Book of Boba Fett review: The desperate side of Star Wars

Tatooine is a rough location in Star Wars. Not everybody is the kind of individual who beings in a bar like Mos Eisley, that “wretched hive of scum and villainy,” however even the excellent and simply individuals of the desert world would likely confess that the sorrowful hive has all the power. A world far from the issues of the Imperial and the Disobedience, it doesn’t seem like a location for redemption. It’s ever-present servant trade, wetness farm raids, and criminal overlords appear to simply stress the matter.

Which is what makes its heroes so cherished. That Luke Skywalker of all individuals matured in a location like this, that it formed and formed him, belongs to his appeal. And it’s a big part of Boba Fett’s too, a minimum of in the very first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” which debuted Wednesday on Disney Plus.

Boba Fett crawling through the sand away from the Sarlacc pit

Boba Fett leaves the Sarlacc pit
Image: Disney Plus

There’s a lot on Boba Fett that will feel extremely familiar to fans of The Mandalorian, which won’t be a surprise to anybody who saw the fugitive hunter’s return because program. The 2 males are extremely comparable. Neither is susceptible to speaking much, both would be more than delighted simply to do their tasks and be left alone. However director Robert Rodriguez and author Jon Favreau are clear about one distinction: this is the gritty western area program where the criminal man with a cool helmet takes the helmet off.

And it’s a good thing, too, because to hide away Temura Morrison’s face for too long would be a grave mistake. The New Zealand actor, described in 1995 by Roger Ebert as “a leading actor as elemental, charismatic and brutal as the young Marlon Brando,” is on full display in Boba Fett. Gone is the mysterious allure of Mando, replaced with the pains and tensions of aging made undeniable on a face burned and beaten more times than its owner can count.

Morrison’s magnetism comes from a sense of desperation that seems to occupy Boba Fett at all times. The show starts with a flashback to Fett’s notable ending in the original trilogy, death via Sarlacc pit. But watching Boba’s escape from the belly of the beast doesn’t just feel like adding more details to his Wookiepedia page; it shows the desperation and hunger of a man willing to survive, even if he isn’t exactly sure why.

The sections of Stranger” set in these flashbacks are short on conversation and long on Boba Fett getting beaten up. There are Jawas, lizards, and most notably, Tusken Raiders. Morrison is pushed repeatedly to survive, barely allowed to drink water as he’s made part of a two-person chain gang. These scenes clearly have the same reference points as Mandalorian, with the long shots and dramatic scores of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns.

But while Mandalorian seemed to relish isolation, Boba Fett can’t find a moment to himself. Out of the Sarlacc pit and into the hands of Jawas for old Boba, there’s isn’t much distinction. There is the desperation of noir on Boba Fett’s Tatooine, which Guillermo del Toro recently described to the film magazine Little White Lies as “the tragedy that emerges between the haves and the have-nots.”

Fennec Shand and Boba Fett in the Book of Boba Fett

Fennec Shand and Boba Fett, ruling as the Hutts would

The next section of “Stranger” concerns Boba Fett’s new reign as a “have.” He’s been named the new head of the Hutt crime syndicate, which is a little like getting into Studio 54 after the last days of disco. There’s some prestige in the title, but things clearly aren’t what they used to be. The mayor, of all people, only sends his majordomo (David Pasquesi) to pay tribute and then ends up demanding tribute from Boba.

Pasquesi once played the ex-husband of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on Veep, and he clearly has a knack for getting under the skin of powerful people. He infuriates Fett’s second-in-command, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), with his rudeness and diplomacy-is-war-by-other-means attitude. Amidst a collapsing organization, the majordomo’s head appendages feel like a nautral-born jester’s hat, mocking a proud tradition.

There’s some nice comic work in Boba Fett, including Matt Berry as a droid seemingly once loyal to the Hutts. Pasquesi is one of the program’s stand-outs, allowing for a quick repreive from everyone on the show who would shoot first and ask questions later (most people).

The mayor’s majordomo in Book of Boba Fett

The majordomo has a face that clearly deserves to be punched.

Fett doesn’t want to be an extravagant crime boss like any of his slug-like predecessors. He wants to be a crime boss of the people, walking under his own two feet with two green pig-man bodyguards by his side. He wants to rule with respect, not fear. But the question of if the people and various bosses of Tatooine want such a ruler in the first place is wide open.

While Ming-Na Wen gets some good shots in, Book of Boba Fett is focused on Morrison’s rage, boiling just underneath the surface. It’s hard to tell where any of this will go, but the show appears to content for viewers to understand that first and foremost, this is a guy who will not serve a master. Not any longer.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.