The designer part of me was interested in some of the choices they made too. The more industrial design of the ships was nice..what baffled me is that they went to that effort, then had the pointless tubing. Contrast the more 'advanced' ships. One was very sleek and shiny and indicative of both the culture and its mission the other was sinister while somehow remaining very gritty despite supposedly being advanced. Of course, I'm curious what a ship of its supposed designation needed with some of it's bits and pieces, but I can get over that. Its meant to convey an image. As a fan, however, I'm not particularly sure I like what they're doing with the Romulan race from a story point of view, but enh.
I liked how they made transporter tech still pretty rough compared to say, TNG type transporter stuff where it happened in the blink of an eye. I even liked how they managed to convey the way the interfaces were going, without well, going there. They even managed to fit in a bit about how warp 4 was zomg amazing.
I had hoped to maybe find some of the actors from the original ST, or even the spinoffs in cameos, but didn't catch any (other than the obvious, of course). Speaking of which, when Mr. Nimoy voiced over the STNG intro speech at the end of the movie? Chills down my back.
The new actors? Okay, let's just get this out of the way. I liked them all. They gave their respective characters their particular flavour (Uhura was just this side of whiplash, Spock had humanity - Live Long and Prosper, and by that I mean Fuck Off and Die, Kirk was a bright kid with nothing to lose except to prove to himself, Chekov - I can do that!, etc) while evoking the references we all expected them to do. I even liked the preponderance of extras going about doing their thing. They took that bit from STNG obviously, but it made everything seem more real.
I think if I had to pick a character I enjoyed most, portrayal wise, I'd pick Bones. I loved the reason they gave for calling him Bones, as well as the way he supported and tolerated Kirk. Spock was fantastic though, it's a hard decision. Scotty was youthful exuberance, and obviously the actor was just thrilled beyond measure to be able to portray that role, because it had so much elan.
I was sad the sword scene had this really cool flip, but then was else wise very light on any actual real sword work. They boffed that. Kirk could fight, but was a brawler (I approve!) while Spock was all surgical precision. I do think Kirk deserved to win a fight.
The Pike story line had to be changed for the movie of course, as did details of Kirks life (as far as I'm aware, since they didn't bother focusing on anyone other than say Spock, which they got pretty spot on, the other characters they more or less inducted with non fanfare), and of course as I stated, not sure that I enjoy the 'let's change the Romulans' thing that the scriptwriters seem hell bent on, but I don't mind it either. The inclusion of the mind control theme was, I suppose something that shows up a lot in Star Trek in lots of various ways, but I wasn't too pleased by it. Other than those caveats (well the red matter stuff was random, given ST's usual we try to pull from reality shtick), I don't mind any of the history rewrites they did. I'm willing to let them spin their story arc and see how it goes. After all, I'm hoping they do a sequel since they neatly left themselves open.
Oh and I did not like the constant and needless lens flaring. But the special effects were quite neat.
Something I should also mention is just how much presence Mr. Nimoy can have on screen. I don't know if it's just because he epitomizes all that is Star Trek when he plays the role, or if it's because he believes in the message that Mr. Roddenberry was trying to convey (or perhaps because we, the audience, or I the watcher WANT to believe), or if it's just because he's that Damned Good of an Actor, but whatever it is, he was riveting every time he opened his mouth. The weight of history both as the character Spock, in the universe that contains him, and a role that defined him as much as he defined it, give us a context for the message he as a character was trying to give to the movie.
Perhaps I'm just shocked by how much that world and that message still mean to the little boy who was inspired by them to strive to be better and to know that reaching out for the unknown is its own reward.