Mr. Scott says he had a transporter mishap with "Admiral Archer's prized beagle". The series Star Trek: Enterprise with Archer was set around 100 years before the events of the movie. The Scotty scene takes place in 2258. Enterprise was set in 2151-2155 meaning Archer would be around 140-150 years old. Star Trek writer Roberto Orci went on record to clear up the issue: "Admiral Archer is a reference to the Archer we all know and love, from the TV series and yes he would be over 100, which is a likely life expectancy in a futuristic space faring race of humans" (as depicted by McCoy in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Encounter at Farpoint.)
When young Kirk is driving his step father's Corvette and listening to him on the cell phone, you can hear the sound of gears being shifted but his hands never leave the steering wheel. This could not be accomplished on a manual shift Corvette.
During Spock and Kirk's fight on the bridge, Spock slams Kirk into one of the bridge consoles, which makes a cracking sound like it had been broken by Kirk's impact. When the console is shown again, there is no damage.
When young Jim Kirk releases the convertible top of the Corvette, it flies away with the sound of flexing sheet metal. Since the roof is made of cloth and steel beams, the sheet metal sound effect is incorrect.
When Captain Pike is talking to Kirk in the bar, he says "You understand what the Federation is, don't you? It's important. It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada." However, here he is describing Starfleet and not the Federation. The Federation is an interplanetary government like the United States (a Federal form of government), while Starfleet is the "peacekeeping and humanitarian" force.
The female Vulcan Minister is smiling as she stands up at Spock's entrance hearing for the Science Academy. While humans and other emotionally expressive humanoids may smile in order to convey support or reassurance, Vulcans do not. Further, since this meeting was taking place ON Vulcan, it would be seen as a grossly inappropriate display of emotion.
When Spock requests permission to come on the bridge, he says, "Permission to come aboard, Captain." He is in fact already on board the Enterprise. Protocol requires that he should have requested permission to be allowed on the command bridge, as he is not a command officer nor bridge personnel at that moment.
After Spock boards the Vulcan ship on board the mining vessel, Kirk is seen walking through some pipes. His Starfleet phaser has switched to a Romulan gun (longer barrel and no lights), before switching back to the Starfleet one again in the next scene. He actually acquires the Romulan gun a few scenes later.
The Starfleet logo, the distinctive "arrow-head" that featured on all the teasers, was originally intended by the production designers of the original Star Trek series to be the "assignment patch" for crew on the Enterprise only. This was reflected on-screen by the use of different patches for different ships or posts. The use of the arrowhead insignia on the Kelvin, before Nero arrives in the past, is therefore a continuity error since history had not yet been altered.
In the opening scene, when Captain Robau of the Kelvin says "Polarize the view screen" you can see he is wearing a Starfleet badge. As he turns and sits down in the captains chair, it has disappeared, but returns again in the next scene.
When Sulu reaches down to rescue Kirk after the fight scene on the drill platform, Kirk is holding on to the edge with his right hand, leaving his left hand free to grasp onto Sulu and be pulled up to safety. However, in the scene immediately following, Sulu is holding Kirk's right hand, while he is clinging to the platform with his left.
When Captain Robau is shown at the beginning of the film, the Starfleet insignia on his uniform disappears and reappears again as Robau enters the bridge and sits in his chair. It also happens again when the Narada emerges and attacks the Kelvin.
After the Narada comes through the black hole the next shot shows the bridge of the Kelvin and the red alert klaxon is playing. Next, the helmsman says "I have a reading, they've locked weapons on us." The captain then announces red alert even though the klaxon is already playing.
When Sarek is speaking to young Spock, the child has a split lip with the suggestion of green blood. Yet you can see the red vasculature of Spock's ears due to the back lighting. Since Vulcans have copper based blood, there should've been a "green" tint to the ears, not red as is typical of Iron based human blood. Even with Spock being half human and half Vulcan, there is no way any being would have two distinctly different blood bases.
When the crew is discussing the plan to beam aboard Nero's ship, Ensign Chekov states that, in order to arrive in time, they will need Mr. Scott to get them to Warp factor 4; however, the HUD on the view-screen behind the group clearly shows the ship to already be traveling at a speed in excess of Warp 4.3.
When Chekov is briefing the crew on his plan to catch up to the Narada, there is a close-up shot of Bones turned to his left listening with Sulu standing off to his left side. The next shot of everybody standing around shows Bones angled more to the right and Sulu is behind him.
When the USS Kelvin is attacked by the Narada, the front half of the saucer section suffers a lot of damage. However, when Ayel appears on the viewscreen after the attack, there is no damage or debris to the saucer section as seen through the windows of the bridge.
