1. A magical, unexplained, and apocolyptically lethal material at the center of the threat is just lazy. Creating scientific implausibilities to fill in the need for dramatic development is standard in sf stories, but for cryin' out loud, give it some internal logical consistency. We know something about black holes these days, so fudging the science on them is a guaranteed way to throw the ohfergodssakegimeeafreakinbreak switch on a person's willingness to suspend disbelief. (Those who care about such things know what I mean. Those who don't should probably read someone else's review.) As attendees of filmic shadow plays, most are happy to be lied to. Frequently, that's why one goes to the theater in the first place. A happy lie, a sad lie, an absurd lie, etc. It's all part of the entertainment gestalt. You can tell me black is white, but there'd better be plausible exposition if you want me to believe it. Failing that, I'll believe whatever you tell me about the colors smyzgetrunleo and bristarglfloss as long as it doesn't keep adapting as needed. Deus ex machina (or diabolis ex machina in this case I suppose) really is all played out, and it seems like lazy writing to me. Get me? Well maybe I'm giving free rein to a glut of pecksniffery, but it bugs me.
2. The antagonist is out to destroy planets full of beings he's never heard of because Spock failed to save Romulus in a timely fashion? It's possible I suppose, but it seems awfully weak in believability and pathetically weak from a dramatic standpoint. There's gotta be more to it, but without knowing what it is, I don't buy it. It needed more development or a different approach. I know he'd probably rather eat a pyramid of Giza sized pile of rancid head cheese chased with a million gallons of sour milk than get attached to the Star Trek franchise again, but this is the sort of thing at which Harlan Ellison excels. I think he could have made the story a truly gut-wrenching piece of drama. As presented, it really was pretty disappointing.
Those two quibbles aside, though, I still enjoyed the film quite a bit. It played, for me, a lot like a TV pilot episode. There was a gratifying amount of character development as well as copious references to past episodes of the various Star Trek series' to keep the general fan population happy. (All right. I probably qualify for the Trekkie category, but what the hell.) It has many fine moments, dramatic and comic, and reaches an admirable thespian standard...for a television series. I feel like there's an alternate time line series somewhere in the future, in movies if not on TV or direct to DVD. If that's the case, bravo. I'll probably be back to see it. As a stand alone event, however, it really needed better writing. It's something from which all of the Star Trek offerings have suffered to a greater or lesser extent, not because good writers did not work with the series, but because they always seem to get restrained somehow and never quite break out of the TV mold. If you want more explanation of this view, the published screen play version of the original series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" by Harlan Ellison delineates the problem better than anything I could say here. It might be interesting to see that made in the alternate universe cast expanded to film length. (Note to the producers: Don't do it without Harlan! I mean it.) Still...I feel I can recommend this movie to you with a clear conscience. It is better than average, and may be (I haven't quite decided yet) the best of the Star Trek films yet made. Industrial Light & Magic certainly went hog wild with it, so it looks astoundingly good. Where they go with it from here will be telling. I am hopeful.