The main problem with this movie is that viewers lacking prior exposure to other films in the series might be confused about the setup. But for followers of the classic TV cast and science-fiction fans of all ages, it's a great ride. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock ties in snugly with its predecessor Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the next one in the series, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Put end-to-end, these three practically amount to one super-sized episode. In other words, Trekkie heaven.
Some of the Khan themes seem to have gotten lost in the interim -- there are no more hang-ups about old age for this James T. Kirk, who suddenly doesn't need glasses and brawls enthusiastically. When thunderbolts rip across the skies of an unruly planetscape because someone's having a really, really tough day, it hits mythic, almost Wagnerian-opera notes. But those are minor complaints, in a space-adventure movie that has all the expected stupendous visuals, but also characters that are just as compelling. We know and care for these people, and really root for them as they risk everything for their friends. In a lot of science-fiction spectacles the actors are pretty much stick-figures, but in any given Star Trek movie or series, they're charming, funny, perceptive, touching, pained, smart -- in other words, just as interesting as the futuristic stuff. Even with planets exploding around them.