This was a whole hell of a lot better than Trek XI was, that's for damn sure. This actually feels like Star Trek, or more Trek like than XI was anyway. The characters are a lot better handled this time around, Kirk and Spock actually reminded me of Shatner and Nimoy a few times, most notably the conversation about being happy.
Scotty was better balanced this time around. While I understand when you cast an actor like Simon Pegg you want to take advantage of his comedic talent, it is nice this time they managed to have give the character a more serious aspect. They managed to perfectly blend the seriousness of the character Doohan played with the humour Pegg brought to it in a way which works and fits the character perfectly. Hell, I kind of wish we could have gotten more of him and Keenser at a nightclub on Earth, that was a cool scene.
I still don't get why Chekov was made chief engineer. Yes, they handwave this away by saying he'd been training under Scotty, but still, he's probably the youngest officer on the Enterprise, and everyone else in engineering has more experience as engineers and officers than he does. It just seemed odd. It's nice they cut back on the V/W reversal this time.
Sulu, Uhura, and McCoy were under-utilized. Oh sure, they each had key scenes and were awesome in what they had, but I don't know. I guess there isn't really enough for everyone.
Cumberbatch does an awesome job as Khan. Despite obvious differences, he perfectly captures Ricardo Montalban's essence and makes his portrayal of the role unique to hiimself. Though I have to complain about casting a white guy in the role. Star Trek is well known for diversity among ethnicities. Hell, it's one of the things its famous for. It's kind of a smack in the face to take a character who is supposed to be Indian, and was originally played by a Latino actor and cast a white guy in the role. I can let it slide since Cumberbatch is perfect in the role, but really. It's especially bad since Abrams Trek doesn't really have very man non-white prominent characters. Or rather, Trek XI didn't (just Uhura, Sulu, Captain Robau and Tyler Perry). STID at least did feature more non-white characters, minor though most of them were.
I've made this complaint before, but really, the USS Vengeance has no subtletly to it at all. It's big, black, scary looking, armed to the teeth. Aside from Admiral Marcus, its crew are big, muscular guys who are scary-looking thugs. It has a masculine voice as opposed to the feminine one that is the Starfleet norm. And to make matters completely ridiculous, when it first shows up, there's a sound effect which sounds like Darth Vader's breathing. It might as well be flying a banner labelling it "Bad Guy's Ship."
Just what was up with the uniforms worn by the Vengeance crew anyway? It's been suggested that Vengeance is supposed to be a stealth ship, so one might say it's to cover up they're Starfleet. But then Marcus still has Admiral's stripes on his uniform, so that defeats the purpose. I suppose it's possible they're supposed to be Section 31 uniforms, and if so they should have just kept the black leather from DS9.
Kirk's death scene was far too derivitive of Spock's death scene from TWOK. It's practically a reenactment, down to every last detail. The only thing missing is an elderly Chinese guy in engineering for Spock to bump into as he runs in. And when it's all done and Spock screaming "KHAN!!!" is just too much.
But yeah, I actually enjoyed this one. This is Star Trek, not that idiotic mess they slapped together in 2009.
Other complaints and nitpicks:
-I can't stand this obsession Abrams has with everyone constantly talking over each other. It was grating in Trek XI and beyond annoying here. I think this time it got to me more than the lens flares.
-Exactly why did it need to be Khan's blood used to resurrect Kirk? Couldn't any of the Augments provide a blood sample, like say, oh I don't know, they guy they took out of a pod so they could put Kirk in stasis?
-On a similar note, Khan is immune to the Vulcan neck pinch. Spock successfully used it against an Augment in Space Seed.
-For that matter, Khan is too invincible. In TWOK having the Reliant's bridge fall apart on him seemed to have him done in enough that he just threw in the towel. Yet he's on board a starship which crashes into a city and he literally walks away from it essentially unscathed.
-The Tribble breathing just looked weird.