Star Trek, the reboot, was at best, a bold gamble by J. J. Abrams & Co. If they screwed the pooch on this, the wrath of the rabid Trekkies (like me) would descend on their collective hides like the Borg Cube at Wolf 359.
This review has some minor spoilers mostly already referenced in the trailers, so be warned.
The biggest problem with Star Trek was having young and relatively unknown actors playing much loved and iconic characters. Besides, after the last few Star Trek movies and the much maligned Enterprise TV Series, the fan base had lost faith. The odds were stacked against Abram's & Co - a real life Kobiyashi Maru scenario. An unwinnable situation. The trick as all Trekkies now know is not to play the game, but to alter the parameters of the test. That's what Abram's & Co did. And that is why it is so exciting.
While the reboot Star Trek is all about how Kirk, Spock, Bones and rest of the crew came together, it is also about boldly going off in a brand new direction and do it in a way that is totally acceptable to the nit-picking Trekkies. The new universe that Abrams & Co have created is set up as an alternative timeline where anything is possible. The arrival of Nero from the future totally changes things in this universe - starting with the death of Kirk's father and ending at, well you need to see the movie to see how far Abram's go to make the point that this ain't your daddy's Trek.
The look and feel of Abram's universe is different - and for some reason overwhelmed with massive amounts of lens-flares. It does bring a unique look, and at times it is cool, but after the 234th lens flare obscuring the action, it does get annoying. The clean and white look of the ships (except for the bridge) is replaced by a Battlestar Galactica look for the rest of the ship - pipes, exposed conduits, dripping water. Not necessarily bad, but just a bit jarring.
The new and redesigned Enterprise looks fine to this Trekkie as well as the new warp, transporter and phaser effects.
The effects are great but the space battles look a little too busy, but thankfully not much camera shakes. The space-jumping scene was awesome - and what is with the red-costumes? The moment I saw the guy in red space-suit, I knew he was going to die and die he did, in a specular way. And no that wasn't a spoiler for any self-respecting Trekkie.
Chris Pine is not the Shat, but he is Kirk. Like Shatner he manages to imbue the character with the right amount of charm, alpha-male cockiness and humor. But this Kirk will never be the Kirk from the previous timeline, the death of his father has made him a different Kirk.
If Pine is spot on for the character of Kirk, Zachary Quinto is the perfect young-Spock. Not only does he look like Nimoy, he manages to do his own take on Spock which is spot on.
Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho & Anton Yelchin also do their own takes on the beloved characters and in believable and interesting ways. The iconic theme song is still there if you listen closely or wait until the end, but most of the times Michael Giacchino's score fits into the movie well.
To their credit Abrams & Co, manage to bring back the sometimes witty, sometimes amusing and sometimes antagonistic relationship between the ensemble and manage to throw in a few surprising dynamics. In fact bringing back Nimoy as Spock was great and it was good to see Spock prime with the new characters. Loved it all. I got so lost in the great interactions between the Enterprise crew that I forgot that there was this big bad villain with a really nasty space ship trying to destroy the federation. Which brings me to Nero.
Most reviews of Nero describe him as a tragic character, but unfortunately he doesn't get to do much. Technically he is the most important character in this, a pivotal one, he is the one that caused all this! And yet he lacks the menace of the Borg Queen or the motivation of General Chang or the simple malice of Khan - which makes him one of the most underpowered villains in the Trek universe. This is not necessarily the performance of Eric Bana, a fine actor, but the way he was written.
Overall a great effort on the part of Abrams & Co. For me it was almost a semi-religious experience to see all those characters again, familiar and yet different - and a whole new universe left to re-discover. Go see it if you are a fan, go see it even if you are not a fan, because it is such a great movie in it's own right.
Like Sarek says "You will always be a child of two worlds, and fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is: which path will you choose? " He could well be taking about the new Star Trek. I am excited at the new voyages of the starship Enterprise.