It took George Lucas 21 years, but he’s finally using the word ”revenge” in a movie title. ”Revenge of the Jedi” was only an early dummy title for 1983’s ”Return of the Jedi,” but ”Star Wars: Episode III,” due May 19, 2005, is really and truly named ”Revenge of the Sith.” (Look for the T-shirt on a geek near you.) Even as Lucas and untold hundreds of digital animators continue to tweak ”Episode III,” a surprising number of details have slipped out, thanks largely to Lucasfilm disclosures on Starwars.com, and less official leaks on fansites such as theforce.net. So hold onto your Jar Jar Binks action figure as we recap what’s known so far (other than the fact that someone will definitely call Padmé ”m’lady”):
Chewbacca’s back-a! Growl! Peter Mayhew, who played Han Solo’s fuzzy pal in the original trilogy, will be sweating it out in the hairier-than-Robin-Williams costume again in ”Episode III.” He’ll have company — at least one sequence will be set on Chewie’s home planet, Kashyyyk. But don’t fear a reprise of the infamously dreadful ”Star Wars Holiday Special,” which showed scenes of domestic life on Kashyyyk (including, believe it or not, a sexy Wookiee TV show). ”Revenge of the Sith” will instead depict Wookiees at war, complete with hirsute soldiers commanding battleships. It’s far from clear, though, how we’ll recognize Chewbacca among thousands of his brethren, especially since Chewie’s name roughly translates to ”raaaargh” in Wookiee-speak.
Space battle After the traditional opening scroll (e.g., ”It’s been quite a rough week for the Republic?.”), ”Episode III” will plunge directly into a lasers-a-flyin’ spaceship battle, the kind that’s been largely missing from the prequels. The conflict ? between Republic forces (the good guys) and the Separatists (as led by Count Dooku, remember?) — will apparently mark the end of the storied Clone Wars, which largely took place between ”Episode II” and ”Episode III” (and in an ongoing Cartoon Network miniseries). It will go on for 20 minutes, which, the Force willing, means a long stretch where we get to listen to stuff blowing up instead of Lucas-penned dialogue (”I don’t like sand.”).
The new bad guy Meet General Grievous: half-alien, half-robot, and all Toys ‘R Us bestseller. Grievous, who looks like the offspring of Skeletor and one of Will Smith’s ”I, Robot” nemeses, is the Donald Rumsfeld of the Separatist forces. The aptly named, many-limbed Grievous is capable of attacking with as many as four lightsabers at once, all taken off the corpses of fallen Jedi. And unlike the near-mute Darth Maul, the all-CGI Grevious will actually talk. (Lucasfilm wouldn’t comment on reports that Gary Oldman is in negotiations to do the honors.)
Jedi vs. Jedi Like the other five ”Star Wars” movies, ”Revenge of the Sith” will include a lightsaber fight. But this time, it’s Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) throwing down against his former mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) — and it’ll get messy. Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard claimed on Starwars.com that at 12 minutes, the sequence will be ”the longest fight scene in cinematic history.” (Didn’t he see ”Kill Bill”?) And we already know the ending: Anakin loses. According to ”Star Wars” lore that the new film may or may not follow, the young Jedi-gone-wild will fall into a volcano, which leads to?
Vader Volcano or not, Anakin comes out of his duel with Obi-Wan gravely injured: mutilated, if not actually dead. Saving him will require a fitting for a familiar black suit, mask, and breathing apparatus, which means his journey to the dark side will be complete. It also means James Earl Jones will finally get some voiceover work.
What do you most want to see in the next ”Star Wars” movie?