From what I understand part of the reason the film is so beloved is Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban is so damn money as the villain. This dude chews up scenery like a hungry Rancor feasting on people Jabba doesn't like (wrong series...sorry nerds). His quest for vengeance against Kirk does make for a exciting film and the action and story beats hold up very well. However some of the acting is a little over the top and the special effects are pretty janky. Scenes of torpedoes being fired from ships that look like glowing golden orbs are just pretty bootleg. I'm not sure if it's cool to judge old films on their special effects but if nerds are gonna worship something, then I'm gonna hold it to a high standard.
I was also struck how the film isn't afraid to address some real deal themes, you know like life, death, religion, and if you should strike things up with old flames. But seriously, the "Kobayashi Maru" test which popped up in the reboot is a plot point in the film that effectively muses about being prepared for death. Scenes involving McCoy and company ruminating on the "Genesis" project, kind of an atom bomb of planet creation are a noble attempt at something more substantive.
Director Nicholas Meyer does a solid job and there is some memorable camera work, particularly with scenes set outside the spaceships, yet the best part of the movie is the highly quotable space dialogue that is highly memorable and always touching. Spock's "I have been...and always shall be...your friend," is the real deal when it comes to emotional moments and McCoy's simple comment about Kirk getting out there to "hop galaxies" makes Kirk sound like the space age Don Draper (which maybe he just is).
So is it worthy of me doing a cred confession (i've done some pretty serious films)? Yeah, it is, it's a successful genre film that succeeds at becoming something more. Guess I'm starting to get it.