Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 – Day 3

Today was the third and final day of the Star Wars Celebration Europe event in London, and they really saved the best to last. In the build up to the hugely popular final panel, there was plenty on offer to keep even the most exhausted Star Wars fan happy.

Panel – Carrie Fisher: The Princess Diaries

Trumping even Anthony Daniels on the bizarreness levels, Carrie Fisher (with her equally loving and loved pet dog Gary Fisher) joined Warwick Davis on stage for an hour-long interview. Or so we thought. The real star of the show was Gary, and at times I wasn’t sure which one Warwick was having more time keeping an eye on.

Exhibition – ILM X LAB: Trials on Tatooine

This exhibit was a VR experience that was exactly what it says on the tin. Clearly this technology is in its infancy in terms of how general public will interact with what they see on the headset goggles, but it was a fun way to spend 15 minutes and provided a glimpse of the fun to come.

If someone can work out an affordable way to put it in everyone’s living room they’ll make a lot of money.

Panel – The Future Filmmaker Discussion

Fascinating panel discussion on future Star Wars films

There was so much discussed here that I put it in a separate article. Well, two actually with a third on the way.

Star Wars Episode VIII – What did we learn at SWCE?

Han Solo actor confirmed!

Panel – Closing Ceremony

And with that, Warwick Davis concluded the proceedings and the mad dash to the exit doors commenced. 

For a lifelong Star Wars fan, this weekend was a dream come true and if you can afford it it’s something you should try at least once.

Thank you for reading. May the force be with you.

Star Wars Episode VIII – What did we learn at SWCE?

With a December 2017 release date, the eighth instalment of the main saga might seem a long way away. But as we know from recent experience, these dates can rapidly creep up on us and we’ll be at the midnight screening before you can say “Sans Han Solo”.

The Star Wars Celebration Europe event was very Rogue One-focused and as such there wasn’t a great deal of information handed out. That didn’t deter the legions of fans from repeatedly asking for snippets of information and this meant one or two pointers were revealed.

I’m not going to apologise for spoilers but I will apologise for the speculative nature of the post, especially if I’m wide of the mark. Let me know if I missed anything!

Starting Point

Let’s have a Luke around

The opening scene of the film will take place exactly where we left our heroes, with Rey holding out her lightsaber-wielding hand to Luke and Luke responding with a knowing stare. 

Director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) confirmed the filming took place on Skellig Island off the coast of Ireland over a two day period before any pre-production had taken place.

Presumably the opening line will therefore be Luke saying “I’m sorry, but there was a hand attached to my lightsaber.”

Han’s Funeral?

In Carrie Fisher’s bizarre Princess Diaries panel with Warwick Davis, she misunderstood a question about what had been going on between Han and Leia between Episode VI and VII, answering as if the question was about VII and VIII. 

At this point she seemed to mention Han’s funeral, thus either ruling it completely in or out depending on what she thought the question meant (she was busy with her dog Gary at the time). I initially thought it was a joke but given there’s no time gap between the two films it seems plausible that it would appear.

If there’s a funeral, then surely some of his closest friends would show up. You know, like Lando?

Finn is Awake

John Boyega joked with the various filmmakers in the final panel discussion about the state we left him in VII.

Director Rian Johnson fuelled the joke: “We did at some point think it would be cool to have him in a coma for the whole film… You just keep coming back to him.”

I’m pretty sure he’ll feature quite prominently.

BB-8 will appear!

Not a big surprise but during a segment on the Star Wars Show Live!, Matt Denton and Josh Lee stated that for the Celebration event they “brought along one of the real film versions [of BB-8]… that came straight from filming Episode VIII”. 

So that’s that cleared up then! Phew!

Kelly Marie Tran

Kelly Marie Tran has a key role in Episode VIII

A complete unknown for the new film is Kelly Marie Tran. Her name was mentioned again in the final panel. 

Director Rian Johnson had this to say:

“I’m so excited for you to meet Kelly… In good time. I don’t want to say too much because I want her to come out and present herself properly, down the line. She’s really something special.”

