To this day it still seems a funny choice to have cast Chris Lloyd as a 'Klingon'. Such a wiry guy with a weak parched voice and definitely more of a comedic actor. I'm not sure he pulled it off really, I can see his his other amusing film characters shining through every time he's in shot hehe and he's not really very threatening. There isn't really any reason for him to be involved either, he's just there, in space, for no reason and decides to go after the 'Genesis' data, no background a tall.
So despite a slightly weak villain the main plus point is that the continuity carries on nicely from the second film with everyone present and correct accept the character of 'Saavik' (no longer Alley), of course the plot carries on nicely also. It actually feels very much like a huge film cut in two (this and 'Khan') or back to back filming, not much difference between the two.
The story does feel rather contrived with a major U-turn, 'Spock' had been killed off in a grand heroic manner to end the film franchise. The second film did well (unexpectedly?) so they had to think of a way to bring him back to life so the franchise could be milked further haha. This does equal much spiritual 'Vulcan' jiggery pokery which is interesting but at the same time a bit heavy and tends to drag the sci-fi down into another realm or genre even. Personally I didn't like that side of the story, it just doesn't seem to work for me and its all too convenient.
I have always thought that the story behind 'David' being 'Kirk's' son was never really explored properly either. We discover this revelation in 'Khan' but its so subdued I would of thought we might get more in this third film, but no. Even in death 'kirk's' son gets no real epic send off, the whole thing from start to finish is glossed over pretty lazily really, oh well.
Everything else within the film is pretty much the standard look and feel of the second film simply carried on, nothing much to rave about really, its all quite average. Effects are still rather poor to be frank, the starship sequences look a touch neater this time but the planet surface of 'Genesis' has some nasty obvious set work accompanied by some even worse destruction effects as the planet disintegrates. 'Kirk' and company even remain in the same uniforms for this continuing adventure!. Both the second and third films have one other plus point in their favour and that was Horner and his instrumental score. The first film lacked a good score but this is fixed with gusto by Horner as he provides much needed emotion and vigor to the films. That was one reason the first film seemed a bit limp at times.
Its all a bit hokey in all honesty, almost like a young teens comicbook film. It does seem like this story idea could simply be a small chapter in the Trek universe that could of been explained within a TV episode, there really isn't any outstanding movie moments a tall. Speaking of hokey...don't you just love seeing Shatner in fist fights, the finale fight between 'Kirk' and 'Kruge' really was pretty dire to say the least haha. Talk about fluffy theatrical fisticuffs! never at any point does it look real or remotely intense, lets face it neither actors are the athletic fighting type. Absolutely terrible yet probably close to the real Star Trek of the mid 60's, I did enjoy that scene.
The whole film feels very much like a 'made for TV' movie and only slightly less cheaper looking than the second. The acting is wooden but that is part of the charm admittedly, we expect that, but the film just doesn't have any cinematic impact what so ever. Funnily enough this film does also feel closer to its TV origins than the semi serious sci-fi of the original (as did 'Khan'), I put that down to the low values of pretty much everything, 'cardboard effects'.
End of the day you just can't go wrong with a good old fashioned adventure with the old crew of the 'Enterprise'. This film is probably a bit worse than 'Khan' but it still manages to be fun in a very silly quirky way whilst remaining faithful to original source material. Can't deny its always a good romp.
Keep an eye out for the small cameo by Miguel Ferrer as a crew member onboard the 'Excelsior'.