Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Star Wars Celebration Orlando Pre-Talk [Thoughts]



Star Wars Celebration is starting off the party right. The 40th anniversary party for the franchise. That shows in the fact the first panel is called '40 Years of Star Wars', and The Star Wars Show pretty much hyped it up as something big. Hayden Christensen will be returning to Celebration after fifteen years, and a lot of other big names from the franchise will be at the panel. It kicks off the Celebration on Thursday 13th at 11:00 ET [16:00 for those in the UK]. The panel runs for an hour and a half, so this is sure to be something special.


Most other morning panels run for an hour and a half, which must show how much content they have to talk about - even if they aren't showing stuff for most of it. The Last Jedi is highly anticipated for this year, and a trailer will give hints as to what the film will be like. Expect talking with the cast and crew for other tidbits, and maybe even a surprise reveal or two. The panel runs on the 14th, from 11:00-12:30 ET.
TV fans are pretty much catered for, with the Rebels Season 4 sneak peek giving a look at the coming season. The third season ended on a high note, and this next season is certainly going to be introducing a lot of interesting stuff. There could be some good interaction between characters like Saw and Mon Mothma, for instance, if the series decides to play on it. The panel takes place 11:00-12:30 ET on the 15th.
There is the possibility for hints at Season 4 through another panel, however. Dave Filoni: Animated Origins and Unexpected Fates will have Filoni joined by Pablo Hidalgo, discussing those characters that had their start in animated projects, revealing some untold origins of heroes and rogues. They'll also have some rare clips and artwork to show. Now, remembering that The Clone Wars was cancelled before its story could be fully told, we could be getting some interesting reveals at this panel. Last year Filoni revealed a bit about the Siege of Mandalore - actually making Ashley Eckstein cry with the reveal of Rex's 501st troopers having repainted armour to match Ahsoka's look - so could we be seeing more about that story arc? It is quite possibly one of the most important arcs The Clone Wars never aired, tying directly in with Revenge of the Sith, and has been referenced quite a bit in other media since. We will find out on the 13th, at 13:30-14:30 ET.
While I don't follow the series, having a look Behind the Scenes with LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures is sure to give fans a better insight into what the second season will bring. A trailer was recently released for that season, so I expect some of the things within it will be talked about in more detail. The panel will be on the 16th, starting at 11:00 ET and running for an hour.


Quite possibly one of the things I am most interested in is The Galaxywide Premiere of Star Wars Battlefront II. I found the first one to be a good game, and if you were following my content back in 2015 you'll know I played through the Alpha, Beta, and EA Access ten hour early access and found it to be an enjoyable experience. I still find it to be so now, with Walker Assault still being my number one played mode - both through multiplayer and the Skirmish offline mode that was added. If there's one thing I still don't like, it's the lack of single player content. Skirmish mode corrected that somewhat, but only Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron are available to play with only the core content and Jakku maps. The original Battlefront had every map available both online and off, and yes I understand that shooters have changed to mostly be online experiences, but most people have been asking for the equivalent of Instant Action from the older Battlefront's, as well as a Galactic Conquest mode. EA have stated they'll be more focused on the solo play stuff, and this panel should go some way to assure people it's being taken care of. The 15th is the date to watch, at 14:30-15:30 ET.
The one time I have been to Florida was when I was 13, and still being fairly new to Star Wars as a whole. So being on the Star Tours ride was a fun experience, and something I've wanted to do again. If I ever do go to Florida again, I'd want to wait until the Star Wars park is open. Star Wars and Disney Parks: A Galaxy in the Making will look at the creation of Star Tours, and looking ahead to the experiences that will be had when the new Star Wars lands open within Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It should be a good panel, reliving history and making it, and while I have doubts the panel will be streamed, it takes place on the 15th at 16:30-17:30 ET.


Guest panels are a given at an event like this, and there are quite a few of them. Billy Dee Williams, voice of Lando Calrissian, will be one of the first up on the 13th at 13:30 ET for forty-five minutes, and an hour later Ian McDiarmid - our favourite Chancellor/Emperor - will be having a talk. Again for forty-five minutes.
Perhaps the one I am looking forward to most - as I did last year - is Ray Park, who played Darth Maul. Last year was fun, with a re-enactment of his fateful end with members of the audience, and I hope it's not too much to ask for something similar this year as well. Prepare to be Mauled on the 13th at 17:00-18:00 ET.
Warwick Davis has a panel to himself, though being a host of Celebration we'll be seeing plenty of him. This panel is sure to be delightful, as Warwick is always a charming presence, and with fans asking him questions, there's bound to be some tales and some jokes. He'll be hosting Small Talk on the 14th at 13:30-14:30 ET.
Mark Hamill has two panels this year, though one is a tribute to the late Carrie Fisher. At last year's Celebration she was a lively presence, and her passing has been remembered and mourned since December, but at a Celebration about Star Wars, it gives a chance to pay tribute as one. Mark Hamill is also one of the best people to host it, having been one of the main cast members of the Original Trilogy along with Carrie. Watch and remember with fans on the 14th at 17:30-18:30 ET.
Hamill's other panel on the 16th is sure to be more lively, as Hamill Himself is sure to bring his Joker voice with him yet again. It's always fun to see cast members reliving tales of being on set, and just as with The Force Awakens, there will be fans asking about The Last Jedi. The time to tune in is 13:00-14:00 ET.
Of course, we can't forget the most friendly droid to ever grace Celebration - Anthony Daniels. 40 Years of Threepio will bring Anthony Daniels and Warwick Davis together yet again for some wacky antics, sometimes at the expense of the audience, as well as some tales of being a droid. It is 40 years of being known for the iconic droid, after all. The panel is on the 15th at 13:30-14:30 ET.


Scattered throughout the event will be other panels, such as various Rogue One panels looking in depth at various behind-the-scenes stuff. Books, comics, and merchandise will get their time to shine, and screenings of all the films will take place throughout the nights of the event. The Heroines of Star Wars will be celebrated, and exclusive Star Wars Show interviews will be shown on the stream. Celebration events usually also host a lot of other things, including writer panels and blogger showcases. And as ever, rounding off will be the Closing Ceremony on the 16th at 16:00-17:00 ET. A celebration of all things that happened at the Celebration, and possibly even a few surprises as well.

I will be tuned into the streams for most, if not all, of the event. I am expecting plenty of things to be shown, hear plenty of stories, get a few good laughs, and most of all - just have fun. Those at the event and experiencing all this will have even greater memories to cherish, and it is my hope that one day soon I will be able to go to one of these. With Celebration already confirmed to be taking a year off in 2018, that gives two years preparation if I am to experience this myself. I had fun at Summer of Sonic, so four days of being surrounded by Star Wars fans and taking part in Star Wars events, should be equally as fun. If you want to take a look at the schedule, the website is here.

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