The Force Awakens wasn’t super radical, but it didn’t have to be. Their goal was to prove that one, post-buyout Lucasfilm was capable of making movies, and two, that the prequels didn’t kill Star Wars. It was a safer movie to bring people on board to future movies. It looks like it did its job, because most of the criticism made against it is done in retrospect.
The Last Jedi was the radical one, and that was a good thing. Episodes 8 and 9 were the ones that had to pick up the slack story-wise for the sequel trilogy, and the Last Jedi did its part. I really liked its story. It can be a little bit of a “good story, weird execution”, though. The bathos goes way too far in some places. But overall, its story is good.
I think though inevitably because TLJ tried to take Star Wars in a new direction, that was going to turn some people off. Not because they want Star Wars to stagnate, but because when you go in a new direction, that new direction might not be the direction they were wanting it to go in. And you kinda have to respect that.
It’s hard to take some criticisms against TLJ, like how it’s a complete cinematic catastrophe, or how the plot makes zero sense, or that Rian Johnson’s a hack, seriously at all. Because it’s not a catastrophe, the plot’s fine, and you KNOW Rian Johnson’s not a hack.
The Rise of Skywalker I don’t think picked up the slack at all. I think it reacted too hard to criticisms made against TLJ, and it ended up suffering for it. Bringing Palpatine back was dumb and Rey Palpatine was dumb. The plot of the movie is super uninteresting, and the characters have really lost any and all uniqueness they had in the former two sequels, except maybe Kylo Ren.
I think there’s a lot of people who were on board for the first two sequels, but TRoS kind of ruined the trilogy as a whole. That’s fine. But personally I just kind of put a wall between TLJ and TRoS. It’s the sequel duology and the weird bad one that came out afterwards in my mind.
The first two sequels do a lot of work in bringing back the fundamental things that make Star Wars Star Wars that the prequel trilogy threw away, and if they didn’t, I’d probably just consider myself an OT fan instead of a Star Wars fan. They don’t go so far as to outright contradict the prequel trilogy, because Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy are big fans of the prequels, but they fix some of the damage the prequels did.