begins with flashbacks, something almost expected given the trailers and the promise to show how Boba escaped the Sarlacc Pit, which makes sense and works well. However, once we flash forward to the present day, it feels as if the story has decidedly shifted gears for the time being. The episode unexpectedly closes out with another extensive flashback sequence that brings the story of Boba and Fennec’s adventures on Tatooine to an abrupt halt. While it’s amazing to see Boba showcased in any point in his life, there were perhaps more efficient and approachable ways to distribute these flashback scenes throughout the episode.
Some may label the pilot as ‘filler’ or uneventful, which we don’t agree with. The episode doesn’t need a massive cameo or huge, galaxy shattering event in order to be labeled as effective or entertaining. While it would have most certainly benefited with some sort of tease of what’s to come in the present day as a way to show potential for the story’s direction in the season to come, it wasn’t exactly necessary. Rather, the episode leaves a little to be desired in regards to Boba’s characterization. Boba is in the limelight, but he’s largely kept at a distance in a way, as the audience doesn’t really get to have an emotional connection with the character in this first episode. For comparison, the pilot of The Mandalorian showed Din Djarin shooting IG-11 to protect the Child, who he was only just meeting at the time, and the two instinctively reaching out to each other, setting up the father son relationship and immediately establishing an emotional connection between the audience and the title character. Nonetheless, this is a harsh critique given that we have merely opened Chapter 1 of what will surely be a sprawling exploration of Boba’s character.
Ultimately, though, The Book of Boba Fett is an incredibly entertaining watch. There’s plenty of action to dig into, and just seeing the Star Wars galaxy again is a treat. Temuera Morrison’s performance deserves particular praise, as the New Zealand actor plays the role in a way only he can. In the past, some have discussed the possibility of casting a different actor in the role of Fett, perhaps for a solo movie, but Morrison puts all of that talk to rest here (if he hadn’t already). He shines through amidst a world full of eye-catching characters and actors, displaying Boba’s honor (if it can be described as that) extraordinarily well. It’s great to have Morrison back in Star Wars, and especially in a starring role. On a broader note, Robert Rodriguez directs this episode well, calling upon his action movie experience to add a level of class to the many fighting scenes in the episode. Rodriguez also directed Boba’s first full-fledged appearance in The Mandalorian Season 2, and captured the brutality and mastery in combat of the character we all clamored to see. This certainly carries over into the new series, and Rodriguez’ continued involvement with Fett is a welcomed one.
The same must be said for Ming-Na Wen, who first appeared in The Mandalorian Season One as the villainous bounty Hunter Fennec Shand. Chapter 1 already establishes that the relationship between Boba and Fennec will be central to the series’ plot and, continuing from their work in The Mandalorian, Morrison and Wen have great chemistry together. Also of note in this episode are the Tusken Raiders, depicted as Boba’s captors following his escape from the Sarlacc Pit. This is a different tribe of Tusken Raiders. They dress differently, act slightly differently, and capture your attention in the episode. This is emphasized by Chapter 1’s closing moment in which the leader of the camp shares water with Boba, a sign of respect and potential brotherhood to come.
The Book of Boba Fett kicks off in somewhat underwhelming fashion compared to its Disney+ predecessors. Chapter 1 is hindered by an unusual and slightly jarring structure, but makes up for this misstep with plenty of great moments, well-crafted action sequences, and terrific call-backs. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what’s to come in future episodes of The Book of Boba Fett.
Images courtesy of Disney+ & Lucasfilm