The Book of Boba Fett Is An Odd Pick For A Show
The Book of Boba Fett seemed like an outlier when I considered it for review. A strange tangent for the Star Wars universe to explore. In the grand scheme of the current version of the universe (I’m sure the no-longer-canon books had him a ton), Boba Fett is a blip. He’s a character with a cool design whose father isn’t even that big a deal in the movie he appears in. Sure, Obi-Wan Kenobi can be a show—that makes sense. It would make sense for Padmé, Dooku, or Mace Windu, but Boba? Maybe I’m missing something in the vast halls of continuity that justifies this closer look. Maybe he’s been bouncing around the cartoons a lot, and people have been demanding his own series. I don’t know. I still don’t know. But when I started watching, I wasn’t hopeful for much.
But I shouldn’t have judged it that harshly. The Book of Boba Fett has its negatives, but a crime lord attempting to handle the power vacuum after Jabba’s/Bib’s death is a solid premise for a show. I love the idea of a ground-up look at how one of the most iconic planets in Star Wars actually operates. It’s got the same appeal I mentioned in my review of Andor.
This Show Is A Deep Exploration Of Star Wars Lore
However, that’s not most of the first three episodes. Boba’s growing power and political wheelings and dealings take mostly a backseat to a different story. Seemingly more than half of these initial episodes’ length is devoted to the Tusken plotline.
And the Tuskens are a complicated subject. They’re specifically based on the Bedouin people. And anytime you evoke real-world cultures, races, religions, or anything of that sort through an alien race in fiction, it can lead to problems. There are controversies related to this show I didn’t know about when I started watching it. And, further, I’m not the person to talk about these things. You can find plenty of articles by more informed people online exploring it—and I encourage you to do so.
I’ll say this: as far as I’m aware, this is the most in-depth exploration of Tusken’s culture in the entire Star Wars cinematic universe. We learn about their day-to-day lives and even a little about how they survive in such a harsh environment. We see them use a unique sign language invented for the species by the creators. They’re not treated as villains the entire story, but they do start out enslaving multiple people. It’s a much deeper look at a non-human species than we’ve ever seen in Star Wars, and that is notable.
The Tuskens Get A Lot Of Focus In Early Episodes
The coolest action scene with the Tuskens is a proper science fiction/fantasy-style train heist. It was fun seeing speeders try to keep pace as they boarded and the combatants using momentum and vertical movement for ambushes and attacks. The practical-effects droid conductor was mesmerizing as they used their many arms to desperately flip switches and spin dials to knock the ambush party off. It was a dynamic scene, a highlight of the three episodes, and the stunt work was top-notch.
As to the other parts of the series—the initial premise I mentioned above—it presents an interesting anti-hero scenario. Boba Fett replaced a crime lord and is now being a crime lord. A lot of dialog is him being asked if he wants someone killed, and you get the impression he’s not bothered by murder. He was a bounty hunter, after all. But The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t want to engage in that aspect of its own scenario. It doesn’t want to explore the morals of organized crime in this universe. And it bafflingly achieves this goal of diverting attention with a writing trick.
The Book of Boba Fett Turns Boba Fett Into A Hero
In a Brandon Sanderson writing lecture, he talks about making a character likable by them being competent. The Book of Boba Fett is one of the best examples of that tenet I’ve yet seen. Boba Fett (played by Temuera Morrison) is likable because he routinely navigates complex scenarios, posturing, and standoffs by cutting through the crap. No nonsense—no spectacle: all confidence. His scenes with The Majordomo (played amazingly by David Pasquesi) are important in making this running theme work because their interactions continuously let Boba be a pragmatist compared to the political double-talk. Further, there’s great joy to be found in seeing someone competently sort out problems and gain allies with minimal bloodshed. Star Wars is a violent universe with many extremely lethal weapons, and Boba fires very few shots in the first three episodes. You’d think that would be a downside in an action series, but the conversations that replace them are often incredible scenes.
Another thing this show does that’s immensely satisfying is ditching CGI constantly, even if the moments in question would look better with CGI. The armor characters wear is actually bulky and heavy like armor should be. I don’t get the impression Boba is even comfortable in his own suit. Droids and aliens are often just people in elaborate masks, puppets, stop-motion animation, animatronics, a combination of those things, or some other physical prop. And, yeah, sometimes this looks goofy. Sometimes it looks extremely goofy—like when the fish aliens talk—but it’s also charming as heck. Over time, it becomes easier and easier to suspend disbelief and barely notice the seams. The Book of Boba Fett quickly felt like a tactile world—and that’s just good worldbuilding.
The Passion Put Into The Effects Is Very Noticeable
But, since we’re talking about worldbuilding, I need to address another thing from the original films: The Hutts. They’re pretty fatphobic. I wish there was a better way to handle this species, but I’m pretty sure we’re stuck with this sort of depiction in basically any comprehensive look at Tatooine. On top of that, the Hutts we see—called “The Twins”—are probably the worst CGI thing in the show. They don’t look real, especially compared to their bodyguard Wookie and the already-mentioned heavy armor that often appears in the same scenes.
As to the characters I haven’t yet mentioned, the first few episodes focus little on anyone who isn’t Boba or a Tusken, but I’d like to highlight a few. Fennec (played by Ming-Na Wen) has a fun general attitude and plays off Boba with an almost brother-sister dynamic. 8D8 (voiced by Matt Berry) and The Mayor, Mok Shaiz (voiced by Robert Rodriguez), have fun voices and interesting dialog, and the practical effects that bring them to life are delightful. I also like that Boba has both teenage gang members and Gamorreans (though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Gamorreans’ design also has a problematic origin) hanging around his palace. They’re seemingly happily working together, and it makes for one of the most varied side-character groups I’ve seen in Star Wars. And, finally, in a surprise cameo, it was fun to see Danny Trejo show up. His character isn’t even named, but the scene with him and the rancor was a highlight of that episode, both in dialog and thematic resonance. Put simply, the cast is really solid.
The Book of Boba Fett Has Lots Of Fun Characters
So now, we’ve arrived at the wrap-up. The Book of Boba Fett has been—if you couldn’t tell—quite an interesting show to review. Between the first episode being named after a controversial book, the show having moments that sparked its own controversies, and weird pacing issues because of unevenly dividing two plots, it took a while for The Book of Boba Fett to settle in and for me to get where it was going. But, as more solid scenes stacked up, as Boba kept being an increasingly interesting character bouncing off of other increasingly interesting characters, I liked the show more and more. I’m not trying to excuse anything problematic here; more just give props to the commitment to practical effects, the good acting, the stronger plot beats, and just in general the stuff the show does well. It adds up. There’s quite a lot. And if you’re not burned out on Star Wars, I’d at least give The Book of Boba Fett a try.
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