Welcome aboard Whitey.
As for myself, I didn't love Ep 1 as a Star Wars movie, nor did I love it as a movie by itself. I don't much like it, there are elements I like, but there's just so much slop around it that the movie suffers greatly. I totally agree with you about Lucas pandering to the kiddies here, as if he's done with the current generation of SW fans and needs to get the next generation of kids hooked.
You guys, how does the hype have anything to do with the movie? Really? And if you are fans, how do you know the hype affected the general public?