The three-star ratings for those three films seem fair then because of your mixed impressions of them for different reasons.
On the other hand, whenever someone says "show me something new!" I think of Voyager
as examples of how that doesn't always guarantee that'll work. No one really cares about the Baku and VOY isn't exactly everyone's favorite series.
Since we're talking about TWOK, TSFS, and TVH; I think it has to do with Harve Bennett. As an outsider to Star Trek, he based his first movie (TWOK) on a pre-existing episode. Then, in his next movie, he went back to the most-used enemies of the series. Finally, he took it back to Earth. Very methodical.
TSFS, is text book methodical, mechanical writing. It's also the one Star Trek film where Harve Bennett has sole writing credit. They have to go back to Genesis. The Enterprise is damaged. It's too easy for Starfleet to say "go ahead!" so have Kirk butt heads with Starfleet; who then becomes an obstacle. McCoy is out of it because of the mind-meld, adding to the urgency. Who can Kirk fight? Why not the Klingons? What can up the drama and make Kirk really hate them? Kill David! But the Enterprise is undermanned and badly damaged. There's no way out! What to do? Add more drama! Blow up the Enterprise! "Kirk and crew hijack the Klingon ship!" Then they show up on Vulcan, Spock's body and spirit are re-united and everything's back to normal (minus the Enterprise being blown up) or is it? "To be continued!"
TWOK, on the other hand, is a combination of several different pitches and several different versions of the story, so it comes off as more dynamic and spontaneous.
TVH, whatever one would think of it, was an inspired idea. "What if the crew goes back in time and saves an endangered species to solve a problem in the future. Well we're at it, we can contrast Star Trek with the 20th Century!" And they ran with it.