Now that I have seen it on Blu-ray I think I can finally make a better assessment, and I give it an A. I'm not sure if I like it better than 2009 or not. Basically, it boils down to this:
- Into Darkness was a stronger film overall. A strong message, stronger characterization, stronger emotional resonance and a more interesting story overall. Now that the characters are acquainted with each other, you see them actually relate to each other as a team, and as I've always said, THIS camaraderie is what makes Star Trek. Star Trek lies and stands on character interaction and this movie delivers in spades! The only character I wished they did more with was Chekov, but he was pretty decent too.
- On the other hand, ironically enough, 2009 had more pew pew! I really wish we had more action in this movie, as I couldn't get enough of what we already had. Every action scene was exhilarating!
Huh, I guess I do like Into Darkness better overall. So there's that!
Other things I noted:
- The death scene was surprisingly less of a direct lift from TWOK than I thought. The script flowed smoothly and naturally, and a person who had not watched TWOK would not feel anything was left out of place. Even Spock's scream felt natural, and definitely more warranted than Kirk's in TWOK.
- Quinto and Pine seem to have great chemistry! I grew to really appreciate them as Spock and Kirk.
- I'm loving the diverse Enterprise crew! It's almost like I could tell who's on the bridge by the end of the movie and the faces became very recognizable.
- Man, the Enterprise is a beautiful ship in HD. I'm loving the shots we got in this outing, definitely more eye candy compared to before.
- Carol Marcus is a much better character than I remembered. She's competent, confident and brave. I look forward to her being part of the main crew.
- I love the emphasis of Starfleet as explorers. Although that's more of a TNG-era thing than TOS (especially the movies), it's something I always liked about Trek.
- The Carol Marcus underwear scene is still totally unnecessary in my opinion, but it stood out much less than I remember. It didn't bother me too much.
- Sadly the warp from Kronos to Earth seems to more obviously take just minutes than I remembered. This is fine, since I can come up with some headcanon, but the most obvious interpretation would be that the trip took mere minutes. Still not a dealbreaker.
All in all, a terrific viewing the second time, over an already amazing first viewing. Yeah, I think I can confidently place this as my second favourite Trek film of all. Due to admitted nostalgia lenses, nothing beats Wrath of Khan for me, but in time, this is close.