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By Ron Wells | November 16, 1998

As per the OFFICIAL “Star Wars” site, my girlfriend and I went to the UA Coronet theatre, the largest single theatre in San Francisco to see the damn trailer in front of “The Siege”. This was smart thinking on the part of Fox, as, why else would anyone go to see it? I had concerns as there were no advertisements in the newspaper, but they dissipated as I saw the camera crew at the entrance and George Lucas himself duck in so he could assess crowd reaction. He was not disappointed.
From the moment the “Lucasfilm Ltd.” logo appeared, the crowd was cheering. From the serene, opening shots of (presumably) Naboo, Tatooine, and Coruscant to the action shots from all over, we were glued. As this is one of probably 8 thousand reviews to be posted in the last 24 hours, I’ll stick to the highlights:
– A lot of Japanese influence with Coruscant and the young Queen’s (Natalie Portman) costume and make-up.
– Darth Maul is one incredible looking villian. Dressed all in black, his head is coverend in a demonic red and and black pattern and he fights with a short staff with a light saber at either end.
– There’s a shot of R2D2 and C3PO together where C3PO has no outer shell.
– Jar Jar Binks, the all CGI sidekick looks pretty cool.
– The folks at Kenner will be busy as we see a whole bunch of future action figures and ships.
– Yoda’s still a muppet, but a younger, more cherubic one. (Isn’t he only around 40 years younger than in “Empire” here? He’s supposed to live for centuries so should he look that different?)
– Thankfully, we don’t see much of the actual plot.
So, does it appear to live up to our expectations? Yup. As “Jedi” was an indication Lucas was burned out on the whole thing, he seems to have spent a great deal of time considering why “Star Wars” worked as well as it did. I think he figured it out. “Episode I” feels like “A New Hope”, only on a grander scale. While there are some comic relief CGI characters on display, it doesn’t appear anything like “Jedi: the Muppet Movie”, and while “Empire Strikes Back” is a fine film with more character depth, you can’t get lost in it like the first one. That’s what I see the man in the back of the theater going for, right here. I can’t wait to see it. I hope he went home to the ranch a happy man, tonight. His job is done.

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