Laparoscopic gallbladder removal - is it a lot better than the old way?

Yes. Unquestionably. Occasionally it cannot be done that way however, depending on the situation.
In general YES. In general yes. Based on years of surgical information, the standard of care is minimally invasive/laparoscopic approach for gallbladder removal. As in all surgical treatment, the best surgical approach/technique (open vs minimally invasive) must be considered carefully.