In "Star Trek" -- that's right, not Star Trek XI and sans any pendulous subtitle -- we get to see the crew of The Original Series (TOS) as young, rambunctious cadets before they take command of the most famous starship in all of sci-fi. Youth brings such energy to the characters many of us have grown up with. Combine that with CGI and a director who has taken the liberty to reinterpret the canon without messing up its spirit makes for a terrific summer action flick.
Barely out of their teens, Kirk and co. face down a threat from the future led by a maniac who weilds a technology that matches his thirst for genocide. If that was their first mission as cadets, no wonder their subsequent voyages hardly raised a Vulcan eyebrow in comparison.
While this retelling doesn't stinge on all-phasers-firing ship-to-ship battles, the carnage is an extension of the very human need to cope with the pain of loss. All the major participants in this battle have lost someone they hold dear. They either learn to cope and perhaps become stronger for it; or they lose it completely, transferring their pain to others.
It's a great set-up for a story, but the events depicted in this movie will not gel with conventional 'Trek continuity. It is clear that because of people from the future tampering with the past (JJ Abrams being self-referential here?) the timeline has changed, and the young Uhura herself makes a point to state that what this crew is experiencing is indeed an alternate reality.
Yet even in this alternate tale, it's only minor events (if we can consider the destruction of a whole planet as minor) that have been irrevocably changed, but the Enterprise (NCC-1701) and everyone on board remain true to their character. It may be more action-packed no doubt, but it is still a exciting Star Trek story.
Will we get to see more adventures with this new young crew? I'd like that. It's a promising beginning.