First 'Star Wars: Episode II' trailer released
By Jamie Allen
(CNN) -- The premiere of "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" is more than six months away, but fans are getting a brief first look at the latest film in the wildly popular George Lucas series.
A trailer of the upcoming 2002 release -- about 45 seconds long -- was released to media outlets Monday. The trailer also was shown to movie audiences who went to see the Pixar animated film "Monsters, Inc." over the weekend.
Though an official plot is being kept under wraps, the second film in the three-part prequel to the original "Star Wars" series is expected to follow Anakin Skywalker as he succumbs to the dark side of "the force" and eventually transforms into Darth Vader.
The trailer features the trademark sinister breathing of Darth Vader, set against images from "Episode II," including plenty of digital wizardry and battle scenes. It ends with the clashing of light sabers.
"Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" comes out May 22. But fans aren't waiting to offer their opinions. A visit to starwars.com -- the "official" fan site for everything "Star Wars" -- reveals plenty of message-board reviews of the trailer.
Some fans say they shelled out cash just to see the preview at a "Monsters, Inc." showing, then left before the "Monsters" main attraction (which, by the way, led box-office receipts over the weekend, raking in $63.5 million).
"I paid $5, saw the very cool trailer with my friends and then walked out," said a message board poster with the handle "levon root."
Although there seems to be a difference of opinion in the merits of the trailer -- some called it "awesome," others expressed disappointment -- there was some consensus on a few issues:
-- It was "dark" in style, according to at least two posters.
-- It wasn't long enough to satisfy hungry fans.
-- Natalie Portman, who stars as Queen Amidala, looked "hot."
Some were moved by more than just Portman's beauty.
"It was freakin' awesome!!!!" posted jacenggf.
Others said that Lucas, the creator of the movie series, should have offered more on the subject of plot development.
"It is pretty much designed to say, 'Don't forget that "Episode II" comes out in six months!' It is not meant to reveal plot points, particular characters, or even music," posted etv666.
Others, such as poster JorelKaster, had mixed emotions: "I need to see more. It's like I am starving for a feast and I get thrown a bone, but what a bone it was."
The "Star Wars" series is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. The first "Star Wars" came out 1977, wowing audiences with its special effects and adventurous plot that pitted space-traveling knights engaging in an ultimate fight between good and evil.
It has taken in more than $1 billion in box office and rental receipts worldwide.
"The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983) rounded out the first trilogy.
"Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace," the first part of the prequel trilogy, came out in 1999 and, despite poor reviews, has raked in nearly $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts alone.
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