This movie was definitely stupid in a number of areas, though given what Abrams was handed with the Last Jedi - basically leaving no real cliff hangers except good guy rebels need to kill big bad kylo ren, & having to wrap up this massive story in 2 hours - he did what he could. The Palpatine appearance was cool but definitely felt a bit desperate like they felt they just needed to toss him in there to appease the fans. It's definitely super odd that he wasn't even mentioned in the rest of the trilogy then suddenly he's the big bad main villain we need to strive to defeat. And no explanation as to how he survived after Return of the Jedi.
It definitely felt rushed and all over the place at times - almost made up as it went along - though you really could say that about this entire sequel trilogy.
Hmmm, I don't believe I've ever seen someone rank Last Jedi as their #1 before (have seen a few ranked after Empire) but I suppose there's no accounting for taste.. You like what you like. I'm sure many "diehards" would shake their heads at my choice for putting A New Hope over Empire. Or Revenge of the Sith over Return of the Jedi.
To me, while there was plenty of cheese and head scratching moments, at least Rise felt like a Star Wars movie again, rather than some paint-by-numbers super hero film or something. Was fun to see the 3 main heroes just banding together and venturing out to get the job done, embarking on a mission in a number of different settings with escalating action. I liked the return to an emphasis on older characters like C3PO, R2, and Chewie. You could call it "fan service" or whatever but ultimately the point to me is to have fun watching it, which I definitely felt more entertained for far more of the film vs Last Jedi, which I tended to oscillate between boredom, confusion, and just a plain bad feeling overall.
Rise of Skywalker felt more like an adventure (like past SW films) where real events of significance took place, vs Last Jedi's "big ship chases other big ship," oh and we get a rip off of the beginning scene from Empire (it's SALT!) and a pointless insignificant b-plot at casino world. I felt like Rian Johnson mistook randomly "subverting expectations" & hinging on emotional impact (at the expense of logic & sound storytelling) with cool, thought-provoking plots which isn't necessarily the case..
To me Rise was the most enjoyable since Revenge of the Sith but still a major dropoff from that film. While I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again like my top 4 favorites, it was at least interesting to see how everything hashed out and I was partly invested, which is more than I could say about the bottom half of my list.
1. New Hope
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. Return of the Jedi
5. Rise of Skywalker
6. Rogue One
7. Force Awakens
8. Attack of the Clones
10. Last Jedi
11. Phantom Menace