It would be an understatement to say this panel pushed every possible long-term fan button and delivered surprises galore. It was one of those things that was almost as exciting to watch from home online as it was to be there in person. At least until the streaming started hiccuping around toward the end. Maybe when you figure you didn’t have to pay to get in, book a flight and hotel, or sleep on the sidewalk for three days, it wasn’t a bad tradeoff. It sucks more to have done all that and STILL not make it inside.
* THE MAKER!!!!! I figured there was a good chance Lucas would show up and show up he did in his trademark checked shirt and jeans. He stayed for the entire program. My favorite thing he said was SW at its core was a film made for 12-year-olds. Sadly he did not say he was coming out of retirement.
*Warwick Davis…he’s always been funny and charming. Nice job MC’ing.
*Dave Filoni…the master reunites with the apprentice.
* The Dark Side Rockstars. Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen appeared to chat about their involvement in the prequel era with George Lucas to big cheers. Who knew the Emperor had such a great sense of humor? This was Hayden’s first con appearance since Celebration II in 2002 and he said it was great to be back. They mentioned the opera house scene had one of if not the longest stretch of dialogue in the entire saga. Ian praised Hayden and Ewan’s work on the lightsaber duel from ROTS and thought they should’ve done a roadshow demonstrating their fighting skill. Hayden talked about how hard it was to film without making the lightsaber noises.
*The OT reunion minus the alumni who have left us, which was kind of sad. Which leads us to…
*The long and touching tribute to Carrie Fisher. I know this sounds super hokey and I’m not the Long Island Medium, but it really felt like she was there in spirit among her fans, friends, family, and former co-stars. This included some first glimpes of Leia in TLJ.
*Thank God on the livestream we were spared the pre-show hype man.
*JOHN FREAKIN’ WILLIAMS!!! His first Celebration appearance ever with a local orchestra for a great closing program of music, at first in tribute to Fisher then to SW in general.
*HARRISON FORD!!! Also his first Celebration appearance, with many plane jokes to go around. I have to say this was the most coherent I’ve ever seen Ford in a live interview; he usually seems drunk or really nervous. Here he seemed relaxed, present, and genuinely happy to be there. He expressed his gratitude to Lucas and to the fans.
*Video howdys from Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson!!! Neeson sent his regrets from the set of something he’s shooting in the Canadian rockies and looked a little beat up. He joked that it was about Jar Jar going to the dark side. He spoke of how honored he was to play Qui-Gon. Jackson kicked off his Bring Back Mace Windu campaign by mentioning how many other characters have been killed only to return stronger than ever with cybernetics.
*Billie Lourd!!! I was so ticked off when the streaming went wonky just after her speech started. Since this was her first public appearance since her mother’s and grandmother’s deaths, I imagine every celebrity news and gossip site jumped on the feed immediately. I’ve read/seen bits and pieces of her speech, where she capped it off by reciting from memory Leia’s your my only hope part from ANH. The Leia-inspired dress she wore was custom-designed by Tom Ford. Because I care about stuff like that.
*No Disney kids? I kind of thought this would be a crash-bang journey through all four decades of SW-ness with some of the ST or Rogue One cast dropping by but I guess with a panel tomorrow and a separate RO panel with Forest Whittaker and Felicity Jones, it would be kind of redundant. This panel was about George Lucas’s classic SW (PT, OT, a little bit of Clone Wars).
*The flow of the panel felt a little disjointed until they got to the Fisher tribute. I can’t put my finger on why.
*The streaming going wonky at one of the panel’s emotional highlights. Your service sucks, Verizon! It’s really going to be a nightmare tomorrow with the TLJ panel.
*Hey, Kenny Baker passed too. Remember him?
*While I’m glad this is the most acknowledgment of the prequels I’ve seen at any Celebration since 2005, what happened to Ewan and Natalie? What, are they training with SEAL Team Six in South Korea as we speak? In all seriousness, I know Ewan is filming “Fargo” and Natalie is the very tired mom of two including a newborn daughter. But they couldn’t drop a quick hello on Skype?