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Friday, July 15, 2016

'Rogue One' Panel and Sizzle Reel Review

The Rogue One: A Star Wars Story panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe today was a blast, hosted by Captain Phasma herself, Gwendoline Christie, and featuring the film's cast, producers, and director. The panel delivered us a ton of new information as well as multiple new visuals, including the film's official teaser poster: 
The poster showcases one of the film's major action sequences on the tropical world of Scarif: the main group of Rebels charging across a beach to face a squadron of stormtroopers. Flying overhead are several X-Wing fighters (probably the titular Rogue Squadron), and the Death Star itself looms large in the background. The poster confirms that Scarif's proximity to the moon-sized superweapon will make it an important plot point in the film. 

The panel also included a three-minute behind-the-scenes reel with dozens of bits of new footage, much like the footage released at San Diego Comic-Con last year for The Force Awakens


Here's the highlights from the reel: 

  1. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and other Rebel fighters take cover on a fiery battlefield. This shows us that Rogue One will be different from previous Star Wars films with its use of realistic, warlike battles. Instead of just a few heroes running around, we'll see whole armies of soldiers fighting against each other. 
  2. A man stands alone next to a moisture vaporator on a grassy field. We've seen images of Death Troopers patrolling an identical terrain, and based on what we know about Galen Erso (as well as the first image of him revealed during the panel), we can guess that Director Krennic sends his troopers to the Erso farm in order to seize Galen and his valuable knowledge. 
  3. We see director Gareth Edwards with several actors in Mon Calamari costumes. Considering the aquatic species' supporting role in the Rebel Alliance, it's no surprise that they'll appear in the film. One can only hope that Admiral Ackbar himself will turn up.
  4. Jyn hands some kind of canister to a little girl in a marketplace. The panel revealed that this is the planet Jedha, where Force believers like Chirrut Imwe go on pilgrimages. Although Jyn has been shown to be a hardened warrior, we can see that she has a soft spot for little girls in need of some help. Perhaps they remind her of Jyn's own past...
  5. Stormtroopers file into a London Underground station. During the panel, Edwards described how they had only four hours to set up and film this action sequence (between 12 and 4 AM). It appears that this location was appropriately used for a scene in which the Rebels board a hovertrain to escape an Imperial facility.
  6. Director Orson Krennic addresses several officers aboard an Imperial vessel. Krennic may not be the only one delivering intimidating speeches in this scene; the Celebration Europe-exclusive trailer (more on that later) apparently ends with the reflection of Darth Vader on a similarly shiny floor. 
  7. Jyn, Cassian, and other Rebel fighters run through flying sand on the Scarif beach. The rectangular object in Jyn's hand might just be the coveted Death Star plans. That would explain why the Empire is going to such great lengths to destroy them with stormtroopers, Death Troopers and AT-ACT's. 
  8. Several helmeted and clothed faces flash before the screen. Much like with The Force Awakens' BTS reel, this is a look at the bizarre-looking extras in the film. Rogue One may do the same thing and give these characters rich backstories, despite their blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearances. 
  9. Jyn has an intimate moment with Saw Gerrera. Although Saw has repeatedly been described as a Rebel extremist with questionable methods, this shows us that he'll form some kind of bond with Jyn. Maybe he sees something of himself in her; a young delinquent whose rebellious attitude may lead them to cross the line. 
  10. A furry creature cackles and then turns to fire a rifle out of a vehicle. The leaked character details from May identified this guy as Bistan, species and actor unknown. He'll most likely have a small role as a Rebel gunner.
  11. Cassian slams a stormtrooper into a wall. This must take place when Jyn and Cassian disguise themselves as Imperials to infiltrate a facility, like Luke and Han in A New Hope
  12. A huge explosion erupts in front of a facility on Scarif. Based on the climax of the first trailer, we can infer that this fireball is the result of AT-ACT's blasting the Rebels as they attempt to escape the facility with the Death Star plans. 
  13. Krennic and his squadron of Death Troopers approach Galen Erso on a grassy field. And here we have it, folks: the moment that sets the events of Rogue One into motion. Krennic comes to capture Galen and destroy his farm, leaving little Jyn all alone. Jyn sets on a rough path that leads her to form a deal with the Rebel Alliance, while Galen is forced to develop the Death Star.
  14. "May the Force be with us," Jyn says aboard a Rebel landing craft. This is such a pure, simple moment that truly cements this as a Star Wars story. In the context of the film, this undoubtedly takes place before the Rebels land on the beach, Invasion of Normandy-style, for the climactic battle. We know that most of the galaxy has lost faith in the Force since Revenge of the Sith, so this is foreshadowing a new era of rebellion, unity, and most of all, hope. 
A second trailer for Rogue One was shown exclusively to Celebration audiences at the end of the panel. According to Collider's description, it included footage of young Jyn and ended with Darth Vader's breathing and the aforementioned shot of his reflection on the floor. 

One of the highlights of the panel was when Jiang Wen talked about his character, Baze Malbus. In admittedly limited English, Wen described his character's "huge gun" and then his close friendship with Chirrut. 
Wen then dropped a massive spoiler when he seemed to reveal that (*MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*) Chirrut dies in the film, which convinces Baze to "do something better." Although Wen may have simply spoken incorrectly, the reactions of the other panel members – including "I think you've got to leave it right there" from Gwendoline Christie – confirmed that the Chinese star slipped up. 

Thousands of fans witnessed Wen's slip-up in person or over the panel's live-stream on YouTube. Unfortunately, Lucasfilm has since made the live-stream private and neglected to upload the Rogue One panel to the channel, suggesting that they're not keen on YouTubers re-watching the spoiler at the leisure. 
The sizzle reel isn't nearly as exciting as the new trailer that we were all promised, but it still gave us lots of new footage and the description of the Celebration-exclusive trailer alone is enough to gear us up for when it's inevitably released to the general public. What did you think of the sizzle reel? What else are you hoping from Celebration Europe? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

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