When McCoy and Kirk board a shuttle headed for the Enterprise, there are nacelles visible on the bottom of the hull. However, when it pulls out to reveal the Enterprise in orbit, the nacelles are on the top of the hull.
When Kirk, McCoy and Uhura rush onto the bridge to inform the captain that they are racing into a Romulan trap, Kirk runs towards the captain and Uhura runs to stand right next to Spock. When the camera angle changes, Uhura is not standing next to Spock but about 5 feet to the left of him.
During the space jump, Chekov reports the away team's altitude every few seconds. His first report gives an altitude of about 20,000 meters, however, the head-up display in front of him shows an altitude of over 100,000 meters. The away team's descent could not possibly have covered about 80,000 meters in such a short period of time. Later reports in the scene show the altitude to be more accurate.
When the Narada first attacks the Enterprise upon its arrival at Vulcan, its missiles impact the Enterprise on the Port (left) side of the "neck" connecting the Primary (saucer) and Secondary (Engineering) hulls. However, when Kirk is ejected onto Delta Vega from an airlock in the same general area where the missile impact occurred, there is no sign of any battle damage.
Kirk goes from being an Academy cadet (literally, since there's nothing to show he actually graduated) to commissioned Captain of the Enterprise in the course of only a few days. While his actions would have merited recognition of some kind, granting him his own command at such an early stage of his career would be unreasonably excessive.
During the space jump scene, the three parachute divers are seen gravitating to the planet at great speed. With regard to the two giant ships floating steadily nearby, this is illogical as obviously distance towards the planet is still too big for gravity being effective at such extend that it would cause such great speed.
When Uhura walks in on Kirk and Gaila, she says, "I've been working on solar systems." While we refer to our own star system as "The Solar System", it is not in the least bit incorrect to refer to any other star system as "a solar system". The difference is in the use of "The" as opposed to "A". A "solar system" is simply a planetary system that orbits a star and so Uhura is quite correct in her wording.
Chekov's Russian accent is sometimes perceived to have a major flaw in it. In Russian, there is no "W" sound, but there is a very, very common "V" sound (although heavily rounded with shades of "w"). As a result of this, his labored way of transforming his V's into W's might seem incorrect, but when speaking English, native Russian speakers will sometimes transpose V's and W's, e.g. "Ve are wery happy to be here". (A similar phenomenon is seen in speakers of Asian languages that possess only either "L" or "R", when speaking in English will often transpose them: "really" becomes "leary".) In any event, this is clearly a nod to Walter Koenig's portrayal of Chekov in the original Star Trek series and most notably in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, when Chekov is seen in 20th Century San Francisco asking for directions to "nuclear wessels".
In the fight on the drill's platform, which is at an extremely high altitude, Kirk and Sulu remove their helmets. On Earth, humans would find it very difficult to breathe at that height without supplemental oxygen; in Trek mythology, Vulcan's atmosphere is thinner than Earth's. It was an acceptable practice, when visiting or residing on Vulcan, to receive an injection of a Tri-ox compound to assist in breathing (Star Trek: Amok Time). Knowing that they would be fighting on Vulcan at a high altitude, it seems logical that the away team would be given a similar injection (considering McCoy's penchant for injecting Kirk on the fly), though it was not shown on screen.
When Kirk convinces Pike and Spock that they are heading into a trap as they warp towards Vulcan, Kirk refers to '47 Klingon Warbirds destroyed by Romulans.' Though "Warbirds" are usually Romulan vessels within the Star Trek canon, the same name has been used for Klingon vessels even in the original timeline, e.g. in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk mentions a Federation/Romulan War many years previously. The war was conducted through starship battles and the treaty for it was negotiated via subspace radio, so Romulans and Federation citizens never saw each other prior to that point in time. This means that the Federation knew about the Romulans and general background information about their ships (what radio frequencies were used, power signatures, etc.) long before the scene with the USS Kelvin in the movie which resulted in altering later history.
The "Enterprise" is referred to as Star Fleet's new flagship. While in current naval tradition a flagship requires an admiral on board, Starfleet has been established as having a premier starship referred to as a "flagship." In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Enterprise 1701-D was referred to as the Flagship of the Federation.
According to the writers, the new Stardate system has the year and the decimal points indicate the day (i.e. Stardate 2258.42 is February 11, 2258). However, at the beginning of the film, Captain Robau says the Stardate is "twenty-two thirty-three zero four". This does not fit into the new system, as he only gives one placeholder zero instead of two or none (it should have been Stardate 2233.4).
