That's right, I've finally gotten around to writing a review of the franchise. The one thing virtually everybody agrees is good (besides Lord of the Rings I guess). As with most things, everybody is wrong. Here's a list of major flaws:
The morality. This is a very broad criticism that has a lot of facets. For one thing, the badguys are all strawman chaotic evil, and the goodguys aren't even that good. They're lawful neutral at best (I argue that point in a separate article). Now a flawed goodguy is normally a fine thing, but only when they're portrayed to be flawed. The Jedi are portrayed to be essentially perfect in the canon films. Not to mention it's statist, but that's to be expected. The intense black-and-white framing with no grey is also unfortunate.
The force is a fluffy magic system. This problem shows itself in many ways, so I'll just give one example: why can't Jedi fly? We know they have self-telekinesis.
A moderate case of sexism during the original and prequel trilogies. I bet Lucas thought he was being so egalitarian by including a female main character in both trilogies. It's not very impressive when neither of them are Jedi, and Padme exists purely to support Anakin's arc. As for Leia, honestly I feel like you could just take her out of the original trilogy and the story would be much the same. And although the sequels seem to be doing away with this problem, after seeing how Episode 8 went I'm a little worried that we're going to end up with the exact opposite problem: Rey and Leia against Kylo. It doesn't help that Rey is the most overpowered hero Star Wars has ever seen and Kylo is a total wuss.
Now I'll do some movie-specific criticisms.
Episode IV: A New Hope
Obi-Wan is clearly still a capable Jedi. He has no excuse to be living as a hermit on some obscure planet when he could be helping the rebellion. Even if he's too old to be a great frontline warrior (which isn't a legitimate excuse in a franchise containing Count Dooku), he could still be helping. He could be using the mind tricks we know he can do to persuade stormtroopers to desert, maybe, or using his force senses to act as a sort of superpowered scout, at the very least.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
In this installment, we meet Yoda. Copy-paste my criticism of Obi-Wan.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Please retcon the Ewoks and everything about them out of existence. They're little teddy bears who take down high-tech armed and armored soldiers with sticks and spears. It just makes the stormtroopers even more of a joke than they already were. Far more importantly, the scene where the Ewoks capture and incarcerate the heroes - and even plan to eat Han! - and are still portrayed as goodguys. They must have known the heroes were people. There's no defending it. The Ewoks are evil.
When Luke throws down his lightsaber instead of killing Vader in order to "not turn to the dark side". Come the fuck on Luke. Just because Sidious tells you to kill him doesn't make it evil. He's still a tyrant and a threat to innocent people, you still have to take him out. And if you're not going to, you should at least keep your weapon in hand so you can defend yourself. It's amazing how much damage the phrase "turn the other cheek" has done to our culture's moral compass.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode I introduces midichlorians, a horrible worldbuilding mistake. The Force isn't magical anymore. It's just a scientific phenomenon. If Episode I was the first Star Wars movie and they actually did something with that concept, that would be okay, but after the original trilogy builds up the mysticism around the Force, it really isn't okay. At least it's easy to forget about it since the other movies ignore the concept.
Without knowing the context of the culture it came from, I would think the Jedi are okay with slavery. When Qui-Gon goes to Tatooine and finds slaves, he should have just threatened Watto into letting the slaves go and taken the hyperdrive, but instead he risks the life of a 9-year-old boy in a dangerous race so he can get the parts without upsetting a slaver. What the fuck, Qui-Gon.
It's also a plothole that Anakin won the race. He's just one of probably dozens of racers with no special advantages. We know that he has never even finished a race before, and Sebulba sabotaged his pod, but somehow he still wins because the plot needs him to. Writers can't rely on luck to save the heroes. Come on.
The scene where Anakin asks Padme if she's an angel. Ugh... come on, Lucas. Not only would nobody say that to a stranger in real life, but 9-year-olds aren't exactly known for noticing physical beauty in other people. It's just an absurdly heavy-handed way to set up a forced romance in Episode 2.
The scene at the dinner table where Qui-Gon physically grabs Jar Jar's tongue and holds it for several seconds. This is physical assault. I don't care if his table manners were bad, that doesn't make it okay to just violate someone else's body like that.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The romance was bad because Anakin and Padme had no reason to fall in love. This seems to be a very common mistake in romance writing: writers forget that real people don't fall in love simply because the plot needs them to, but because they see something they like in the other person. Anakin and Padme just had feelings for each other for no reason.
During Dooku's conversation with the captured Obi-Wan, he flat-out tells him that the republic is under the control of a Sith lord. What conclusion could you possibly draw from that except that Palpatine is the Sith lord we've been looking for? And yet the Jedi don't figure it out until well into the next movie.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The movie makes several times the mistake of having the badguys lose fights because they were morons and tried to capture the heroes instead of killing them. It happens aboard the ship in the beginning when the heroes are brought to Grievous and then escape, it happens with the battle droids in the elevator, it happens on Utapau when Obi-Wan jumps down and is surrounded by hundreds of enemies and they don't, you know, all attack him at once like reasonable soldiers.
Padme dies of sadness? Are you kidding me? As if the movie wasn't sexist enough. Just drives home the point that Padme isn't her own character but exists solely for Anakin's sake.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Rey learned the force way too fast. Jedi need years of training to reach even padawan-level, but Rey uses a mind trick successfully without even five minutes of training. Then she beats a trained Sith lord in a lightsaber fight without having ever held a lightsaber before. It's great that Star Wars finally has a female protagonist, but making her blatantly overpowered actually damages the effect by making it look like feminist propaganda.
We were promised an explanation of how Maz Kanata got Luke's lightsaber, but never got it.
Really? The First Order built the Death Star 3.0? What a surprise when the Resistance takes it down in the very same movie! When will the badguys learn? Aaaargh
It's made clear that things have changed since the end of the original trilogy, but we don't know how. The two sides' names have changed - that implies that the war was over at least temporarily. Could we get some background, please, instead of just jumping into the plot in a world we don't know anything about?
In the original trilogy, it's made very clear that Leia is force-sensitive, so why didn't Luke just train her? Honestly why bother introducing Rey when you already have a female hero in place and set up to be a Jedi?
Okay, maybe you don't want Leia to be the protagonist since she's not starting from the beginning like Luke and Rey, but she should at least be a Jedi. She could have been Rey's mentor. Especially since after Episode 8 it's apparent that they are going to make Leia a Jedi after all, it really feels like a needless plothole that Luke didn't just train her immediately after RotJ.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Leia was an asshole to Poe. She physically assaulted him for doing what he thought was right. Fuck this trope. He had every right to hit her back.
Really, Snoke is dead already? He never even got to do anything! What is it with Star Wars and incompetent, underdeveloped villains?
Oh yeah, and the scene where Rose stops Finn from sacrificing himself to save the day. That is actually treacherous. Like I've said before, heroes that make mistakes are great, but it wasn't portrayed as a mistake. Luckily, they left it unclear enough that they still have a chance to reverse it in Episode 9. Not that they will though...
And I'll probably come back and add some more of the more minor and movie-specific criticisms later on. Still, Star Wars ia a huge improvement over other pervasive franchises like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. It's good enough that I plan on watching Episode 9.