Let me get this out of the way right off: I'm a Trekker (not a Trekkie, that's just a novice fan). Nonetheless, I'll try not to be a die-hard nitpicker.
J.J. Abrams' concept sounded stellar when I first heard it about a year ago — go back to the beginning of Star Trek and recount the adventures of the youthful crew of the famed starship Enterprise in their Academy days, before the events of the original series. When I got wind of the fact that they would all actually be on the Enterprise together (which is impossible, if you know anything about the Star Trek timeline – all right, all right, I'll let it go!), I knew some time travel was involved.
What do you know, I was right. Enter Nero, a "most disturbed" Romulan who travels through time to exact some revenge. Bad ol' Nero emerges from a wormhole in space-time and then doth events begin to go awry.
Do they ever.
Oh, all right, it's not terrible. The film is entertaining, if a tad boring. Yes, I said boring. It needs to have a good fifteen minutes trimmed. Other than that, it's a decent sci-fi flick. Just decent. There is no groundbreaking storytelling going on here, no emotional dissertation on the essence of humanity – which is what the original Star Trek series excelled at in its best moments.
The actors do a nice jobs with iconic roles, I will admit. Chris Pine carries off a sarcastic, bombastic, and intuitive Captain Kirk; Zachary Quinto fits the role of Spock nearly perfectly as far as looks, and he comes close to Spock's essence, too, even if he is a bit more hostile; and Karl Urban was spot on as the cantankerous, paranoid, and mouthy Dr. McCoy. They deserve credit for honoring their characters while giving them freshness and youth.
For all its cheesy special effects and overacting, the original series of Star Trek was at heart about friendship – and it especially became known for the camaraderie of Kirk and Spock. Even non-Trek fans know that. If Abrams really wanted to "reboot" this franchise, I think he should have put more focus on those two. To me, they seemed mostly interested in establishing careers rather than a friendship in this film.
The other "famous face," so to speak, in Star Trek is the Enterprise itself. She looks spectacular here, sleek and virginal. When she drops out of warp with all weapons bearing down on the Romulan ship – oh, that was a beautiful, triumphant Trek moment. Inside, the ship looked … white. It seemed to be only missing the padding on the walls to make it a passable loony bin. But, the new warp speed sound effect — awesome. The new transporter effect — awesome. I even liked the new phasers.
The special effects were impressive and certainly made this look both like and unlike any other Trek film or series. At the same time, it felt sterile, austere, distant. But maybe that was just my resentment.
I keep coming back to the "reboot." I just don't get it. I would say this rebooting thing is just an excuse for plagiarizers to play around in someone else's world. They're imposing their own parameters on another's creativity, not honoring or paying tribute to it. I can't classify people who do it as creative.
Abrams paid tribute to the Godzilla universe, for example, with the mediocre Cloverfield. But at least there he didn't piddle in the established Godzilla world like a mischievous toddler. I have to wonder what Gene Roddenberry would think about the puddle Abrams left in his world. He literally destroyed some important elements of the Trekverse – no, really, he did, on screen. It was difficult to watch.