I feel the exact same way. I went into that movie hoping, HOPING, that it could somehow make the ~5 hours I spent watching eps 1 & 2 worth it. But no. There was not ONE DAMN OUNCE of emotion in that entire movie!! And you're right, how could Samuel L. Jackson have sucked? The "L" factor is what I've used to describe the Star Wars movies since after seeing Episode II: you can take any actor, and they will SUCK ASS in a Star Wars (prequel) movie. Not even--dare I say this--MEL GIBSON could've made this movie worth watching. I've actually seen Portman in other movies, and she's not that bad. But in this? It drags her down.
The plot holes were also gaping as well. My favorite part was when Anakin was struggling w/ whether or not to kill Count Dooshbag (er, Dooku) and the Emperor basically said, "Why not?" Anakin basically replies, "yeah, fuck it," and decapitates him. WOW, Hayden, what an epic struggle you've shown.
But it got better! Recall that Jedi are not supposed to kill. Yeah, a Batman rule; I dig it. But Hayden totally did. So Obi Wan regains consciousness. Nothing. No reprimands. Then later, Anakin says to Mace Windu, "I killed Dooku, and Grievous escaped." Windu says, "WHAT?!?!?!?!? Did you say Grievous escaped??" Nothing!! This is just one of the many holes I found easy to stumble in.
Haha, I also concur with your "what isn't better than episodes 1 and 2?" theory. Our bookstore recently got remodeled, and some of us were standing around about 1.5 months ago discussing the movie. Ron said, "Well, it's better than Episodes 1 and 2, right?" To which I replied, "Ron, our new paint job is better than those movies." Damn... it doesn't take much to beat those 2 movies, so you know when someone defends episode 3 by saying "at least it's the best of the new trilogy" that they've totally run out of defenses.
Star Wars is dead. Lucas should bury it and move on. This new TV series isn't going to help things, I'm guessing. It'll be the damn fanboys that keep this garbage alive. It went out with a bang in 1983, and as far as I've concerned, it should've gone out on top.