TFA didn’t feel like a love letter to the OT at all to me, rather like the most expensive fan film ever made.
TLJ is weighed down by the ST’s poor set up (the FO being inexplicably all-conquering and powerful), but still succeeded despite all the things it had going against it.
That’s another problem I have with TFA. Abrams approached the movie like a fan, whereas Johnson approached it like a filmmaker first and foremost.
Since the movie’s release all online discussions feel like an exercise in who can hate the movie more, which why I’m not particularly fond of expressing my love for it as it makes me feel like some sort of extraterrestrial being with a mindset drastically different from others.
That’s funny as I have the exact same thoughts about TLJ (being essentially an officialised fan film due to all the quirky and left field elements that are inconsistent with the Star Wars I know, making it feel like someone’s personal take on Star Wars rather than a direct continuation of the previous film and preceding saga’s style, themes and tone that make it feel like Star Wars).
See, I have the same issues with TFA now as you do but that’s because TLJ failed to provide sufficient or compelling (or any at all) explanations for all the unexplained things occurring in TFA. Additionally due to the disappointment that TLJ was to me and how drastically it departed from what was setup in TFA, TFA as a direct result is now a mediocre to poor movie for me where prior to TLJ it was good to excellent.
But yeah, you shouldn’t feel restricted from discussing the movie and what you like about it. There are many here that enjoy and even love TLJ, you certainly aren’t alone nor in the presence of a majority here that hate the movie. In fact I’m certain I’m part of the minority here on OT.com that actively hate TLJ.
I think the only oddity with your ranking is just how the two ST movies are at polar opposites from each other and that’s what pique’s people’s interest to wonder aloud why 😉