I thought it was fine. Going into it, I expected very little after seeing the initial reviews - and the movie managed to surpass those rock bottom expectations. I guess that counts for something. As everyone has noted, it was certainly safe. I don't know who else was asked to direct IX and what story ideas he/she pitched - so it's hard to think about what it could have been. Perhaps Disney should have stuck with George's original idea:
(Link to media)
It boggles the mind that Disney never settled on a 3 movie arc. Not even a basic outline, or the briefest of character bio for any of them.
The text was a hot mess - I read the 18 page outline via Reddit about the reshoots and then there are pieces out now about what was included in the companion book that was kind of relevant. SW has generally had clunky dialogue and I would have been fine with that. But...
Ren/Ben brings up the concept of a Force Dyad during the final battle with zero context. Apparently, Palpatine introduced the topic during the initial confrontation between him and Ren/Ben but that got tossed. I don't particularly care what it is but to leave it in at all seems like an error. Similarly, the ex-Stormtrooper with the tusked horses is meant to be Lando's daughter. In the movie, we're meant to think that based only the fact that they're both black (I mean, I guess?). There were earlier lines from Lando where he talked about how the Empire targeted children of Rebellion leadership during their raids. Also, Lando was with Luke when they went to whatever planet they were on during the celebration and decided to stay put when the trail went cold. And my biggest pet peeve is the damn secret that Finn could only tell Rey. Was it Rey's parentage? Or that Finn is himself force-sensitive? For as often as they talked about this big secret, the movie ended... without anyone talking about it. That, to me, is bad writing in a way that SW usually isn't "bad".
In the end, what bothered me most was outside of the text itself:
That ROS had to so quickly and immediately, and clumsily, too, go out of its way to address every complaint about TLJ was distracting. Snoke was a clone! The "Holdo Maneuver" was a one-in-a-million shot! Actually Leia had some Jedi training! Rey was not a nobody - she was the daughter of people we never heard of and the granddaughter of Palpatine, you know, from the first movies! In addition, every time Finn looked at Rose from across whatever room/field they were in, you could almost see it on his face that he had this feeling of, "I wish I could interact with you, or otherwise bring you along but the internet is racist and hates you so you're going to be sidelined this time around." -- except Boyega wouldn't have that look on his face because he's one of the stars who has been throwing shade at Johnson during the press for ROS. The movie was responding to the reactions to the previous movie rather than just focusing on telling a new story in its own right.
Lastly, if anyone can explain to me what Leia did, I am all ears.Did she will use up all of her life-force to whisper Ben's name to him? Was that the plan? I'm not going to worry about whether or not that was a good plan or if it made sense - I literally couldn't follow along what was supposed to be happening.
Long live Babu Frik and Wedge Antilles, the two best characters in the damn movie. Long live Luke Skywalker, too. I will never in my life call it the Skywalker Saga - it will be Star Wars to me. I hope Disney can make movies in pairs, trilogies or just one-offs that have the confidence of The Mandalorian. Though now it seems more like when Disney bought The Muppets - as soon as they got the IP, they had no idea what to actually do with it.