Bold moves with the characters, not just playing dolls with that other cast, so hats off to the crew, set designers included.
Then I have to get somewhat nasty about that Peter Pan Universe in which boys and their toys have a field day, and it's awful. Like I'd be off with them elvynchyx (part Klingon?) and their "Patriarchy Sux" decals, like how does Uhura stand it, come join us on the wild side maybe?
The funniest part is the slow pan into Vulcanville, kid level, hearing all that whispered hypercross stuff ("cubed... squared"), flashing to calculus. Like duh, this is just another stuffy high church, gimme a break. What a scream (great spoofing), these fraudulent "logicians" just more teasy bratfinks, same as on Earth, sayin' stuff about "your mother".
But then, flash to Earth, this Kirk kid is real piece of work in a different way. He has problems with authority yet clings to dear life, leaps before he looks. Not all that "calculating" but "intuitive" in a way guys can get away with and still be called slugger or scooter or whatever.
So where shall we turn for leadership? Why to synergy of course. Throw in a few more wackos and it's a balanced archetype (not, cackle).
We trekkies have have had years to mull over these characters, so the newest versions really hit the ground running. Chekov verges on pre-adolescent, nicely balancing the far older USS boss, who goes with the army he's got.
Anyway, I loved it. There's such wry humor in the sets. Why do people build spaceships with plummeting vistas and no guardrails, floors guaranteed to trip you up? Seems like everyone has those. Hominids: stupid forever yet proud to the bone (loved that "tall face" guy at the bar, seemed to think more the way I did about stuff).
And the inside of the USS Enterprise is like Willy Wonka's on steroids, everything mega-heavy, factory fresh and spanking new because hey, weight is simply not an issue in the 24th Century (like warp drive means "no inertia").
Very tongue in cheek, and like I said, great acting, with wise Spock reminding the two half-brains to keep a channel open, they'll thank him later (and each other).
The final scene: yes, Kirk's a hero (then wakes up in The Matrix?), but those tasteless gray curtains remind us: that life in the Federation can be really dreary and unimaginative... and now pop! here we are, back in school (daydreaming), in Kansas once again.
My favorite effect had to be that Romulan drill though, really ugly and mean, well rendered, smart physics (when they want it, they've got it, go ILM, maybe see ya next Pycon!).
And it's really bold to just call it Star Trek like that, no ifs ands or buts. It's a brand, like Bud is.