Make one of the ships an Interdictor class Star Destroyer. They are cannon again, and would solve a lot of the issues vis a vis the pursuit without introducing a never before mentioned fuel limitation.
I’m not sure it’s possible, without recutting the films massively, because there are just too many story beats in the films which are solely there because they ape something from an earlier film. That being said, I would have enjoyed something along the lines of:
The Force Awakens
More world building. Let the core conflict be between the Remnants of the Galactic Empire (under a military Junta) and the New Republic currently in a truce…
Make the Resistance the actual “Secret Service” of the New Republic. This allows the Poe/Finn/Rey storyline to progress in parallel with the worldbuilding being done by scenes about Organa, the Senate, and the growing threat she is seeing from the “First Order”. The Knights of Ren are the Empire’s Gestapo.
The plot that they unravel is that of a Pearl Harbor-like strike against the Republic fleet using “Sith magic” (battle meditation and precognition is a well-used plot point from the EU and games) from a heretofore unknown Sith master, Snoke.
Cue big space battle as the conclusion. Rey/Finn/Poe manage to warn Leia early enough for the Republic to salvage some of it’s fleet, although much material is lost.
The Last Jedi
Since the FO has a Sith master capable of battle meditation, the Republic needs Skywalker back since he’s the only Jedi master left.
Have the main conflict be a couple of battles (not a long chase scene) in which the Republic’s forces are soundly defeated, while Rey finds Luke who is unwilling to return.
In the meantime, Ben is preparing a coup d’etat by him and the Knights against the Empire’s government.
Show much more of the Dark side in Rey. The films never really dares go there, and it makes it so I at least never seriously believed Rey would turn to the dark side.
End with a battle in which the Empire corners the remnants of the Republic fleet. Kylo usurps leadership from Snoke, since he is no longer needed. Luke returns in the nick of time to help the Republic having had a change of heart. A Snoke replacement reappears and it is revealed the Emperor is the real power behind Snoke (putting Kylo back in his subservient role). His plan all along was to lure Luke out of hiding so that he can destroy him and the Republic fleet in one fell sweep. Luke sacrifices himself in a non-stupid way to allow the Republic fleet escape.
Rise of Skywalker
It is revealed that the Sith clones come from the hidden planet, which sets up the Republic’s race to try and find it so that they can try to destroy the Emperor.
Kylo realizes he is nothing but a pawn of the Emperor. He remains leader of the Ren (Gestapo), but is shown to be having doubts while following the Emperor’s orders. Show Rey on the opposite side Tease the viewers that we’ll see an actual battle where Ben has turned good and Rey evil.
Give events actual emotional weight, something that especially VII and IX never do. Cut one or more of the stupid planets. Drop the stupid knife, which makes absolutely no sense.
The big fleet threat at Exegol is a new series of Star Destroyers captained by Sith clones of the Emperor (or whatever - make it a superweapon fleet, I can deal with that old plot being rehashed once in the new trilogy). In any case, with the setup of the Republic fleet being but a shadow of itself and the Galaxy gradually being conquered by the Empire during VIII, the setup for the penultimate battle and the final call for help (made by Leia as part of her final sacrifice) makes sense, and has some emotional payoff.
The Emperor still wants Rey as his heir and successor. Maybe make her a bit like X-23, having been grown in a womb at a natural pace (unlike the other clones who are grown and deteriorate fast) or something. Whatever - at least make the sequence of how she gets to Jakku non-stupid.
End pretty much in the same way, with the Sith destroyed, etc.
This probably doesn’t make any sense, actually, but then the story is so nonsensical in its details that its not really easily fixable.
New Republic is an established govt but with imperial remnants (first order) around as more of a terrorist org.
Introduce Rey as a scavenger in back water. Very much a Luke-like cues. Meets Han and Chewie who have been sent on a mission to to Rey’s planet to find a imperial plot.
Shennagins happen, Finn introduced as first order clone trooper traitor. Plot uncovered.
Good guys win. Rey and Finn both exhibit force powers.
Movie ends with both being sent to Luke’s Jedi Academy
Finn and Rey join Luke’s fledgling academy of a few dozen. Ben Solo is introed as his star pupil
Rey quickly surplants Ben as star pupil and later revealed to be linked to Palpatine. Bens jealousy is flared up even further when he realizes that clonetroopers like Finn can also have strong force powers.
movie focuses on first order slowly turning Ben and finishing with most of the academy slaughtered and Kylo Ren being born.
Han killed by Kylo. Rey pretends to be turned as well in order to not be killed and follows Kylo.
Luke, Finn and a few other misc. students are the only students left.
First order plot revealed to be Mass’s produced sith as next generation clone troopers.
Kylo and Rey flip between light and dark a few times during the movie.
misc. stuff happens
movie ends with Luke et al. somehow figures out that dark side of force isn’t evil by itself and incorporating some of it makes force users more stable and vow to create a type of Jedi going forward.
If I had my druthers it would still be a story of young Jedi and Sith, but Luke would have established the new Jedi Order and be struggling to avoid the mistakes of the Old Republic. I would cast Mark Hamill and either have him play older or write that he’d extended his lifespan to give the new Jedi time to proliferate.
I’d probably bring McDarmid back as a Sith force ghost if that’s a thing, influencing the new generation, but the main non-force-using evil groups would have a new approach, trying to learn from previous empires/evil armies but superseding them.
No Han. No Leia unless she extended her lifespan via the Force. Maybe Chewy since Wookiees live a long time. Lots of new scoundrels, scavengers and pilots, like Finn, Poe and Moz, but even scrappier. Weirder droids and furry creatures.
I have no problem with fuel as a concept, however given that logistics such as that have never meant anything in the series before, it was a poor choice given that other means to the same ends already exist and have been used before.
That nothing else uses them marks the central conflict incongruous.
This doesn’t follow. That fuel has never been introduced as a factor previously wouldn’t negate its existence entirely. I’ve never seen anyone in the Star Wars movies use the bathroom either, but I assume they do so. If some hypothetical future movie involves Rey scrambling to find a toilet, should I consider that cheating?
Is it a core component of the plot, or just a comedic bit? Because yeah, if Rey spent a whole movie fumbling for a toilet and the search for a bathroom was the pivot of the story, I’d wonder why this suddenly became a thing in the Star Wars universe.
We’re talking about a detail that literally drives the movie. That’s the same movie that handwaves people escaping the chase by just leaving and coming back willy-nilly because their ship is “too small” to notice.
You can call that handwaving, but it’s not as if the Empire never bothered with dealing with smaller ships escaping them before, as in when they declined to fire on the escape pod with R2-D2 and C-3PO in it back in the first movie.
But OK sure, if we want to find stuff that doesn’t work for us in the movies, here’s something that’s always bothered me: how is it that Luke, a fairly pivotal soldier in a rebellious uprising, can just traipse off to Dagobah to meet up with Yoda, against orders (remember R2 tries to talk him out of it), conduct training with Yoda for who knows how long, engage in a personal attack on Darth Vader, then come slouching back for his prosthetic hand, and there are no repercussions?
I’ll tell you why: because there are essentially no rules in Star Wars. Stuff happens because the plot needed it to for their to even be a movie. The rebellion, the Empire, the jedi, the sith, they’re just background to the main characters and their personal drama. If a thing will add to the drama, it becomes important. If it does not, it fades until needed again. I don’t even hold that against Star Wars, you could say the same thing about lots of stories, legends and fables and myths, which Star Wars was written to be. I just don’t get all this twisting ourselves in knots when something doesn’t fit neatly into some pattern that never really existed.