erik lundegaard


Wednesday May 18, 2022

The Book on The Book of Boba Fett

I was never a huge Boba Fett fan. I was there at the beginning, original “Star Wars” with lines around the block and are you a Luke or Han guy; and then “Empire” dropped and suddenly dudes were talking Boba Fett. Boba who? You mean the guy that turned in Han? You're not supposed to like him! But many of my contemporaries did. They thought he was cool. And even though he went into the mouth of the desert-monster thingy in “Return of the Jedi,” the legend grew. And eventually we learned—I guess in the prequels or one of the cartoon shows I never watched—that Boba was the model for the stormtroopers. They're all clones of him. Or his father? Or something? And he's a clone of his father, too? Another example of how, in trying to connect his universe, George Lucas destroys it.

Long way of saying I didn't jump right on Disney's latest “Star Wars” series, “The Book of Boba Fett,” even though I liked “The Mandalorian” enough. But this spring I finally got around to it. I'd heard it had Luke in it. The return of Luke! Looking like 1983 Mark Hamill! With scenes and everything! I was always a Luke guy. How could I miss that?


And I liked the Boba Fett stuff.

I liked that they didn't explain it. They just take us to Tatooine, and the now darkened, empty halls of Jaba the Hutt's lair, and then outside into the desert, and eventually down into the mouth of that desert-monster thingy, the sarlacc, with Boba Fett in its maw, or stomach, or wherever he is. And how he blasts his way out. And how the Jawas arrive and strip the Mandalorian armor from the unconscious Boba Fett. Then a Tusken tribe takes his body. I liked seeing all these creatures again. I assumed Boba would eventually turn the tables on the Tuskens, the Sand People, who make him a kind of slave. Instead, he proves his worth, adapts, and is welcomed into the tribe. He likes the Tuskens. He basically becomes the T.E. Lawrence of Tatooine.

All of this is intercut with later scenes where Boba is the crime lord of Mos Espa, with Fennec Shand (Wen Ming-Na) by his side. (Aside: Wen is nearly 60 years old and hot as all get-out.)

So I liked how it opened. But when it shifts to pick up on the Mandalorian's story in episode 5, and when in ep. 6 we get my man Luke and baby Yoda, now named Grogu, I was hugely disappointed. I'd somehow forgotten that, yes, during the prequels they'd made the Jedi boring. They made them assholes. They created a kind of Buddhist ascetism, which the Jedi-in-training has to follow whether he's a twentysomething Luke or a baby Yoda. We see Luke training baby Yoda and it's kind of painful to watch. The Mandalorian shows up, essentially Grogu's dad, with a present for him, chain mail, and isn't even allowed to see him. And Luke presents Grogu with a choice: the chain mail and life with Mando, or Yoda's lightsabre and life as a Jedi. “But you may choose only one,” he says. For life. He says this to a baby.

So stupid. Luke's path to the Jedi-hood was way more haphazard: Yeah, there's this thing called the Force, here's how you try to access it, not bad, hey, the Force is strong with this one, OK, why don't you go to Dagobah and learn from this dude Yoda? And by the time he chose the path he had nothing to lose: no parents, no aunt/uncle, no Ben. He had nothing to give up. And now he's asking Grogu—a baby—to give up his dad.

Anyway, Grogu chooses Mando, and good for him. Maybe that'll begin to set this galaxy on the right path. Lord knows the Jedi haven't helped much. One wonders, in fact, if the problem with this galaxy isn't just the bad guys, the Empire, but the good guys, too, and their ascetic rites. Both sides are just different kinds of assholes: one takes, one denies. Two sides of the same fucking coin.

My other takeaway from “The Book of Boba Fett” was what a potpourri of film history it was. “Lawrence of Arabia” was just the start. We also got the kids from “Quadrophenia,” an alien cowboy looking like Lee Van Cleef from the Leone-Eastwood movies, and King Kong. I liked the alien cowboy. I thought the “Quadrophenia” stuff a bit silly. 

But I think it went from homage to derivative in the final episode when it lifted lines directly from the early “Godfather” movies. As the other crime families align with the Pyke Syndicate, betraying Boba Fett, Mando says, “It was the smart move,” echoing Michael's line about Tessio's betrayal. Then, trapped, Boba sends Mok Shaiz's Majordomo (an excellent David Pasquesi) to negotiate the terms of his surrender, which turn out to be “Nothing,” echoing Michael's line from “II” about what he's willing to offer the scumbag U.S. Senator. I doubt the makers of “Boba Fett” thought they were scamming anyone—that we wouldn't notice. I'm sure they thought it was homage. But it still felt wrong. The way to create cool lines is not to lift the cool lines of better films. You gotta write them.

Posted at 10:47 AM on Wednesday May 18, 2022 in category TV