It’s difficult to explain exactly how Abrams pulled it off without giving away too much of the story, but suffice to say that it involves time travel, and a bad guy who wants to change his particular slice of history - but cares little about how changing his slice will impact the rest of the universe. He’s got a bug up his butt about Mr. Spock, he doesn’t much care for Captain Kirk, and he’s charismatic enough to make the conflict one that people will care about.
The movie gives new meaning to the term “breakneck pace” – it never lets up for a moment, and the action feels gratuitous in only one part – when Kirk finds himself stranded on an ice planet, and encounters a number of nasty little (and otherwise) creatures. Of necessity, much of the movie is devoted to set-up, and it’s easy to imagine that a sequel could be created that is richer in story but less heavy on the action.
As for the actors, they all acquit themselves well. Chris Pine makes a great Jim Kirk, Zachary Quinto is good enough to stand up to the inevitable comparisons to Leonard Nimoy (whose part in the movie is much bigger than I expected), Zoe Saldana lends a sense of depth to Uhura that Nichelle Nichols was rarely allowed to explore, and Karl Urban manages to develop a McCoy that is both homage to DeForest Kelley’s original and at the same time his own. The rest of the cast doesn’t have quite as much screen time, but kudos to all (even if Chekov’s accent is a little strong). I just hope that they give Simon Pegg (as Scotty) a little more to do in the next one!
All in all, a great effort and a great show – especially in IMAX!