However, the Stardate system is essentially separating the two numbers. 2233.0000004 would have been correct. But if you want to hold them to a standard, then every Stardate should be four digits, then three, meaning every Stardate in the movie is wrong. This means the Captain was correct.
Uhura claims to be able to speak three dialects of Romulan. It has been established that relations between the Romulans and the Federation have never been friendly and that the only contact was to negotiate a peace. However, there's no reason to presume that their unfriendliness precluded either side learning the other's language somehow. There would be an immense tactical, political, and diplomatic advantage to figuring it out. (It is quite reasonable that, despite the conflict, one side would learn the other's language. In Star Trek: The Enterprise Incident, while Romulan Commander Liliana Charvanek is speaking with Captain Kirk, she remarks, "Your language has always been most difficult for me, Captain," implying that they are not employing the Universal Translator, which must mean that she has studied and mastered English.)
During Chekov's announcement to the crew during the voyage to Vulcan, he leans over to his left (towards Sulu) when talking about the "lightning storm in space." When Kirk replays the footage of this, Chekov shifts and leans slightly to his right (what would be away from Sulu, if from the viewpoint of the view screen) during this line. The replay of Chekov is reversed, as shown by the location of Captain Pike's knee behind Chekov. In the live version, Pike's knee is correctly on the audience's right. In the replay, Pike's black pant leg is seen on the left. Thus the replay of the video is correct.
When Spock travels 129 years into the past via temporal black hole, he should have arrived in the past of THAT time-line, not in the alternate time-line created by Nero's actions. Thus, Nero never would have captured Spock Prime, stolen the Red Matter, and used it to destroy Vulcan. Instead, he would have been stuck in an alternate past that he had created while Spock traveled along the prime time-line back to an unaltered point in history. However, earlier Star Trek episodes and movies often show "glitches" in changed time lines, with characters being aware that something is wrong or even being unaffected by the change at all.
When Chekov beams Kirk and Sulu onto the transporter pad from their free-fall, they hit the pad hard enough to send (badly animated) shards from the pad into the air, as well as cracking noises. However, when the pad is shown again, there is no damage whatsoever.
The shards from the pad are actually the transporter beams "breaking" apart as they hit the floor. While there is a distinct breaking sound, one can assume that this is the noise of the beams as this hasn't happened before nor has it happened again (yet).
The movie's universe diverges from the familiar Star Trek universe in 2233, when Nero arrived in the past, many details of character behavior, technology, terminology, alien culture, etc., were changed.
There are no mountain ranges anywhere in Iowa, yet one appears clearly visible behind Kirk while approaches the Starfleet base to join up.
However, on the DVD/Blu-ray's additional content, the filmmakers are actually aware of this, and joke about "the geography in the future" being different.
Once Nero realizes that he has time traveled into the past, rather than attacking the Kelvin, he should simply have warned Starfleet of the impending supernova so that work on the red matter device could be expedited (especially now that they HAVE red matter on board and no longer need to invent it all over again) to prevent the tragedy from happening the first time, thus saving his planet and all involved by getting the red matter device there on time, or relocating the population to another planet long before the supernova. The entire movie becomes redundant the moment Nero is told what the star date is.
In the opening scene, as the Kelvin bridge crew is trying to analyze the anomaly, one of the bridge crew is speaking with Star Fleet Headquarters and asks, "Whatever this is, could this be Klingon? Repeat, could this be Klingon?" The response from the Star Fleet Officer is, "Negative, Lieutenant, you're 75,000 kilometers from..." 75,000 km is less than the distance between the Earth and moon.
Characters are seen taking the turbo-lift DOWN to the engineering deck of the USS Kelvin. However the exterior shots clearly show the engineering hull is ABOVE the saucer section, where the bridge etc. is located.
When Kirk is making out with Uhura's green skinned roommate Gaila, you can see green make-up on the front of his boxers (and a little on his skin above the boxers) when he first lifts himself from on top of her for some dialog. After the scene cuts to another camera angle and then back to Kirk, the green coloring is no longer visible on Kirk.
When Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Romulan vessel Spock leans down to perform a mind meld on one of the fallen Romulans. You can clearly see Spock's right hand with a deep scratch revealing RED blood as opposed to green.
When Spock materializes on Vulcan as it is being destroyed to get the elders an earth style aircraft can be seen crossing the sky from right to left. While it isn't clear which commercial air crafts Vulcan's generally use they presumably don't look like a Boeing 747.
