I appreciated TFA and, after the release of The Last Jedi, I think I appreciate it more. Although I don't consider the story to be a finely crafted work of art, it certainly had the makings to serve as a launching pad for the remaining episodes in the new trilogy.
The new characters were played well. Rey's background is shrouded in mystery which, for the sake of storytelling, wouldn't have been a smart move to reveal in the opening movie. I like that JJ Abrams kept her story mostly secret as I assumed (incorrectly, it would seem) that this would be picked up on in the following movie. What I didn't appreciate, however, was how Rey suddenly became a Jedi Master with no explanation. Her story went from a well developed and progressing girl (from a character progression perspective) trying to find her new way in the fight to save the galaxy, to being a Master of everything she touches. I hesitate to use the common catchphrase 'Mary Sue' but there's really no other way to put it. Every Force user in the SW saga underwent training. From Anakin/Vader to Luke, to the now Legends characters like Reven and Darth Bane, they all showed a progression in their pursuit of force mastery. All except for Rey. Her defeating Kylo Ren in a duel, a guy who's been training his entire life under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker and Snoke, was a bit of dog and pony show. Having only been the second time she touched a lightsaber and the first time she turned one on (how did she even know how to turn it on?) she showed no signs of fumbling about. From this point on, all the way to the conclusion of The Last Jedi, Rey's character shows no progression at all. She's a master...of everything.
I like the chemistry between Rey and Finn although he seems a bit reckless at times. I also don't know how it's possible to survive being sliced across the back with a lightsaber but what do I know. Although I appreciate his enthusiasm in the story, I ultimately see him as a flat character in the overarching story. As with Rey, Finn has little to no backstory other than being a storm trooper and, given his training as a storm trooper, seems rather undisciplined. You'd except the opposite and possibly a leadership role given his history.
It was great to see Han Solo and Chewy onscreen again. It was equally amazing that Perter Mayhew himself reprised the roll of Chewbacca despite his physical ailments. Although many were upset at Solo's death, I felt that it was inevitable and also a good ending to his character. It was a heroic way to go while attempting to save his son.
The reason behind the three stars was not only because of what I listed above, but also because the storyline was unoriginal. It was a direct copy of the original SW with finding the new character on a desert planet, character discovers force powers, bring in the mentor (Solo), mentor is killed, blow up giant space station, party at the rebel base. I was left unimpressed by the writing of this as I felt they played it too safe. SW has always been about being on the cutting edge with original story, special effects and music. While I feel that two of those feats were met, the story came up short in originality. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, but I would've 'loved' it if they'd tried to be a little more original with it.
Still, I feel it's a good and safe start to the new trilogy, even if Rian Johnson ultimately wrecked everything that JJ Abrams had built up.