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Six Days To Go!!!

May 13th, 2005

Next Wednesday–or midnight Thursday if you want to be picky–sees the premiere of the allegedly final chapter of the Star Wars film saga, Revenge of the Sith. (“Allegedly,” because even though George Lucas may be sincere in his desire not to make another movie, and powerful enough to stop anyone else from doing so while there’s breath in his body, presumably he does not share Obi-Wan’s ability to influence events from beyond the grave.)

I am in full geek mode, playing the soundtrack album almost daily, while accumulating an ever-mounting pile of candy dispensers, fast-food toys and action figures. I have my tickets to the midnight show at the Lorraine Theater, and in news that will surely shock many, my lovely wife Vicky–who generally dislikes Star Wars and famously cries that “George Lucas is a hack and a ne’er-do-well!”–is coming along for company. (It also gives her an excuse to take Thursday off, which may be the real attraction.)

It’s welcome news that the early reviews have been largely very favorable, though I note that some of those in the second wave are reacting to the first, saying “it’s not as good as you’ve heard.” Whatever; I survived Episodes I and II, and nothing I’ve read makes me believe that it’s any worse.

If nothing else, it appears set to answer most (though not all) of the questions puzzling long-time, would-be Jedi and to bridge the gap between the prequels and the original trilogy. Certainly, John Williams’ musical score suggests that there will be frequent references to the old films, going so far as to include Princess Leia’s theme and an extended version of the Throne Room march from Episode IV. (The latter is perhaps only second to Vader’s signature tune as my favorite Star Wars music.) If the spoilers I’ve read make the final cut of the flick, there may also be a couple of moments that put on a spin on the entire storyline.

Ah, the spoilers. I admit it, I peeked. And peeked again. I’m weak and impatient. While I don’t know the details, I believe that I know the general order of events and doubt that there’ll be any major surprises. No “I am your father” moments for me, though it’s worth pointing out that I was similarly weak back in 1980 when it came to The Empire Strikes Back: glancing at random pages in the novelization, I accidentally landed on Darth Vader’s big revelation! That was a moment I regret to this day, yet it didn’t keep me from the Dark Side yet again. I look at it this way: reading Lord of the Rings didn’t stop me from enjoying Peter Jackson’s trilogy. The devil (or the Sith Lord) is in the details.

I’m determined to have fun during this final, big blast of Star Wars mania. We first-generation children of the Force will never see its like again. It’s great to see the face of Yoda everywhere, and hear little kids ebulliantly shout “Darth Vader!”

That said, some of the TV commercials are perhaps a bit less than reverential. In a Cingular Wireless ad, Chewbacca is doing voice work for cell phone ring tones, but every one of his growls comes out exactly the same, despite the director’s exhortations. It’s a funny spot, particularly the final shot of various Star Wars characters waiting impatiently for their turn at the microphone, but give the “walking carpet” a bit more credit: he was never such a one-note character.

Similarly, Yoda comes off in a somewhat less-than-flattering light in a Diet Pepsi commercial, using the old Jedi Mind Trick to bogart a cheeseburger and fries from another diner patron. Hey, I thought that led to the Dark Side! Fear leads to french fries, french fries lead to suffering, and all that?

Finally, Darth Vader makes his own out-of-character appearance in a Burger King ad. A guy scratches off his game piece to find that he’s won the million dollar grand prize, only to find Vader at his front door, proclaiming “Brandon, I am your father!” Failing in this first attempt, he declares “I am your…uncle! Brandon, wait!”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of the spots, and the Vader one nearly gave me a spit take. I’m not geek enough to suggest that such silliness is sacreligious. I just found it a little odd that the three tie-in commercials I’ve seen incorporating Star Wars characters all have them acting against their nature.

What I don’t find odd is that I’ve yet to see one with a character who originated in the prequels. Guess Jar Jar won’t be snagging someone’s M&Ms.

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