So after spending an awesome three days at Star Wars Celebration 2016, Ben and I are going to write a few collab’ pieces on the sights we saw, sounds we heard and secrets we… secreted? Ugh no.
Just to warn you, there was quite a big spoiler accidentally revealed that we’ve included in this review, but I’ve marked where we talk about it and where we stop, so just skip the area between the two warnings if you don’t want to know. Anyway, here’s a piece on the very exciting and very spoilerific Rogue One panel we had the pleasure of watching.
Lewis: So what did you think of the panel overall? Was it enjoyable?
Ben: It was pretty good, the only issue was Gwendoline Christie who kept shrieking everytime anyone cheered… but on the whole it was a pretty cool panel with some nice footage to go with it. The first people out on stage were Gareth Edwards, Kathy Kennedy, John Knoll and Kiri Hart (Both from Lucasfilm, Knoll having created the concept of the film), then the cast came out to more shrieks from Christie, and finally we were shown a behind-the-scenes reel and then a new teaser.
Lewis: Ah yes, the shrieks were a little over the top… but at least she was enthusiastic about it all
Ben: I suppose, but she was a major irritant for me.
Lewis: Gareth Edwards came over incredibly well in that panel, he really seems to have a great idea of what the universe is like and what kind of story he wants to tell, it also helps that he’s a massive fan of the franchise.
Ben: He did come across really well; just like JJ he’s a big Star Wars fan, he seemed to get what we all wanted to see from it.
Lewis: Indeed. I was pretty happy when John Knoll, who came up with the concept for the film, mentioned that it’ll be like the Guns of Navarone in its style (considering that’s what I was hoping for) – I love those films. Before we get into the footage they showed us, shall we talk about the cast a bit?
Ben: It was interesting to see the development of his idea from a Mission Impossible-style TV show that could have taken the spot of Clone Wars to, as you say, a Guns of Navarone style feature that stems from just one line in A New Hope’s opening crawl. Yes, who would you like to start with, Felicity Jones?
Lewis: Go on then, let’s have a quick (ha!) run-through. So basically they asked each cast member to explain a bit about their character and what defines them. Felicity Jones just confirmed what we already knew as far as I remember?
Ben: She confirmed that she was in fact a hero, but unlike Luke and Rey she is finding out what her purpose within the Rebellion is, rather than finding herself. Which is expected because unlike Luke and Rey, she only has 1 film to flesh out her character.
Lewis: Yeah, there was a big emphasis on the fact that she already knows who she is, but hasn’t figured out her purpose yet. Like you said, it’s a good idea considering this will be her only outing Which I suppose will be refreshing compared to the larger arcs of self-discovery we’ve had previously… How about Diego Luna, huh?
Ben: He seemed like a pretty cool guy, playing Captain Cassian Andor, of the Rebel Alliance Intelligence branch; Andor was able to reprogram K2SO and I can’t remember much else of what he said… care to jump in and save the day?
Lewis: I’m a big fan of his character so far, and he seems like a very chilled, funny guy. I think that was about it to be honest, but he did mention that, because everyone else in the team is very much an independent person, he’s the one who has to glue them altogether into a unit that can work together.
Ben: That’s right, despite Jones’ Jyn being the main character, Luna’s Andor is the real Alliance figure head. He also said that to begin with it is just him and Jyn before the other members of the team are recruited. Seeing as I have already mentioned him do you want to talk about Alan Tudyk as K-2SO?
Lewis: It seems like he has to keep her in check as well as leading the team… I’m excited to see his performance. And sure, why not?
Ben: We learnt quite a bit about Alan and K-2SO. The, formerly, Imperial droid was reprogrammed by Andor, but as a result of this isn’t right in the circuits, so speaks and says what he wants. He, like many of the droids in Stars Wars, appears to be a comic relief character.
Lewis: He’s definitely the most comical of the squad from what we’ve seen so far. I really liked that short clip they played with him, Andor and Erso interacting; I think Alan Tudyk and Diego Luna will make for a very good duo in the movie.
Ben: I like the idea of the character for sure, we shall have to wait and see if it works well or not.
Lewis: Indeed. So how about the other characters we were introduced to? Forest Whitaker seems pretty excited about the whole affair, and it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches his character, Saw, considering he’s been previously established in the Clone Wars show.
Ben: I do appreciate how the TV series has been incorporated into the film,; if only other well-known franchises would do the same thing… Saw Gerrera is a leader of a more extreme band of rebel isn’t he? It should be a strong performance.
Lewis: Do I sense some bitterness directed towards DC? Yeah, I have high hopes for his portrayal, it’ll be good to see a different side of the Rebellion. And then we have the pilot whose name escapes me…
Ben: It might be… bloody DC.
Yeah we get to see the broad spectrum of the factions fighting against the Empire. The pilot’s name is Bhodi Rook, who has flown for the Empire but “only to pay the bills”, as Riz Ahmed said (paraphrased), “loads of people work for big organisation but don’t agree with everything they do.” I like Riz Ahmed, he was really good in Nightcrawler.
Lewis: I haven’t seen any of his work before but he came across really well on stage, seems like a funny guy.
