As Disney’s new series of Star Wars films continue to polarize casual viewers and diehards alike, even cast members are joining the discussion. Legendary puppeteer Frank Oz – best known to fans as the man behind Yoda – has evidently been fully aware of the controversy surrounding the recent releases and decided to stand up for the new trilogy at a South by Southwest event held at the Austin Convention Center.
“I love the movie,” said Oz, referring to Rian Johnson’s controversial The Last Jedi. “It’s about expectations,” he told IndieWire. “The movie didn’t fill their expectations. But as filmmakers, we’re not here to fulfill people’s expectations.”
The 75-year-old industry veteran’s words echo the sentiments of many among the movie’s outspoken cast and crew members, such as Rey actress Daisy Ridley and Johnson himself. Other personnel have joined the backlash, though, with the most notable among them being Mark Hamill, who’s repeatedly criticized Johnson’s portrayal of his character Luke Skywalker. This public discussion interestingly mirrors the discourse which surrounded George Lucas’ original Star Wars film in 1977. Many presumed it doomed to fail even before release, including Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Alec Guinness.
Though it remains to be seen whether or not detractors will warm up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi as they did with the original, the 2017 film has received an overall favorable reception from audiences and critics. The box office offered a similarly positive response, as the movie enjoyed the seventh-biggest worldwide opening weekend of all-time.
The next film – Solo: A Star Wars Story – fared much worse, however. It’s generally been considered a financial failure and despite a better performance critically, it currently sits at an unspectacular 70% on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, further complicating the series’ public perception.
In any case, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to release this December and will have the last word on Disney’s Sequel Trilogy as well as the franchise’s Skywalker Saga.