Hype Building for New 'Star Wars' Installment

ByABC News
May 8, 2002, 5:25 PM

May 9 -- Like Yoda, we talk. Waiting are we. For Star Wars.

The hype machine is pumping at full strength for the next installment of Star Wars, and with last weekend's $114 million, record-setting opening of Spider-Man, the bar has been set even higher.

The first lucky fans were treated to a special screening of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones on Tuesday night in New York and other cities around the country. The early reviews ranged from "amazing" and "Oh my God, it's just as good as Spider-Man" to "a good alternate title for this movie would have been Star Wars: Episode II Anakin Skywalker Is a Big, Whiny Pain in the Butt."

The Force will be with the rest of us next Thursday, when the film opens nationally. Overcoming the Phantom Bummer

The last Star Wars flick, The Phantom Menace, may have brought home the box-office bacon, but critics and many fans, surely felt that it fell short of the first three films.

George Lucas seems to have taken some lessons from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and even Gladiator in making this installment. Certainly, fans at the New York screening were cheering at the last half-hour of thrills, though the sappy love scenes drew some heavy sniggers.

More good news: the much-derided Jar Jar Binks gets hardly any screen time, and there's plenty of husband-and-wife android bickering between R2-D2 and C-3P0.

"I thought it was amazing," said one man in New York, who said he grew up watching the original trilogy. "It was so much better than the first one. All the light-saber fights were impressive. Yoda gets in on the action at the end and it was pretty much worth it because of that."

The New, Brooding Anakin

Much of the success of the film will hinge on how audiences accept Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, the young Jedi destined to be tempted by the dark side of The Force and become übervillain Darth Vader.

Anakin's education as a Jedi is nearly complete as the film opens. His fighting skills are renowned, and we'll see him jump out of a ship miles above a city in pursuit of a bounty hunter. But his cocky attitude troubles Yoda and Mace Windu, a Jedi played by Samuel L. Jackson.