A guide to the newest ''Star Wars'' trailer -- What the ''The Phantom Menace'' preview reveals

By Jeff Jensen and Daniel Fierman
December 04, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s been out only a week, and it’s already been analyzed almost as closely as the Zapruder film. The two-minute trailer for Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace has unleashed a barrage of speculation among devotees. Officially, Lucasfilm isn’t confirming or denying much, but we have sorted through all the rumors and reports — and ruined our VCRs with repetitive viewings — to get the latest clues to the Phantom puzzle. Here’s a guide to the trailer and its revelations:

Anakin Skywalker
Played by 11-year-old Jake Lloyd, he’s the waif who’s the central figure of the teaser. The Force-ful son of Shmi Skywalker — the concerned-looking woman portrayed by actress Pernilla August — he will eventually evolve into some guy by the name of Darth Vader.

Qui-Gon Jinn
The lightsaber-wielding Liam Neeson plays the film’s lead Jedi Knight, an even-tempered mentor to Anakin. Qui-Gon discovers the boy on the desert planet Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home world in the first Wars.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ewan McGregor plays the hotheaded young Obi-Wan. The trailer showcases his historic introduction to Anakin but also ominously highlights his concerns about the future Vader: ”The boy is dangerous,” he warns Neeson. ”They all sense it, why can’t you?”

Mace Windu
Played by Samuel L. Jackson, he, along with Yoda (looking particularly spry in the trailer), is a member of the all-powerful Jedi Council. Windu doubts that Anakin is the ”one who will bring balance to the Force.”

Jar Jar
The googly, rabbit-eared guy who sticks his head into the lightning bolts is a digitally created character who provides comic relief as Neeson’s goofball sidekick. His voice will be provided by dancer Ahmed Best (Off Broadway’s Stomp).

The Queen
The regal lass with Kabuki-style makeup is the adolescent monarch of the planet Naboo. (Those cathedral-like structures [above] shown early in the trailer? That’s a city on Naboo.) Played by Natalie Portman, she’s also seen decked out in desert drab asking Neeson: ”Are you sure about this? Trusting our fate to a boy we hardly know?”

The Bad Guys
The badass with the devil face and dual-action lightsaber is said to be Darth Maul, one of the Dark Lords of Sith, a sect adhering to the dark side of the Force. Phantom‘s other major menace is Palpatine, Naboo’s representative to the Republican Senate who reigns as emperor in Return of the Jedi. Played by actor Ian McDiarmid, he’s visible in one fleeting shot.

Battle Droids
The gangly metallic robots snapping into formation are the infantry units of something called the Trade Federation Army. One of the droids is also briefly seen riding a hovering motorcycle-like vehicle called a STAP.

R2-D2/C-3PO
They’re back. Artoo is clearly visible in the trailer, but C-3PO? Presumably, it’s the skeletal robot next to Artoo. How do we know? Who could forget those eyes…?

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