''Episode III'' teaser: 5 things we learned
The ending of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith has been no secret since, say, 1977: Anakin Skywalker adopts a basso profundo and a fiberglass helmet and becomes Darth Vader. But judging from the just-released teaser trailer for the May 2005 film (see it exclusively at StarWars.com or moviefone.com), director George Lucas might still have a few surprises up his sleeve.
ECHOES OF 'EPISODE IV' As the saga edges within 20 years or so of the era of the original Star Wars (now known as Star Wars -- Episode IV: A New Hope), more and more pieces are starting to fit together. In the teaser trailer, Luke and Leia's mom-to-be, Padmé (Natalie Portman) wears her hair in that cinnamon-bun style made famous by her daughter (Carrie Fisher) in Episode IV. More intriguingly, there's a shot of faithful droid stalwarts C-3PO and R2-D2 walking the corridors of what appears to be the very same ship they're aboard at the start of Episode IV. And in one very quick cut, we see a spaceship that looks very much like the Rebel Alliance's X-Wing fighters.
THE FINAL FIGHT The novelization of the 1977 Star Wars movie casually mentioned that Anakin Skywalker got Vader-ized after a duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi landed him in a volcano. And 27 years later, we're finally seeing that fight on the long-rumored ''lava planet.'' Skywalker (who now sports yellow ''Sith eyes'' to denote his evil status) chokes his former mentor as he drives a lightsaber toward his head. And we see the aftermath too, as Darth Sidious (apparently a.k.a. the Emperor and/or Chancellor Palpatine) croaks, ''Lord Vader -- rise.'' Someone get the Emperor a cough drop.
NEW ADDITIONS Though the trailer gives us nary a peek at the much-hyped half-robot, half-alien villain named General Grievous, it does reveal some hairy situations on Chewbacca's Wookiee planet, Kashyyyk. We also meet Tion Meddon, a long-faced, gray-skinned alien (from a previously unseen species) who bares his asymmetrical teeth at Obi-Wan. Word has it he's a good guy, however.
SPACE BATTLES For movies called, you know, Star Wars, the last two have been awful light on space battles. That will change in Episode III. The trailer shows some quick-cut glimpses of fast-moving interplanetary warfare, highlighted by two gigantic ships exchanging laser fire. Also spotted: Two fire-fighting ships spraying what looks like water on a burning, damaged freighter. A gambit for that Ladder 49 demographic?
YODA FIGHTS – AGAIN! Yoda whipping out his lightsaber, Old West-style, was the best moment of Episode II, so it's good to see the little green guy preparing for battle once more. Who's he fighting? We don't know, but it's probably not Jar-Jar.