The story in a vacuum would be fantastic, until you realize it's really just a remake. There are about a dozen scenes or themes lifted right out of the 1977 original.
The story is a bridge. Intended to reboot interest, and make some money. There's much more to come, and I'm certain a lot of it will be different things.
You're both correct IMO. The remake aspect was meant entirely to recapture the spirit of the original, which it did very well. After a trilogy of prequels that had none of the spirit or energy of the originals and a script so bad even A-List talent couldn't make you care about the characters, the goal was to bring back the human element to the storyline, introduce a new cast of young heroes and villains, set them up with motives, and then move forward. It also relied heavily on a little help from an old friend who did his job very well.
They also needed to bring back that sense of high adventure that had nothing to do with how detailed the CGI effects were. The prequels were all effect, and had no soul. This one had a lovely organic feel, and brought back "the dirt" for which the originals were so famous. By comparison, even the scenes on Tatooine were sterile CGI in The Phantom Menace. Probably the biggest thing Lucas got right with the original trilogy was making science fiction look old and weathered. Some say it was the layer of dirt on everything that made the originals so convincing.
And yes, to some degree they stuck with a successful formula to please the crowd and make a lot of money. But it's a great formula and Abrams treated it with respect and reverence.