The ear scene is certainly more memorable, but I always felt the hanging, tortured, bloody bodies onboard Regula One was the most gruesome image in the film.
Whatever the case, I don't think it's important to argue about it. One is a steady diet of destruction, the other has actually gone to a world that wasn't facing annihilation. There's nothing hopeful about people dying. There is
something hopeful about creating a new life at the end of the Motion Picture. It was simply misguided, not vengeful and hate-filled. It didn't fully understand the universe and how destructive it was. These may sound like semantics, but they're embodying the tone difference between STID's hopeless story and everything else.
As for whoever said "Star Trek has always been violent, why shouldn't it continue?" I think it's important to remember that motivations make a huge difference. It's the difference between someone going to jail (I tried to murder him) and not (the gun just went off; no malicious intent). And I am talking about the antagonist of the movie. Star Trek, the original series movies, managed to vary it up a little. This probe is looking for whales, not try to destroy earth. This Captain is looking for the ultimate weapon. This Captain wants more power by killing Kirk.
What has ST '09 and STID done? Revenge. It's so much a part of STID that we show 3 or 4 characters lashing out when they are wronged. That's not very hopeful, and a reason why I wouldn't show the movies to someone. The adults I know would become sickened by it, and the children I know would emulate it.