Even when taking into account that AotC and RotS were shot on early digital cameras, and despite the clean art nouveau aesthetic which contrasts with the OT’s rough utilitarian aesthetic, all three PT movies still look and feel like Star Wars.
I get no such feeling from any of the Disney era movies. Rogue One in particular, which takes place shortly before the start of the OT, has all the sets and costumes to fit with the timeline, but the worlds don’t feel as lived in as they did in the OT. The ST desperately tried to ape everything about the OT looks-wise, but something doesn’t feel right about them.
They do. There used to be a great video on YouTube of all six playing at the same time. It’s a shame Disney took it down as it showed how they truly blended together seamlessly and visually as a collective whole.
They also were shot in the same style. The camera work in the Disney films is different and doesn’t fit the established camera work. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi deviated the most but not too much as they were still very much in George’s control.
This video with Rick McCallum addresses a taste of it:
Rogue One funnily enough is the only one I think that comes the closest to getting close to scale. In particular on Jedha. It’s not perfect but there’s at least a sense of scale and distance between places on the world. The Last Jedi maybe with Canto Bight but not fully.
It’s I think because there’s no signs of progression. Everything is designed to give us feelings of we’re watching the Original Trilogy without the sense of scale or understanding why said location was important. That’s why the Lars Homestead at the end of The Rise of Skywalker feels so hollow. It doesn’t understand the contexts of the central characters it connects to. Anakin didn’t like sand, was a slave, and lost his mother on Tatooine. Luke couldn’t wait to leave after his Aunt and Uncle passed away and promised to never return. He only did to rescue Han. Leia was made a slave to Jabba. Why would any of them want to be connected back to Tatooine in the end? For that matter, if the story began anywhere it’s on Naboo. It only ended on Tatooine because of nostalgia in the contexts given. That’s one of the main problems with the Sequel Trilogy. It plays things beat for beat most of the time without understanding the context of why certain things happened as they did to begin with.
The same could be said for the world building. We’ve seen these planets before - Yavin IV and D’Qar. We’ve seen these designs and aesthetics before like with Unkar’s Thugs and the Tusken Raiders. X-Wings and TIE Fighters. There’s no progression and it feels as though the galaxy never changed in the span of thirty years. It feels like there was a stalemate.
The Prequels also had heart and weren’t designed as exercises of remember this or by a committee. They had a singular vision and this was for better or worse depending on who you ask.