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‘Book of Boba Fett’ Review: Disney+ New ‘Star Wars’ Series Stumbles

Filling in gaps of a cult favourite’s backstory — and time between “Mandalorian” seasons — reads like gratuitous padding on this unimaginative debut.

[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “The Book of Boba Fett” Episode 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land.”]

When “The Mandalorian” premiered within the winter of 2019, it gave its titular hero (and the world) the present of Grogu (aka Child Yoda). When “The E book of Boba Fett” debuted in December 2021 — an compulsory spinoff of that first, very profitable, Disney+ sequence — it gave its titular hero… a drink of water.

A sort studying of such a easy ending could be that “Star Wars” is getting again to fundamentals. Quite than go overboard with the “greater is best” mentality sometimes connected to Hollywood successors, “The E book of Boba Fett” caught to its core story. In Episode 1, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) splits his time between the current — the place he’s establishing rule in Jabba the Hut’s outdated territory — and goals (nightmares?) of the previous, the place he’s simply attempting to outlive. Jawas steal his armor. He’s overwhelmed and held captive by Tuskan Raiders. He’s pressured to dig together with his naked arms for orbs of water and, when he finds one, his keeper pours the dear liquid into the sand quite than let him have any. It’s solely after he decapitates a six-armed monster that Boba’s fortune traits upward, incomes their respect and, thus, a couple of refreshing sips.

In idea, after his backlit hero shot — standing atop the scaly lizard, chains dangling from its lifeless neck, lenses flaring from the flashes of daylight behind his triumphant torso — Boba is supposed to earn our respect, too. Besides… he already did. The blaster-touting captor of Han Solo attracted a large fandom with just some temporary appearances within the authentic trilogy. Sporting battle-worn armor, a smooth helmet, and a fearless angle, the bounty hunter’s cool issue was so excessive it led not solely to his resurrection (after showing to perish in “Return of the Jedi”), however offered the template for “The Mandalorian” to change into one in every of TV’s greatest hits.

Now with a sequence all his personal, Boba has to dwell as much as the mythology inbuilt audiences’ imaginations, and within the premiere, he falls manner, manner quick. What some could savor as a comfy return to “Star Wars” territory, others may even see as a rote, uninspired rehash. One of many greatest questions surrounding the bounty hunter’s survival post-“Jedi” is, “How did he escape the Sarlacc pit?” Again when Jabba was dropping our bodies again in 1983, the toothy rubbish disposal embedded within the desert flooring impressed quick and lasting terror. Not solely had been there all these enamel, however an enormous worm-monster (which, whereas largely unseen, appears like a cross between the Graboids in “Tremors” and Audrey II from “Little Store of Horrors”) awaited anybody who averted the bowl of daggers.

(Center): Jennifer Beals in a scene from Lucasfilm's THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Jennifer Beals in “The E book of Boba Fett”

Courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

“The E book of Boba Fett” wastes no time leaping into the pit to clarify how Boba acquired out, however maybe sequence creator and episode author Jon Favreau ought to’ve taken a couple of extra minutes to assume on it. Proven in flashback, Boba wakes up mid-digestion and wades by way of the slimy darkness to a dull storm trooper. After stealing his oxygen tube and catching his breath, he punches a gap by way of some random Sarlacc intestinal wall, shoots a burst of fireside, after which… crawls out? The subsequent factor we see is Boba’s fist punching by way of the desert sand, earlier than the remainder of his greased-up physique tumbles out, exhausted however alive. Given not solely how lengthy it’s been since followers first witnessed what they thought was the bounty hunter’s dying, but additionally the essential tenets of storytelling — let’s see the battle in order that then his resurrection seems like an achievement — the 90-second scene makes for a substantial letdown.

Most of his adventures up to now really feel equally middling. Do we have to see Boba sparring with Tuskens? Or being dragged behind a bantha? Or combating with a badly CGI’d dragon canine? “The Mandalorian” discovered nice success as a live-action Saturday morning cartoon, delivering episodic adventures crammed with enjoyable cameos and a smattering of serialized hooks. However the premiere of “Boba Fett” is simply too low-stakes to scratch that very same itch. Fights are merely staged. Conquests are predictable. (What number of instances have we seen a prisoner in chains choke his opponent with those self same shackles?) Banter goes in a single ear and out the opposite.

Issues get a bit extra intriguing within the current, as Boba — alongside Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) — tries to instill a benevolent dictatorship in Jabba’s outdated city. You need to love an armored bounty hunter who preaches peace whereas hunting down a metropolis’s value of corrupt pests, simply as you need to love David Pasquesi taking part in an alien politico, attempting to persuade management away from Boba on behalf of his boss, the mayor. Jennifer Beals, because the native cantina proprietor, is one other welcome forged member amongst a a bunch simply engaging sufficient to spur religion in enjoyable scenes to come back.

However there’s nothing within the first episode that makes “The E book of Boba Fett” must-see TV, and little that makes it memorable. Even with screenshots, gifs, and video clips populating the online like a wildfire in 2019, you continue to needed to log in to see Child Yoda for your self. The promise of an odd-couple, father-son saga gave the impression of blissful enjoyable even earlier than the pandemic struck, however there have been additionally the lavish visuals, mysterious central determine, and common air of chance tied to the launch of “The Mandalorian.” Right here, Boba’s face is front-and-center all through. Any lingering ambiguity in regards to the man appears preferable to the solutions being offered. There’s loads of time left for “The E book of Boba Fett” to ascertain itself as a page-turner, however all that’s supplied on the outset is a sip of “Star Wars” to maintain subscribers satiated.

Grade: C

“The E book of Boba Fett” airs new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

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