I caught it this afternoon on a whim with my gf and the kids... albeit not young kids, but kids anyway.
I actually have to disagree with you Scott, on the backgrounds. Check out Mos Espa, Watto's shop and Junkyard... and, well, that's about it, but those two things (the race arena too if you count it separately) I noticed a lot more stuff. Some very 2-1B-ish looking torsoes lying in a row at Watto's Junkyard, all the background driods and bits. Noticed background characters I'd never seen before (the guy sitting with Vos in particular, as well as a yellow Rum Sleg looking guy).
I noticed stuff.
I went in kind of thinking this was going to suck, however I'd never seen any 3D movie since Jaws 3-D and so I was hoping for something cool in that realm, and I was really happy ultimately. Like the scen where Qui Gon's threatening Watto on the balcony after the race. I loved it. The light on QGJ's head as he stepped out of the shadows and things.
I thought the 3D also highlighted how decent some of the CGI work was. People criticize E1, but in the realm of CGI work it was pretty revolutionary. Characters like Watto especially were VERY well done, and Jar Jar wasn't bad either. Jabba was good too. Maybe they could use updating now but I thought they were pretty good still.
I have the same gripes otherwise though... I think Anakin was FAR worse than Jar Jar, and honestly if Jar Jar had been subtitled and not that ****** accent, I'd have loved that a lot more. Give him a weird, but not obnoxious voice/dialect and subtitles and I just think it would've been a better character... Maybe not as kid friendly, but they did it with Sebulba and Watto so I think it would've worked with JJ as well and made him less obnoxious. Overall he's much more tolerable than Jake Lloyd's just simply horrible acting.
Lliam Neeson is still one of my favorite aspects of the prequals.
Maul seemed just a little more menacing in 3-D. I liked that. I also noticed more "noises" from him. Mostly grunts and stuff, but for some reason I noticed it now and never did before.
Sio Bibble needs a top hat and ****** magic tricks.
Neimoidians seemed a lot lamer in E1... Why is that? Why did they become better in the later prequals? Were the voices dubbed better or something?
Lots of kids in the theater today, at a 3:45 showing of it, so I thought that was a positive.
I really enjoyed it... I feel like I'm in the minority but I went in thinking it was gonna eat it, and there are dull points for sure (Once they're ready to leave Naboo it picks up but that whole opening is just bull****. Also once they get to Coruscant it really slows down again but the return to Naboo gets kind of cool again once they get the Gungans and start making plans).
Oh and I thought the 3-D looked really neat on Coruscant, when Sids and Maul were chatting on the balcony. Loved that too. Loved the depth there.
The Taxi guy... who the hell would get into that thing with him? He's creepy and silent, and never looks around. Guy's a ticking time bomb. He actually is the Star Wars version of "Taxi Driver" I think.
What can I say? I liked it.
It made me anxious, actually, to see how battles look in the 3-D, such as Hoth, Yavin, Endor, Geonosis, or (oh my) the opening to ROTS. That's gonna be trippy I think.