As a child of the 70s, growing up on the original Star Wars (and the phenomena it created- for those who weren't lucky enough, for example, school (yes, SCHOOL,) took us twice on field trips to see Star Wars in the theater,) the original film and trilogy holds a special place in my youth.
And while the prequel trilogy is much (and often rightfully so,) derided, The Force Awakens brought me (New) hope (ha!) That perhaps some of the magic has returned.
And that's really what has been the problem with the saga since Return of the Jedi ended and with each film since. The proper balance of good storytelling with a near childlike magical wonder. The original trilogy, throughout all three films, whether by intent or luck, managed this balance in a way that no other Star Wars film made since can quite capture.
For example, the great and abundant humor throughout the original films was (same word again,) BALANCED perfectly. It helped take the edge off of scenes that otherwise may have been too much for younger audiences.
When it came to the prequel trilogy, this humor went from striking a perfect balance to becoming so overbearing that it rarely allowed to appreciate any sort of serious scenes. In fact, the same sort of ham-fisted humor made its way into the serious scenes by (among the MANY flaws,) allowing the largely wooden acting to be just as heavy-handed. It was all too much.
When it comes to Force Awakens, and made worse in films following it, they've reigned in the humor to a perfect balance again, but some of the more serious tones have become overbearing. They've tried to "grow up" the stories to match the ages of many of us that grew up with that original series.
And that's the shame. I, like many of my age group, grew up on Star Wars and we wouldn't have been able to if it weren't for the way the stories had been told: accessible to even the youngest of us.
Watching these new films, myself with a young son much the same age as I was when Star Wars hit; they attempt to make it accessible, but just do not. My son enjoys scenes and characters, but many of the plotlines are simply told in a way that are meant for those of us who WERE kids, but not for those who still ARE kids.
Of the newest three films, Force Awakens is clearly the best. JJ Abrams is a wonderful storyteller who, of the three directors so far, still retains much of the wonder at the big universe he's been granted access to. Rogue One and Last Jedi seem just happy to take what's given and make it more complicated, more *adult* in their stories.
If you're interested in the best of the new films, Force Awakens is the best choice. While it may not be perfect, it's the closest you'll find in reminding you of your first childhood experiences with Star Wars.