Chris Connor reviews the series premiere of Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett…
Boba Fett has been a key figure in Star Wars iconography for over 40 years, first appearing in the infamous The Star Wars Holiday Special before featuring in a supporting role in Episodes V & VI. While his distinctive appearance, wearing what would become known as Mandalorian attire, made him stand apart from other characters, the bounty hunter was not given much of a role to justify his hype until The Mandalorian. Hot on the heels of that first live-action series, Boba now finally gets his own vessel in the shape of The Book of Boba Fett which follows on from The Mandalorian and fills in some of the narrative gaps following Return of the Jedi.
The opening episode of the series entitled ‘Stranger In a Strangeland’ shows Boba in a state of deep sleep plagued by dreams of his past; we see brief glimpses of his homeworld Kamino and young Boba mourning his father following his death in Attack of the Clones. The opening ten minutes which is entirely without dialogue shows Boba escaping from the Sarlacc pit, seemingly overlapping with the events of Return of the Jedi. His escape has been a subject of hot debate since Boba’s return in the second series of The Mandalorian and makes a good place for this series to begin -although the abrupt nature of how this is resolved may not proving so pleasing to everyone.
The episode cuts back between the segments depicting Boba’s imprisonment at the hands of Tusken Raiders post-Sarlaac and his efforts to begin his governance over Mos Espa having assumed control of Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire. The latter segments offer a glimpse at a more human side to the bounty hunter as he “intends to rule with respect” meeting with those who pledged their allegiance to his predecessors. This opening episode offers a look at the relationship between Boba and Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand who was of course introduced in The Mandalorian and also features prominently in the animated Bad Batch series. The pair’s relationship is fun and brings some lighter moments to what could otherwise be as dry as the Tatooine sands.
Temuera Morrison has played the roles of Boba and Jango since 2002’s Attack of the Clones but rarely been given an opportunity to dive into the psyche of the character and here he is almost the sole focus of the episode. With the structure bearing many tropes from Westerns, Morrison is silent for much of the episode, and excels at capturing Boba’s fighting instinct and ability to survive in the wilderness. Offsetting the vulnerability of his situation in the past with his position atop the underworld is clever and allows Morrison to show several layers to the character.
Robert Rodriguez returns for directing duties, having helmed ‘The Tragedy’ from The Mandalorian’s second season . Rodriguez is responsible for some fine action films including Desperado and so feels a natural choice to helm a grittier more Western-inspired series. While the action scenes aren’t quite as engrossing as some from The Mandalorian or Rogue One we are treated to some kinetic parkour sequences that represent a change in action and help capture Fennec’s athletic abilities.
Far from feeling like a carbon copy of its predecessor The Mandalorian, the opening episode of The Book of Boba Fett offers some interesting glimpses at where the series may ultimately head, the dual timeframe narrative helps unpack some lingering long-term questions fans have been wanting answers for and also ensures the narrative which began in The Mandalorian is continued. Of course as with all the Disney Star Wars productions to date this is visual treat, capturing the beautiful but desolate nature of Tatooine. Ludwig Göransson’s score suits the earthy tone and is clearly differentiated enough from his other work in the franchise showing he is a worthy successor to John Williams.
This opener should please long term fans of the franchise offering answers to several questions while teasing a few more, such as the mysterious Mayor who seems set to play the role of one of the series’ antagonists. While perhaps not flying out of the gate at light-speed this is still an impressive opening episode and so far The Book of Boba Fett looks set to be another success within the franchise.