I’ve just scanned this thread, not having read it before, so I apologize if I repeat things here.
To all those who complained about the (non-lead) acting – bear in mind that this movie is a gift and a love letter to the fans who kept the franchise going. .Most of that bad acting is by non-actor fans being rewarded. So Ensign Perez (“Carbon Life Forms?”) is a Fan. The people on Epsilon 9 who had those awful lines? Fans. The reason Kirk addresses a big auditorium full of crew members, many of them dressed and made up as aliens? That was the way to “pay off” a lot of fans at once. And we didn’t have to put up with their acting.
I was disappointed that the story was basically The Changeling redux, with a bit of Immunity Syndrome thrown in in the form of that “cloud”. But it was tolerable. They had a lot of problems trying to coordinate special effects from multiple effects houses, which is one reason some scenes weren’t done until the TV Director’s Cut edition, but using multiple effects houses, while commonplace today, was still relatively new in 1979.
And, yeah, it looked impressive even after Star Wars (Star Wars is a big reason that the famously on again-off again Star Trek movie eventually got the green light). Certainly compared to the TV series, the movie got Big Bucks, and used it effectively. I like that the Enterprise doesn’t glow with light from some undisclosed source, but had to be lit by its own beacon lights. Or that the individual plates covering her skin show up nicely hat way. I don’t even mind the interminable tour when we first see it. It makes more sense in the context of the time – it had been a decade since the Original series. The only Star Trek fix the fans had gotten were the limited animated series and fan art, and a glimpse in 1976 of the “new” Enterprise. Of course they wanted to see the new model from all angles. And the footage wasn’t re-used for Star Trek II just because it was good. They already had it, so it was cheap. They didn’t have as much money for ST II, but they used what they had wisely. The Reliant cost a fraction of what the Enterprise model did, and was lighter, to boot. But it looked just as good on the screen.
I did go to see it more than once in the theater, although I was aware of its flaws. It was certainly better than Buck Rogers, or Meteor, or Moonraker, or even The Black Hole (talk about a missed opportunity – TBH could have been great!)