PM does get more flak than it really deserves, in my opinion anyway, but that goes for all the prequels. I do still think it's the weakest of the three though.
I don't mean to say that Chrisopher Lee is bad but having an old man play your big villian was horrible. I love, love, love Darth Maul and I would have paid to see him and Vader get it on. It was stupid to kill him in episode 1 and the villian they brought in did not match up.
I can see why you'd like Maul even though he is just a tool of Sidious and does nothing on his own, still I can see why you'd like him. Are you sure your problem with Dooky is that he is an old man though? Just find it somewhat curious considering the main villains in the original trilogy is a pair of old and slow (though still very powerful) men (just like Dooku) and in small part a big chunk fat called Jabba
- The color palette, or the way the filmed it, is more congruous with the original movies. From a "look and feel" perspective it looks like one of the older movies.
- The lightsaber duel at the end is flat out the best lightsaber duel in any of the movies.
- Pod racing sequence is one of the better action sequences overall. Not as good as the space battle at the beginning of III or end of VI.
I think the main thing with the PT is that is was too heavy on the political intrigue. It's a bit of a catch-22 because the political intrigue is what really set the stage for the Emperor's rise. Not sure if there could have been a better way to show it in the movies, but so much senatorial debate and maneuverings is incongruous with what we identify as Star Wars and so from that perspective alone the PT has a different feel to it.
Can't say much about the look and feel because honestly, I haven't really thought about it with the prequels or the original trilogy.
The lightsaber duel in the end of PM is indeed amazing, rarely mentioned when people talk about PM, guess they forgot it due to bad stuff? The pod-race on the other hand I'll have to disagree with, it was OK the first time I saw it but after that it's just too long and not all that interesting and that stupid race even got longer in the home-media releases, just don't get it. Honestly when I do watch PM I skip most of the time on Tatooine.
What I get from critics isn't really that the political stuff was bad (personally I kind of like that angle, seeing how Palpatine did get control) but more of an issue with how the characters are written, how likeable they are, and structuring "issues" like a clear protagonist and antagonist. The of course there will always be the matter of it being far too over-hyped when it came out with everyone expecting far too much