Squeaky Mouse Droid Anthology: Star Wars Expands!
Can you have too much of a good thing? Probably not, but it was certainly the question that Star Wars fans across the globe had to ask themselves the past weekend, as Star Wars Celebration took place in Anaheim, California. For Squeaky Mouse Droid, there was too much of a good thing in terms of how much could be commented on in a tiny column such as this.
Celebration events streamed from the main Star Wars website and its corresponding YouTube channel all weekend. It looked like a lot of fun, featuring fun interviews in talk show-like environments with the likes of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) and additional celebrity interviews were held in a recreated Mos Eisley cantina bar, pictures of which you can see below.
Add that to vendors selling Star Wars merchandize of all kinds, with halls adorned with statues of some of the franchises most iconic war vehicles, and you have yourself the ultimate Star Wars experience. But there was more: this was truly the occasion for Disney (who now owns Lucasfilm) to give fans across the world a peek into its plans to expand the Star Wars galaxy. It all kicked off with the Force Awakens panel on Thursday Morning. Director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy (who also runs Lucasfilm) promoted the first Star Wars film in this new expansion, The Force Awakens, by sharing some new stills, as well as by bringing out actors both old and new and showing that new teaser trailer to the world.
One of the remarks that got a big applause during this panel was Abram’s commitment to incorporating more practical effects into this film, in order to keep the look and feel of the new film to be consistent with the original trilogy, which was made long before the advent of CGI technology. After the applause started to die down, he introduced some of the droid designers that worked on the film, and they were joined on stage by both R2-D2 and BB-8, the newcomer to the Star Wars pantheon of droids.
After seeing the initial teaser trailer last November, many fans speculated that BB-8 would have to be a computer-generated character. How else could this strange ball-droid actually operate? However, the new droid was as real and practical as R2-D2 himself, and he proved it to the fans by moving around on stage.
Some of the new actors from the Force Awakens were also introduced, including Daisy Ridley, who has never been in spotlight before (she handled it all with a lot of charm; she was so confident). John Boyega revealed that he never told his parents that he landed the part of Finn until after the initial cast photo was revealed (would anyone, even his parents, really believe him before that?) and Oscar Isaac revealed that his character, Poe Dameron, is the best pilot in the galaxy. It was notable that the only new actors that were brought on stage were only the ones that were already teased in the trailers released to this point: Adam Driver (who fans speculate may be playing Kylo Ren, but no one knows for sure), Domhall Gleason, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, and Max Von Sydow did not join the new actors on stage at this event; who these actors are playing is still a mystery that Lucasfilm is keeping a lid on.
Ironically, not much new information about the film was released during that panel, save for these two interesting points:
- The desert planet we have seen in the trailers and in endless stills is not Tatooine, as everyone had suspected. The planet is actually Jakku.
- Poe Dameron was sent on a mission by “a certain princess,” which, in all likelihood, is Leia herself.
The new cast was joined onstage by members of the old cast, including, Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels, as well as a band of the new stormtroopers. (Harrison Ford did not attend this convention, though Abrams said he very much wanted to join the cast on stage.) This big occasion allowed fans a moment to catch much of the film’s cast standing together as a photo-op; everyone pulled out their mobile devices and started clicking away.
A panel was held about season two of Rebels, wherein the first two episodes were shown. To get an idea of what that’s like, look at the fantastic trailer:
[youtube id=”Av8GjpGK98A” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Another panel was held on the new Battlefront game, which will be released in November. As you can see form the game trailer below, it looks amazing.
[youtube id=”S3PPXX9fa5U” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Since this video game is now considered part of of the official Star Wars canon, there are a few interesting observations that fans can talk about.
- The battle of Jakku (the remnants of which can be seen in the first shot of the Force Awakens teaser trailer) will likely be a playable stage in this game.
- Boba Fett “officially” survived his encounter with Sarlacc.
- The rebels incorporate Gungan technology. Eeesh!
As the weekend drew to a close, there was a panel that discussed some of the other projects that Lucasfilm had in development to expand the franchise, including one for the new Rogue One film. Gareth Edwards, the director of the 2016 film, showed off a new teaser for the project and discussed it in some detail. This was the first official confirmation as to what this film would be like.
The teaser, which has not officially dropped online (but finding a leaked version of it isn’t all that hard) depicted the lush landscape of a thriving planet, with birds flying over a beautiful forest canopy, Accompanied by a voice-over by Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi reminiscing on the fall of the Jedi (from A New Hope) s the camera pans forward and up, a single TIE fighter whizzes across the sky, toward the Death Star, looming large in the sky at the horizon. Could this planet be Alderaan in the moments just before its destruction in A New Hope? Or is it another world? The teaser ends with the voices of panicking rebel pilots.
Edwards revealed that production has not yet started on the film, and that this teaser was created rather quickly by the aces at ILM.
He also revealed a few other tidbits about the film:
- The film “will revolve around a rogue band of resistance fighters who unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans and bring new hope to the galaxy”according to Edwards. It will have a darker tone than the numbered entries of the franchise.
- He is being assisted by film-making veterans who have made some of the best war films, such as War Horse, Zero Dark Thirty, Back Hawk Down, and Saving Private Ryan. Edwards noted that it is called Star Wars, and that this will look and feel like war film. He noted that the Force will not play a role in how the story turns out.
- The idea was first pitched by John Knoll, the special effects legend and creator of Photoshop
- The new logo for the film debuted here, which in tern revealed how these stand-alone films will be titled to differentiate themselves from the “episodes.” Kennedy said the will be called the Star Wars Anthology Series. This film is called Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One.
- As for whether Darth Vader will appear: Edwards said some things must be left as a surprise.