Ben: You should definitely check out Nightcrawler.
Lewis: Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. So how about Chirrut and Baze, Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang respectively?
Ben: Er to be honest I can’t remember much about either of them. Only that Chirrut is blind and may, or may not, be force sensitive and Baze, well, Baze has a big gun.
Lewis: Baze has a big gun and a pocket full of spoilers… Well they’re a duo who (presumably) have worked together for a very long time against the Empire, and they have very different views on life and the force. Chirrut apparently sees with his heart rather than his eyes, which heavily implies that he is force sensitive but not a trained Jedi, and Baze doesn’t believe in all that mumbo-jumbo but fights beside his friend anyway. Basically though, Wen Jiang unintentionally revealed quite a big spoiler due to his limited English, and everyone felt really bad for him… Jump ahead to the next big SPOILER text to skip this section-
but he essentially told the audience that Yen’s character dies at some point and his death inspires Baze to “do something better”
Ben: Well covered, shall we move swiftly on? Mads next?
Lewis: Yeah let’s move onto Mads, although there isn’t exactly much we can say about him…
Ben: Well it was confirmed he is Jyn’s father and that he made something beautiful, but you’re right, after the Wen-spoiler things were kept pretty brief.
Lewis: Indeed, and the comment he made about making something beautiful says to me that he created a piece of technology that was designed to be used for a peaceful purpose, maybe an energy source or perhaps even the Kaiber crystal that is supposed to power the laser, but the Empire either tricked him into making it or stole it from him. The image they showed of his character certainly makes it look like he was on the run or something.
Ben: He did look a bit rough, didn’t he? Yeah, the “beautiful” thing he designed definitely has a part to play in the functionality of the Death Star; might be going out on a limb here but I have a feeling he might die. From what we have seen he isn’t particularly important to the plot which is what makes me think that he won’t survive.
Lewis: I could get behind that, and it would certainly more than motivate Jyn. Then I suppose the final characters we need to talk about are the two villains of the film?
Ben: We’ll see in December if I am right. Bendelson made a brief appearance in his Krenic get up before returning to the stage in a fancy suit while keeping pretty quiet about his character. The only thing he said was that he wasn’t like other Imperial Officers.
Lewis: I think that implied quite a lot though. I mean, apart from Tarkin and Piet, the majority of Imperial officers are completely incompetent and so far all of them have been incredibly stuck up their own arses. I reckon he’s going to be very clever, ruthless, but also more grounded than the others.
He looks very cool in his costume too.
Ben: Even Piet, to a certain degree, was awful at his job, he just managed to pass the blame. General Veers had a good track record though. So we can expect more of an Admiral Thrawn than an Admiral Ozzel then?
Lewis: That’s the impression I got anyway, and, even though Thrawn is now in Rebels, I think they intended this character to bring aspects of Thrawn to the big screen in a way that doesn’t necessarily affect anything else. So, as well as the cast getting a chance to talk about their characters we were also shown a behind-the-scenes clip (much like the Force Awakens one they released last year), as well as another teaser trailer that revealed a few more scenes, including a confirmation that our favourite asthmatic villain will be popping up at some point…
Ben: We should have saved Thrawn for the Rebels write up, we’ve given away one of the two big reveals from that panel. As for the clips I liked the behind the scenes stuff; it got me more excited about the film than the trailer with Vader did.
Lewis: I’m sure everybody knows that by now Ben- at least everyone who’s nerdy enough to be reading this anyway. I think if we’d been shown the trailer first and then the behind the scenes video I would’ve loved the teaser, but after being shown the “sizzle” reel three times I was quickly losing interest. Everything looked very good though, and there was actually a lot of detail revealed for the people who were looking for it.
Ben: Hmm I suppose that is true. To be honest I have completely forgotten the teaser trailer, all I can really remember is the Vader breathing at the end.
(Unfortunately the teaser trailer we were shown has not been released publicly just yet, but here’s the behind-the-scenes reel we were shown)
Lewis: I think that was definitely the stand-out moment. They also confirmed that he would indeed be voiced by James Earl Jones, which is kinda a given at this point, but it was still nice to hear the confirmation. I’m very excited to see what kind of a role he’ll be playing in the film.
Ben: As expected; I’m not sure what they would do without James Earl Jones. Yes, he can’t really be the main villain because he would end up standing on Krenic’s toes… perhaps he will take a role similar to the one he took in A New Hope while on the Death Star, standing by the shoulder of an Imperial officer like Tarkin.
Lewis: I reckon you’re right on that one. I kinda hope they come face to face with him though, that’d be a very interesting confrontation. So apart from that, is there anything else you can think of that they rolled out?
Ben: Maybe that is how Mads dies…
I don’t think so, that just about covers it I reckon.
Lewis: All in all, it was a pretty good panel apart from the technical difficulties and a little too much enthusiasm from Gwendoline Christie. And I have to say I’m pretty damn excited for this film.
Ben: Yeah, and we also got a copy of the kickass new poster they revealed. I am definitely more excited now than I was before; the first trailer left me a little ‘meh’ but I am looking forward to December now.
Lewis: Indeed, not long to wait…