I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats.
We were in the second row, so I got the full visual immersion therapy. There was so much happening on the screen that it was almost sensory overload, especially during the fight scenes, the battle scenes, and the chase scenes. I would say I don't think any of it was superfluous, it was necessary to convey the immensity of what was happening. The visuals were stunning, and at no time did I think to myself that something was a cheap or obvious effect.
For the story, it was heart-wrenching. Anakin and Obi-Wan rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku. Obi-Wan is unconscious for the defeat of the Count. Anakin disarms him (really, he dishands him, but that's splitting Sith), and the Chancellor tells him he must kill Dooku because he is too dangerous to remain alive. Anakin is torn, but beheads Dooku. He regrets this decision, as it is not the Jedi way. Keep this scene in mind.
When they return to Coruscant, Padmé tells Ani of her pregnancy, and soon he has prophetic dreams that she'll die in childbirth. He wants there to be a way to save her. The Chancellor makes Anakin his personal liason to the Jedi Council, but the Council will not make him a master, which insults and infuriates him. He fears the Council does not trust him, even when Obi-Wan asks him to spy on the Chancellor. After General Grievous' defeat at the hand of Obi-Wan, Anakin reports this to Palpatine. The Chancellor reveals how much he knows of the Dark Side and temps him with the thought that through the Dark Side, he could actually keep her from dying. When Anakin reveals to the Council that Palpatine is the Sith Lord, Windu and three other Jedi go to arrest him. Sidious kills the other three Jedi and is facing off with Windu, and Sidous is using his Force Lightning against his blade to thwart a lethal blow. In this effort, the Dark Side disfigures him. Anakin enters and tries to talk Windu out of destroying him. Windu says he must die. He is too dangerous to remain alive. In this moment, the easy juxtaposition of the Light and Dark Sides makes itself clear to Anakin, who saves Sidious from the final blow, allowing the Sith Lord to kill Windu. I thought this was really well done.
Later, after hearing from Obi-Wan that Anakin has turned against the Jedi, slaughtering the younglings and turning against everything that the Light Side stands for, she goes off to find him. Obi-Wan stows away aboard the ship. When Anakin sees that she has brought his old Master to him, he feels she has betrayed him. He used the Force Grip on her, choking her until she is unconscious. Obi-Wan and the new Darth Vader have an incredible duel, at the end of which, Vader is defeated, losing his left arm and both legs. The lava sets him on fire. This is the reason for his physical appearance in Episodes IV-VI. Obi-Wan takes Padmé to Bail Organa's Corvette, where the medical droids can find nothing physically wrong with her, but she is dying. "She has lost the will to live." The twins are born and named, Luke and Leia. Padmé dies with Obi-Wan by her side, just as Anakin foresaw. The terrible irony is that it was his betrayal of everything they held dear, his turn to evil and killing in the effort to save her life, that caused her to die of a broken heart, it seems. This is the part where I cried. When Vader is revived, the first thing he asks of his master is where Padmé is, if she is safe. The Emporer tells his apprentice that in his anger, Lord Vader killed her. The despair and grief in that moment was palpable, literally, as the telekinetic power of the Force flowed through him and caused bulkheads to distort, glass to shatter and droids to crumple. The drawn out "NOOOOOOOOO!" didn't even seem too melodramatic. What else could he say? Everything he sacrificed himself for was lost by that decision.
Leia is adopted by Organa, and Luke is taken to Owen and Beru on Tatooine, and in Padmé's funeral, she appears to be pregnant, so Darth Vader and everyone else would believe that the baby died with her. Only Organa, Owen and Beru, Obi-Wan, and Yoda knew otherwise. The droids' memories were wiped (but not R2's). Pass 16-18 years and A New Hope begins.
Now of course, I want to watch episodes IV-VI to get that sense of continuity. But I have to get up for work in 2½ hours.
Thank you again to Flower and Jason for taking me to this movie. May the Force be with you.