Star Wars Celebration, a sort of mini-Comic Con dedicated solely to all things Star Wars, was held in London over the weekend. (There won’t be a Hall H Star Wars presentation this year, and one wonders how long before Disney starts doing this for Marvel, too.) There wasn’t much actual news to come out of the event—we already knew about Alden Ehrenreich and Han Solo—but they did drop a bunch of new images and footage from Rogue One, which may or may not be in trouble. We won’t know how Rogue One turns out till we see it, but the “Celebration Reel” released over the weekend goes a long way to making me feel good about it.
Like they did with A Force Awakens, the reel takes us behind the scenes of the production, with a particular emphasis on all the practical effects being used—I imagine the employees at LucasFilm gather once a week to stand in a circle around a pyre of burning Jar-Jar figurines chanting, “Not George Lucas, not the prequels”. But their ritual Gungan sacrifices must be working, because Rogue One looks fresh and gorgeous and the beach setting, on the new planet Jedah, doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen from Star Wars before. It sort of looks like Stormtroopers vacationing at Sandals, but I’m really into Rogue One being actual universe expansion, and not just a rehashing of previous stories already told.
But don’t worry, there will still be familiar things in Rogue One, including Darth Vader. Someone bootlegged a new trailer—likely to be stuck on either Jason Bourne or Suicide Squad—which has already been pulled down, but it showed Vader in all his returning glory. James Earl Jones is once again providing the voice, which ought to comfort the nostalgia crowd who don’t like new, reimagined things.
I’m holding out hope for Rogue One (no pun intended). I’m a big fan of the director, Gareth Edwards—shove your Godzilla complaints, his version is fantastic- and the story looks like mostly new characters doing mostly new things in a context connected to the original story. A new heroine, a diverse cast, the fantastic capes everyone is wearing, that it looks like a “Star Wars in Bermuda” travelogue—there’s a lot of fun stuff on display already. Here’s hoping Rogue One delivers.