Let's start by confessing that I am a Trekker; I'm a Classic Trek girl, and in the Kirk vs. Picard content, Kirk wins - I suspect it is always your first Captain of the Enterprise that keeps your heart. But, I've seen every episode of every show, all the movies (and the animated series). I mourned Spock's death in The Wrath of Khan; rejoiced when he returned in The Search for Spock, and cried when Kirk died in Generations. The release of a new film, with a new Kirk caused some trepidation, but I eagerly saw this film in the theatres the first weekend it opened in 2009 (I was in Hawaii for a business trip, and was hunting for a theatre from the minute I arrived). At the time, I was concerned at a new actor taking on the role of my beloved James Tiberius Kirk, but Leonard Nimoy was appearing as Spock, and I had faith he would not appear in a film that trashed the long heritage of Gene Roddenberry.
Ultimately, Chris Pine won me over. He's not the Kirk of the series - nor should he be, as this is a Kirk who's early life is much different than the character played by William Shatner. This Kirk's life was disrupted by a change in the time continuum - his life inexorably altered by the death of the father who should have been with him until adulthood. And though all of our favorite characters end up at Starfleet, their lives are all made drastically different by the intrusion of a Romulan ship from the future, which appears, wreaks havoc for a short time, then disappears for 25 years.
There is no question that it is hard to remake/redo/reboot (pick your favorite verb) a beloved series. Even when the original cast returns, can the magic in the bottle be found to again return the fans to the joy the felt with the original? The first Star Trek movie (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979) was not an unqualified success, and it took several years for Star Trek: The Next Generation to find its feet. This film manages to succeed, and also to reference the iconic series that preceded it. One scene that still elicits applause from fans is Kirk's first view of the Enterprise. The scene references a similar scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture: the ship hovers in space; it is moving and exciting, even though there is almost no movement. The ship symbolizes the missions that will follow, but also the missions that we recall from the Enterprise's "past" - the series and movies that have occurred on this iconic craft. These are, after all, the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise, not of one particular character.
I'm particularly fond of Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. This film provides us with some backstory regarding their meeting, and retains some of the history that we learned in the original television show - that McCoy was somewhat older than the rest of the recruits, that he's not really taken with space travel, but has just gone through a messy divorce, and Star Fleet seems like his only alternative. DeForest Kelley, the original Bones, gave us a curmudgeon that Urban gleefully honors in his portrayal - it is an homage to Kelley; at the same time Urban provides his vision of the character. It was also a pleasure to me that Majel Barrett's voice was again used for the computer - Ms. Barrett has supplied a voice or appeared in nearly every Star Trek iteration, until her death in 2008.
Also, the film finally provides Uhura (Zoe Saldana) with a given name. Fans chose the name Nyota many years ago (similarly, Sulu was called Hikaru - a name that was adopted officially in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, when Captain Sulu announces himself). The film also bring back to us the much beloved character of Spock, both as his young self (Zachary Quinto) and as the older Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Both are excellent, playing a role that is essentially the same person, but are individuals whose lives have created two distinct personalities. Around the time the film came out, the two actors did an advertisement for a car that is absolutely hysterical, and can be found on YouTube.
I started this post with a mention of the event which brought us to this particular screening. I'm going to close with this video production of the score of the film. There is nothing to compare with seeing a film on a big screen, except having a live orchestra playing the music as the film rolls by. And the majesty of space travel is well served in this filming of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future.