I think this was the last of the original 6 Trek movies I ever got around to seeing, so I knew well enough to blunt my expectations. Maybe Robert Wise really was just the right director for this - it keeps going for "AWE! AWE! AWE!" with scarcely anything else, and I doubt many other people could've actually succeeded for even the fleeting moments that Wise pulls off here. And for sure, it's got those moments; as substance-less as the ideas are (like all dumb Trek movie ideas, they never turned up in the agonizingly continuity-enslaved Trek universe again) they are presented in big, beautiful, and sometimes awe-inspiring fashion.
I still think it's kind of neat though - as a point in the Trek universe, it stands alone, separated by ten years of real time to the series that spawned it, and I think ten years of narrative time to the next five movies which form their own era. All those awful costume and set design decisions (Bones shows up with a leisure suit and a big goddamn disco neck chain) were never seen before or since. It sits in this lost but perfectly intriguing period in Trek universe history. And Persis Khambatta's got legs up to fuckin' here, goddamn!
Also interesting: I think this is the last non-kiddie movie to get away with being rated G. If it were made later, they would've thrown in blood or an "Oh shit" or tits - well, probably not tits, this is Star Trek - to get it above what would soon be considered a kiddie-only rating.
Like its largely regrettable brother Star Trek V, it's one of the few Trek movies much concerned with exploring something beyond our knowledge. As such, this has been done a lot better elsewhere (most obviously, 2001: A Space Odyssey) but it's nice to see the Trek movies at least try once in a while to live up to the "boldly go" mandate.
One thing I never noticed before - the member of the species that touts itself as being "sexually mature" makes a point of mentioning her oath of celibacy. Come the fuck on. :lol: Something else - some closeups have a sharp foreground but a crazily out-of-focus background. I don't know if that's new to blu-ray or what.