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ISSUE 118 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/13/2005

Star Wars enthusiast ready for final film

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, May 13, 2005

On May 19, a journey almost 30 years in the making will come to an end.

The “Star Wars” universe has enchanted millions of moviegoers since the release of “Episode IV: A New Hope” in 1977, and the series’ original trilogy (including 1980’s “Empire Strikes Back” and 1983’s “Return of the Jedi”) occupies a unique place in American popular culture. Creator George Lucas returned to that galaxy “far, far away” in 1999 and 2002 with the releases of “Star Wars” prequels “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” each of which garnered little critical acclaim but struck gold at the box office.

When the final installment in Lucas’ six-part saga, “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” hits theaters next weekend, it will be a time of both jubilation and sadness for fans everywhere.

“It is a little depressing to think that this is the last ‘Star Wars’ movie ever,” says self-described “major ‘Star Wars’ fan” Erik Martz ’07.

The story of “Revenge” is one that anyone familiar with “Star Wars” already knows. Rumored to be the darkest of the entire series, the film chronicles the inevitable descent of Anakin Skywalker into darkness as he becomes one of cinema’s most recognizable villans, Darth Vader. However, the fact that the film’s basic plot and ending is widely-known has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of fans like Martz.

“I am looking forward to seeing how the whole story unfolds,” Martz said. “It will be interesting to see what sort of plot twists there are, and how they show the final battle [between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi].”

Despite the fact that the two most recent “Star Wars” films were labeled critical duds by the media (many critics complained of subpar dialogue and acting performances), high hopes abound for the third installment to redeem its two predecessors.

“I think ‘Revenge of the Sith’ will justify many things from ‘Episode I’ and ‘ Episode II,’” Martz said. “Lucas had [‘Episode III’] in mind ever since he wrote the originals, but he had some trouble creating the backstory for it. The plot for ‘Episode III’ is much more straightforward, which makes it similar to the originals.”

As May 19 approaches, hype has been slowly building for this final “Star Wars” installment. Ticket sales for midnight showings at local theaters have been brisk, as many St. Olaf students plan to dismiss conventional logic (and next-day final exam concerns) to see the movie as early as possible.

“The atmosphere at the midnight showings is amazing,” said Martz, who saw “Clones” at midnight in 2002. “People were lined up outside the theater, some of them even battling with [replica] light sabers. During the actual movie, the crowd would break out into applause during the best moments….It’s incredibly nerdy, but still so much fun.”

“Revenge” is most likely the final cinematic entry in the “Star Wars” saga, due to Lucas’ rejection of rumors concerning the release of Episodes “VII” through “IX” later this decade. However, production is already underway on both live-action and animated “Star Wars” television shows, which will supposedly attempt to bridge the 19-year chronological gap between Episodes “III” and “IV.” Little is known of either project, but rumors persist that Lucas himself will direct the first episode of the live-action series.

Yet for the vast majority of moviegoers, May 19 will mark the end of arguably the greatest cinematic story of all time. Audiences will finally witness what events created the mask-wearing, heavy-breathing “master of evil” who began terrorizing audiences almost 30 years ago. We have known the eventual outcome of the prequel trilogy ever since it began. However, as the end draws near, one can’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia: soon, that galaxy far, far away will close its doors forever.

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