Star Wars Celebration 2019 took place in Chicago on April 11th through the 15th.
As has been the case for the past 10 years, the event gathers fans from all over the world in one place to discuss, see, purchase, and just plain love anything and everything that is the Star Wars franchise. Including the European and Japanese events, there have been 13 Star Wars Celebrations to date.
While I have never been able to attend myself, I am there in spirit. In spite of my feelings about The Last Jedi and some other elements of the Post-Disney acquisition films, I am still someone who just freaking loves Star Wars.
According to what I heard and saw coming out of Celebration this year, there is a lot to love.
After the disappointment that was Episode VIII, I wasn't sure how excited I would be for Episode IX. I mean, it would be impossible for me not to be at least curious but real excitement was not guaranteed. Then I saw the trailer...
The thing is, no Star Wars trailer is going to be bad. These are professional movie making people who are good at creating exciting trailers. No trailer so far has been unexciting but clearly a great trailer doesn't guarantee a great movie (this is true of all trailers for all movies).
This trailer did something a bit different from its predecessors though. It wasn't exciting so much as interesting and interesting is exactly what it needed to be to catch me. Following the film that snuffed out further development of some characters, eliminated reveals, and killed off legends, I wasn't sure there would be anything to make me say, "Boy oh boy, I can't wait to see this next one". I mean I really need to know what...um...who...er...I can wait.
Now, well check out the trailer if you haven't already. The Rise of Skywalker looks really intriguing. What the heck is Rey doing with that TIE Fighter? Is that a piece of The Death Star?!? That laugh...What's up with that laugh?!?
Well played Star Wars. Well played.
But that's not all...not by a long shot. There is also...
Even more than the next film, I am waiting with bated breath for the upcoming streaming series, The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian is something we've never seen before. It is a live-action TV series set in the Star Wars universe, featuring a character we don't yet know, in a time period we've not yet visited in film or animation. At the same time, it's all familiar.
We know the greater universe setting because we've seen it before and we love it. The Mandalorian looks like Boba Fett, who we know, because Boba Fett is a Mandalorian. The design, the feel, the atmosphere; it's all just like it's always been in our imaginations for decades.
I can hardly wait to see this series. Oh yes, one last point, it is indeed a series and in my personal opinion I think that will benefit the concept and the fans. Instead of a movie which must introduce you to a bunch of characters, get you to care about them, deliver a plot, action, and a satisfying conclusion in a relatively limited period of time, a streaming series allows the people behind The Mandalorian (and we are talking about some very talented people) the time to truly flesh out all the elements and deliver a more thoroughly engaging product.
Speaking of a series that delivers...
The incredible Clone Wars CGI animated series, which ran 6 seasons before being cancelled due to...um...I have no idea...corporate stupidity I assume...will be returning on Disney's Disney+ streaming service (the same home as the aforementioned Mandalorian series) with a full 12 episode Season 7.
This makes me very happy. I am a huge fan of this series and it honestly somewhat makes up for the weak Prequel Trilogy. More so than that however is that it stands on it's own as an incredibly well done depiction of the Star Wars universe. It covers many elements beyond the Fairy-Tale-with-Spaceships theme (which for me is what Star Wars is really about) and yet it doesn't lose that aspect in favor of going too dark, too gritty, or too 'realistic'. I suppose one could say it is just dark, gritty, and realistic enough for a Star Wars story.
I am seriously excited. Plus, more Ahsoka Tano! You can never have enough Ahsoka.
There are certainly other interesting things happening in the world of Star Wars that I could talk about - from the Galaxy's Edge additions to the Walt Disney Theme Parks to the upcoming video game Fallen Order - but I am going to stop here for now as I've other subjects to get to.
I tried to start a new Star Wars campaign a few months back but sadly I lost interest in it rather quickly. I thought some of the PCs and ideas were cool but my enthusiasm waned and never really built back up. Part of this was do to the common adult gamer problem of scheduling issues but if I'm being honest I might have tried harder to make it work if I was really into the campaign.
Maybe with some of the these new and revived projects coming out, my zest for running Star Wars again will also return. That's my hope anyway. It isn't A New Hope but at least there is a chance of a Return of The Jedi.
See that? See what I did there?
On a final sad note...
Peter Mayhew, the gentle giant of a man who portrayed Chewbacca throughout many incarnations of the Star Wars franchise, passed away of a heart attack at the age of 74 on April 30th of this year.
Mayhew took the character of Chewbacca and made him not only a part of the team but a part of the film's family and our own families as well. The character couldn't speak English and the costume did not allow for much facial expression, but somehow Mayhew emoted. A tilt of the head, great body language, and a well place growl told us all we needed to know about Chewie.
As a kid, Chewie was my favorite Star Wars character. Like Mr. Spock in Star Trek, Chewbacca was an alien hero fighting along side the Human heroes and treated as one of their own. This is an idea I find endlessly pleasing.
Mayhew played the character not only in films and television appearances but at charity events for hospitals and other such venues. He wrote two children's books using his own experiences as an unusually tall individual to address bullying and being different.
Rest in Peace Good Sir. No one is really gone as long as we remember them.