I was an avid sequel defender until The Rise of Skywalker came out, but since then my opinion of them has become more negative.
There are people who love The Force Awakens but thought TLJ took the trilogy off the rails, and some - like me, for a while - loved the first two but thought TROS was a terrible end to the trilogy, particularly what had been set up in TLJ. I now believe this trilogy was somewhat doomed from the start. TFA doesn’t take any logical next story step, it attempts to recreate the original trilogy for a new generation. Fair enough, especially after prequel backlash, and Disney attempted to recreate the production of the original movies somewhat by not planning an overarching story and let each new director build off the work of the last. But while I find The Force Awakens enjoyable and well-made, it sets the trilogy on a path to just repeating the story of the OT.
With The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson tried very hard to get the story off those rails, but The Rise of Skywalker wastes no time in putting it right back on them. For example, in TLJ Rian wanted Kylo to murder Snoke, his master in the dark-side, to let him progress in an interesting direction and remove the familiar master-apprentice dynamic. The opening of TROS shows him discovering Palpatine and receiving orders once again. In TLJ Rey finds out she was never loved by her parents, and she’s forced to accept that heritage isn’t the reason she finds herself at the centre of the story. In TROS, well, suddenly heritage is important again. While the prequel movies may be flawed in execution, they were never as inconsistent as this. I also find the First Order as villains disappointing and unoriginal, I find a lack of resolution to Finn’s arc in TROS disappointing, and to me Palpatine’s depiction in TROS is, while disturbing, moronic.
There are, however, many great elements in the sequels. I love Kylo Ren in TFA and TLJ. I mostly love Luke’s arc in TLJ and enjoy his relationship with Rey. I find the Force bond concept for Rey and Kylo really interesting and creative. The sequels gave us familiar icons of the franchise but with state-of-the-art visual and sound effects - I’m still blown away by the sounds of Kylo’s lightsaber and the ending lightsaber duel in TFA - and brought back puppetry work for characters like Yoda and Babu Frik. Most of all, watching TFA in the cinema in 2015 was such an amazing experience for me on a personal level: the 501st legion were there dressed as stormtroopers, imperial officers etc, the excitement for the movie was palpable, I had front row seats and it was actually my first time seeing a Star Wars movie in the cinema. If I ever meet JJ Abrams that will be the first thing I thank him for (and I won’t bring up The Rise of Skywalker…)
It’s also touching to see, despite much negative reception, how many fans online unashamedly love all three movies and now are expressing that love more and more.