Cinematic reference points

Arguably the most revealing comment was the cinematic reference points mentioned by the director. These included two World War II films: ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ and ‘Twelve O’Clock High’. Both of these films involve tension due to an individual with control/seniority issues and may point to a psychological struggle for one of the characters in VIII.

Also mentioned was Japanese ‘Three Outlaw Samurai’. This was an interesting film to bring up. Hideo Gosha’s 1964 samurai battle film has been reissued and restored by Criterion so can be picked up and enjoyed in its best quality. This film will likely influence the fighting style seen in VIII, with plenty of location shots of samurai battles that would serve as a perfect reference point for some large-scale battles involving teams of Jedi.

Check out the trailer here:

‘Letter Never Sent’ is a Soviet survival drama about a team of geologists being isolated by a forest fire. Perhaps Rey and Luke are isolated together for longer than they planned and Luke is going to show off some Ray Mears survival skills. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched – Johnson stated that they filmed a lot of the film on mainland Ireland after the Skellig island shoot had finished. This would help create a vaster planet than achievable if the shoot remained solely on the small tourist attraction.

The Force Awakens… quite a few questions…

Warning: This article contains spoilers. Reading it will probably ruin the film for you.

The film is out now and the whole world is busy digesting their first viewing, whilst kicking themselves for not buying more tickets earlier now they’ve realised how good it is.

Whilst the film has achieved a lot, it has also left us with a few questions that may not be answered for another 18 months. Here are a selection.

Rey’s History


Rey has abilities never-before-seen by any untrained Jedi. The ability to use mind control, telekinesis and force pushes are usually only achieved by Jedi masters, yet she was able to perform everything with no training whatsoever.

In this case, it does make us wonder who her mother and father are. One guess would be that she is the daughter of Han and Leia – Leia is after all a carrier of Jedi abilities (though has never been seen to use them on screen).

Perhaps instead her father is Luke Skywalker, though this would require an explanation as to who her mother is. Given the final sequence of The Force Awakens, this could be a more feasible option and gives room to develop Luke’s recent history through flashbacks.

I’m foreseeing the line “Now the circle is a figure of eight.” Or something.

Where did this guy go?


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Constable Zuvio Ph: Elena Dorfman © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Constable Zuvio has a very sinister look about him. In the pre-release press he was a reasonably prominent character, and was most recently featured in a large Empire Magazine article about the new film. There was also an action figure released when there wasn’t really many characters to get your hands on.

In the article, Empire reported that LucasFilm described him as a “vigilant law officer on a mostly lawless world” and a man who “keeps order in a frontier trading post”.

Well, his story obviously wasn’t important enough to warrant avoiding the cutting-room floor. I fully expect to learn about his whereabouts when the Blu-ray is released as his is inevitably going to be one of the deleted scenes, probably around the same time as the alleged Chewbacca arms-ripped-from-sockets scene that made the novelization but not the film.

What happened to make Leia and Han lose touch?


One of the most unexpected elements of the film was when Han and Leia were reunited after a seemingly long time. They passed some comments that seemed to suggest there was some history between them. Furthermore, when the final battle had finished and the remaining team returned, Chewbacca and Leia didn’t seem to even acknowledge each other. That seemed a little strange. Clearly something has happened beyond the fallout from the unexpected turnout of their son Ben, and I’m not buying that Han was just wanting to keep “doing what he did best”. I wonder whether this will be explored in future films or left as it is.

How much of Episode VIII has been filmed?

There were clearly some shots in the trailers that weren’t used in the film and whole characters that were taken out. Given the final scene left Luke with Rey on a distant island, it would seem like a bit of a waste to get everyone over there just for 30 seconds of film. This makes me wonder if they’ve also filmed the opening sequences of the next film.

Why was Captain Phasma so underused?


Captain Phasmastic

This may be the same reason as Constable Zuvio, but Gwendeline Christie seemed criminally underused when she was so featured in the run up to the film and the press. Perhaps it was due to filming conflicts between The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones, but I’m hoping we either learn her backstory through future installments or perhaps a comic book series. It just seemed really unusual when she’s done so much promo for it and was limited to just a handful of appearances.

Why was C-3PO’s arm red?

Maybe it was explained at some point but I don’t recall when. Seemed a little pointless.

The full review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here.