Applause all around at the start, but not the end.
In fact when Revenge of the Sith exploded onto the Odeon screen in the customary John Williams-assisted fashion my neighbour leaned over to his partner and whispered "the last time" momentously to her.
The planetary vistas and the space battles are like watching a beautiful traffic jam. In close up however, the rest is like watching a far less fetching piece of congestion.
The essence of a good story is this: find a protagonist in stasis, remove him or her from it and then show how they overcome all obstacles to return to it, or a new form of it. Stray away from this at your peril. What we now have to refer to as Episode IV fits this format precisely. Episode III tries to float down the 'tragic' canal but is swamped with the kind of unncessary detail that ironically leaves the whole thing feeling utterly superficial.
If you have a bigger tale to tell, one that (really) justifies a sequel or two, the trick is to make sure it takes the form of an expanded version of the structure that governs the narrative of the individual parts and that it doesn't end up degrading them.
Episode's IV-VI undoubtedly made some false moves, but just about held it together as a trilogy. Not so, Episodes I-III, and worse, they have at least partially undermined their predecessors in the process.
In 1977 Lucas fed our imaginations with an epic space opera peopled with likeable and memorable characters, and hinted at a darker backstory which gave the whole thing more substance. He really should have resisted the temptation to actually show us this backstory cinematically, because he is no Shakespeare and Darth Vader is no Macbeth or Brutus. A sequel made up almost entirely of background trying hard to be foreground is what we have ended up with. (And this background has no background of its own, just endless vistas of detail.)
The force deserts the dialogue very early on, as as with The Matrix sequels some of the main personalities steadily devitalise as the conclusion approaches. (Padme in particular suffers a fate appropriate to what has become of her character.)
Another similarity with the Wachowski brothers' world is that the society lying behind the aspirations of the good guys is seen to be hardly worth saving from destruction.
Gladiator proved you don't have to be Shakespeare to set up moving character interactions within an epic scenario. Like Episode IV it also successfully re-moulded a narrative template with multiple borrowings from historical and mythological archetypes. This is a trick that Lucas seems to have forgotten along the way.
Frode though "it sucked bad" too. Vader's presentation to the Orange Film Funding Board offered some compensation.