Sunday, July 10, 2016

Opinion: Top Five 'Must See' Panels At Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016

By Ciaran Duggan,

In less than a week's time Star Wars: Celebration Europe 2016 will have commenced. By this time next week, many of the attendees will have queued up in an overnight line for the Celebration Stage panels, drinking large amounts of coffee in an attempt to continue to function properly during the day, before receiving the ultimate 'kick' of watching a new Star Wars film trailer. And all this would have taken place on just the first day. Phew! In light of Celebration commencing this week, I have compiled a personalized list of  the top five 'must see' panels at this year's Celebration. I must emphasize that this is my chosen list and not an 'official' list which has been produced by Lucasfilm or Disney. 

5) EA Games (Saturday 16 July, 19:00 - 20:00 GMT)

At number five on my 'top five' list, I have chosen the EA Gaming panel, which will take place on the Saturday. Lucasfilm has made it explicitly clear, posting a whole article on the website about the fact, that there will be a large gaming presence at Celebration this year. Of course, some people have been sceptical that we won't actually learn anything ground-breaking or 'new' about EA Star Wars because the E3 gaming conference (which took place just two weeks ago) is dubbed as the most popular forum for revealing gaming exclusives to a mainstream audience. I understand this fact, however, I am of the mind that there will be some interesting and new insights into EA Star Wars at this panel.

The timing is significant in itself. The panel starts at 19:00 GMT (the latest of all the panels at this year''s celebration), which means that if there is any new exclusives it will reach a mainstream audience back in America at a respectable time of the day. Moreover, I feel that the announcements we received at E3 were very much "all talk, but no substance", so perhaps EA and Lucasfilm were saving themselves for Celebration, as they can talk more about EA Star Wars gaming to the right audience. Hopefully, this panel will shine light on some of the more ambiguous future projects, such as the Respawn game, which Lucasfilm has on the go.

4) Ahsoka's Untold Tales (Friday 15 July, 11:00 - 12:00 GMT)

On a day that Dave Filoni has dubbed "Ahsoka lives day", I feel there's plenty to be excited about with regards to the 'Ahsoka Untold Tales' panel. This panel promises to cater to fans of Ahsoka, as guests will concentrate on exploring the 'untold tales' of Ahsoka's past and future, including her discovery by the Jedi Order and other storylines which would have been explored in future, yet sadly, unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars. Die-hard Clone Wars fans will not want to miss this panel, particularly when we learn of the guests attending.

- Rebels & Clone Wars Executive Producer: Dave Filoni
- Lucasfilm Story Group Member: Pablo Hidalgo
- Actress and Voice of Ahsoka: Ashley Eckstein

Following this panel at 12:30pm, the Star Wars Show will be recording an 'exclusive' episode at Celebration. Their newest installment will centre on Ahsoka Tano, as the regular hosts will be joined by Ashley Eckstein on the Star Wars Show stage. This shows that Ahsoka's presence at Celebration will be pervasive and far-reaching on the Friday and I am sure many Clone Wars fans will not want to miss out on any of this.

3) Star Wars Rebels: Season Three (Saturday 16 June, 16:00 - 18:00 GMT)

As we hit #3 on the 'top five' list I guess it's appropriate that I have chosen Season '3' of Star Wars: Rebels. In a way, it feels like a Rebels panel has been an ongoing tradition at Celebration. Rebels seems to get its due at Celebration, as the show's panel takes centre stage on one of the days at Celebration, usually the Saturday, and this one is no different. 

There are a couple of reasons why fans should be excited about this panel. The Rebels team will be previewing the upcoming season of Star Wars: Rebels, a season which we have heard close to nothing about. This means the panel will provide shocks and surprises, with Dave Filoni disclosing exclusive information about the new season. That brings me onto my second point, which is the star-studded guests who will be attending.

- Rebels Executive Producer: Dave Filoni
- Voice of Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine: Sam Witwer
- Voice of Sabine: Tiya Sircar

Finally, the panel will conclude with a screening of the first two episodes of the new season of Rebels. Celebration attendees will be rewarded with the chance to exclusively watch the first two episodes way ahead of TV viewers inside and outside of the United Kingdom. The last time episodes were aired at Star Wars: Celebration, Darth Vader ended up being the centre piece in an epic 'Siege from Lothal' 40 minute special. Expect big things, if the tone of the new episodes match the tone of the Season Two premiere.

2) Future Filmmakers and Closing Ceremony (Sunday 17 June, 15:00 - 16:30 GMT)

Now we hit #2 on this list. The closing panel is usually a fascinating one because we learn about the new destination for Star Wars: Celebration. Well, we already know the next destination of Star Wars: Celebration, courtesy of Lucasfilm on May the 4th. The next destination will be Orlando and the next celebration will take place in April 2017. Consequently, it may seem that this panel will be a bit of an underwhelming way to end the convention. However, I disagree. Just before the 'Closing Ceremony', we have the compelling 'Future Filmmakers' panel.

The Future Filmmakers panel will feature appearances from Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Episode VIII Director Rian Johnson and the creative minds of the untitled Han Solo movie, Chris Miller and Phil Lord. The panel will be hosted by Pablo Hidalgo (Lucasfilm Story Group Member). The panel itself is only one of only two panels which will be live streamed, which speaks to the fact that this is an important panel and Lucasfilm want to get as many people and media outlets as possible to sit and watch it, both home, abroad in America and beyond. The description of the panel has also stated that there will be some 'surprises' in store for fans.

I believe there will be some fresh insights about both 'Episode VIII' and 'Han Solo' which will be disclosed at this panel. Will there be an announcement of an Episode VIII title? Some new images? An appearance of Alden Ehrenreich? It remains to be seen, as I am in the dark about this as much as every other fan is. Either way, whilst these projects are set for release far into the future, I feel this panel has a lot of potential to reveal some exciting details about the upcoming movies, which is why it is ranked at #2.

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Friday 15 June, 16:00 - 17:00 GMT)

The must see event of Celebration however has to be the Rogue One panel on Friday, featuring appearances from Kathleen Kennedy and Gareth Edwards (Director of Rogue One). I imagine that this will be the panel that people will queue all night for and talking about long after Celebration concludes. So, what can we expect from this panel?

- Concept Art: I anticipate we'll see some early concept art which was created for the film, as we delve into some of the behind the scenes of the upcoming movie
- Cast: Expect Edwards and Kennedy to describe the role of each cast member, giving them a full bio and maybe even introducing one or two of the cast members onto the main stage
- Trailer: It has already been alluded to by many mainstream outlets, most notably ABC, that a new Rogue One trailer is set for release at this panel. The trailer is reported to last for as long as 3 minutes, with tons of new footage expected.

I also believe that we will get our first glimpse of live-action Darth Vader in the film because of EW's recent announcement that he will be in the Rogue One film. It would make complete sense for the marketing team at Lucasfilm to want to push for a 'Vader' tease. I predict this will occur  as the final shot, comparable to the Han "We're Home" moment at the end of the second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That brings a conclusion to my opinion piece. What panels are you most looking forward to watching at Star Wars: Celebration? Do you agree with my list or have I missed something crucial? Let us know in the comments below.

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