Is it better than the first two movies? Yes. Is it better than Return of the Jedi? Yes, but only "from a certain point of view."
Poor George just can't seem to please everybody. He really gives everything he's got in this one -- even his own youngling/son Jett. He's got so much going on during the action sequences that even the action-loving fans might feel a little bloated due to the FX overload. But do not get me wrong, it's still a pretty decent bridge from the annoying Attack of the Clones and the historic A New Hope. Is the ride a fun one? Sure. Is the movie seeping with anti-Bush commentary? Yep -- just as much as M Night's The Village did. Did it bother me? No. Was I disappointed that he didn't save his political views for the next Indiana Jones installment? Yeah... a little bit. I mean, this is Star Wars. I fell for this series back when I was five. It's supposed to be my escape to a galaxy far far away. I don't want to sit around and debate the whole force/religion thing when I see a Star Wars movie,and the same goes with politics. As a matter of fact, it was politics that had me choking during my first screening of The Phantom Menace. All that "necessary" trade federation nonsense had me ready to puke in boredom.
Yet, overall, did Lucas succeed? Yes. Will some of the effects bother you? Yes. Will you care? Probably, but you'll still have some fun. Will you still wonder how R2 started as a pimped out droid and ended up as a wobbling trash can with a little person inside? Yep.
Final Quick Comments:
1. Hayden is allowed to show he really can act... (just in case you have never seen Shattered Glass or Life As a House)
2. Ian McDiarmid revives the evil. Great performance.
3. Padme carries twins REAL well. Was she nine months along? Couldn't be.
4. Jimmy Smits must be George's neighbor. It was completely unnecessary to cast him.
5. My favorite lightsaber battle is still Luke Vs. Darth in ROTJ.
6. Steve Oedekerk is THE CHOSEN ONE.
As a movie: 2.5 out of 5. As a Star Wars movie: 4 out of 5.