TFA was no masterpiece, and as time has gone on I've noticed it more and more. It's really IMO a slightly above average fun blockbuster and not much more. Still, putting it behind Episodes 1 and 2 is quite a stretch. You can try to argue Lucas tried to do something "new and different" and Abrams just coped the fuck out of IV and you might be right, but IMO I and II are executed far too badly for any redemption.
I also seem to recall Armand not feeling that strongly against VII in the past. I remember him ranking things like this before
Star Wars is about a fusion of a myriad of outside sources and concepts, from Ford and Kurosawa to Shakespeare and Marlowe to Campbell, Malory, the Brothers Grimm, documentary footage, Flash Gordon, Herbert, whatever.
When you chuck Lucas in as an influence it implodes upon itself. In the case of this property, I've got more time for ambition, concepts and world building, and no time for anything that offers only a scant sliver of original context. I shouldn't be reminded of another SW film wholesale while watching a different SW film. Themes, motifs, concepts, inversions of scenarios - all fine. But not the broad strokes and movements.
I also loathe the promissory nature of it, which was never a part of how the OT was packaged and is, by extension, a dupe.
The deliberate withholding of information, with the promise that tune into the sequels to find out stuff!
Yes, you did find out stuff in the sequels of the OT, but they were a surprise not an expectation or demand. As such each of those installments is a full meal. TFA is closer to the Marvel strategem which is fine for those throwaway films.
I also really can't stand the way it's directed. At all. Tableaus pls, not the close-up festival that we get.
That it's revitalised interest in the franchise is fine and dandy and I'm happy for people whose buttons it pushes. It's just not for me, never was, never will be.