I'm going to read through the posts here after putting up my review, so apologies if this is terribly repetitive.
I loved it. Excellent
all the way. I made a point of going into the movie spoiler-free, aside from reading two reviews (Variety and Entertainment Weekly). I went in with an open mind.
Boy, am I glad I did. I'm glad I didn't know about Kirk's father dying in the opening scene--that made me cry. I'm glad I didn't know about Spock getting picked on by a group of Vulcan children--his first line made me laugh. I'm glad I didn't know that Spock and Uhura were together--that made me grin. I'm glad I didn't know that Kirk and Spock would be at each other's throats--literally! That tension made for some surprising and wonderful scenes. I'm glad I didn't know that Kirk would find Scotty on some far away planet, on the most remote of starbases. That made me laugh. I'm glad I didn't know that Young Spock and Old Spock would end up meeting. The way Old Spock spoke about the friendship between himself and Kirk made me tear up.
The movie wasn't perfect--Nero's motivation didn't make a whole lot of sense and he wasn't a particularly compelling bad guy. I admit I'm still not sure how I feel about Vulcan being destroyed. It worked in the movie--it was essential for the movie, even--but as a Trekkie of twenty-some years, that part does pull at the heartstrings more than a little bit.
The casting was brilliant--the actors didn't ape the old performances, but they inhabited the characters in a way that really did them justice. Star Trek's strength has always been its characters, and this movie effectively brought that out. As it should be, the characters are the strongest part of the film. This is a truly great beginning.