For me, the movie was summed up by the exchange between Kirk and Spock before the space jump between the Enterprise and the Vengeance. "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I can do." Kirk begins the movie as an undirected force of nature. He careens from situation to situation without much forethought or care but manages to achieve the impossible due to a potent mixture of intelligence and luck. Pike derides Kirk for not knowing the difference between that aptitude and the luck that had been so kind thus far, but Kirk can't hear Pike because he's never really been faced with consequences to his actions. Spock, on the other hand, has retreated even farther into logic after the destruction of Vulcan and the loss of his mother. As Uhura correctly points out, Spock has become cold and seemingly indifferent about life and death, even though he has people who love and care for him. Like Kirk, Spock has reverted to type but in such an extreme that he is damaging his relationships with Kirk and Uhura: the two people that care for him the most. So, while the first film was about recognizing greatness in Kirk and Spock, this film is about realizing that greatness. Along the way it manages to take a few topical (and fairly on-the-nose) shots at the current administration's drone warfare campaign and the dangers of becoming the darkness that you fight. This is hardly revelatory but it was far less overt than other Trek outings. (I'm looking at you, Undiscovered Country.) The core of this movie is the advancement of the Kirk-Spock bromance and how these two flawed men can, and will, achieve great things together. For me, it worked on every level. It was a stunning action-adventure piece with the kind of scope and attention to detail that thrilled the imagination. I was transported back to my youth because Trek was suddenly as vibrant and real as it was in my mind all those years ago watching reruns of TOS on Saturday mornings. The portrayals of the familiar characters was faithful and true while still feeling fresh. Kirk and Spock's bickering, Bones' charming curmudgeonly nature and Scotty's exasperated comic relief all invoked a sense of humanity that has been sorely lacking in the old guard of Trek. And because it was a thrilling adventure, populated by real people who had motivations and desires, the penultimate scene and Kirk's sacrifice felt earned and affecting. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Star Trek film.