At Kirk's Academy trial, Spock says the purpose of the Kobayashi Maru test is to instill fear. This is illogical at best and delusional at worst if one considers what everyone knows about the test; it's essentially a big video game designed to ensure those who play it will lose. If nobody actually dies or gets hurt and the actual universe isn't affected by the results, what's to be afraid of? Also, since everyone KNOWS the test makes the players fail, nobody even feels any anxiety about succeeding. This also helps to explain the lackadaisical attitude of those in the simulation, as nobody sees a real need to take it seriously.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
Kirk's statement to the crew that Spock had resigned his commission was incorrect. He was not giving up his rank of Commander, he was stepping down as Captain of the ship. At the end when he is talking to Spock Prime about leaving Starfleet, then he would have resigned his commission.
When Spock enters the Bridge to become Kirk's first officer in the final scene (after Kirk relieves Pike), he steps off the Turbolift and steps behind a glossy panel. The panel reflects the face of one of the bridge crew: a woman whose red hair is bound up in a weird bun-like do. In the reflection her shirt is red. When the camera switches to the full bridge view, she is wearing blue.
During the awards ceremony, several flags can be seen in the background, including what appears to be the state flag of California. Towards the end of the sequence, the point of view shifts to Spock Prime viewing from a balcony, and the flags are changed to Federation and Starfleet flags.
When Spock Prime is contacted by Nero following the destruction of Romulus, Nero's appearance is not the appearance of a normal Romulan from that time line. Instead Nero already has the facial tattoos and shaved head consistent with the Romulan mourning ritual, although Nero and his crew should not have performed this ritual until after the attack on the Kelvin - in which the Romulan appearance should also be original time-line appearance.
This is often thought to be a mistake, but the events that take place in the original time line circa 2387 that are described in Spock Prime's mind meld take place over the course of several months and are told out of order in the mind meld - an effort by the filmmakers to simplify the exposition for a general audience. This effort to simplify the exposition leads these type of confusions. Romulus was actually destroyed while Spock Prime was on Vulcan trying to convince the Vulcan government of the threat and that his plan to collapse the super nova with Red Matter would work (and that the whole supernova thing wasn't part of a Romulan/Federation Cold War ploy). After Romulus was destroyed, the Jellyfish ship and the plan was set in motion. The collapse of the supernova happened weeks after the destruction of Romulus (during which time Nero and his crew got the mourning tattoos, had his ship refitted to become the monster ship with the Borg technology that is seen in the film, battled 24th century Starfleet and Klingon fleets, etc.). Another thing that is unclear in the film is that after collapsing the supernova, Ambassador Spock created a second smaller black hole that he modified into a temporal vortex through which he intended to travel to go back in time a few months and collapse the Hobus star before it ever went nova and thus save Romulus; however, before his small ship was pulled into the temporal vortex by its gravity, Nero arrived and his ship being of larger mass was pulled in first. Nero's ship not having been a part of Ambassador Spock's calculations completely comprised the intended effect and Nero traveled back in time 154 years and Ambassador Spock ended up traveling back 129 years (into the altered time-line).
Chekov obtained transporter lock on Kirk and Sulu because the transponders in their communicators helped him lock onto their biosignal, which was moving at a predictable velocity. However, losing transporter lock on Spock's mother was a different story. Whether from the lack of communicators or Vulcan's unique geology, transporter lock on the Science Council was only possible above ground. Unlike with Kirk and Sulu, her fall was a complete surprise, and her biosignal was masked by interference from the cliff walls and the debris engulfing her body. In addition, while Amanda clearly demonstrated that people can move within the field of a transport in progress, she literally fell out of the transport-in-progress's field when the cliff collapsed. She was already being molecularly disassembled for transport. Compare this to Kirk and Sulu's transport; in that instance, Kirk and Sulu were already in motion and Chekov was already working on maintaining the lock while Kirk and Sulu were transported aboard.
In the final "Spock on Spock" scene, you can see the obvious height difference between the two. Young Spock should be the same height as old Spock. However, Vulcan biology is not fully understood and this could simply be a natural physical change. Additionally, this is consistent with human physiology. Old Spock is 120 years older than young Spock so it is natural that young Spock is taller. As humans age, their spines become more curved and the cartilage in between the vertebrae become more compacted; hence they tend to be shorter. This height difference can be quite considerable so a handful of inches is really not unusual. In addition, it should also be noted that both the actors, Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, both stand the exact same height in real life, 6'1". So the height difference on-screen could be intentional, to show the aging of Older Spock.
When Nero is accused of genocide after destroying Vulcan, he responds that he is trying to prevent it. He knows he has gone back in time, and he has the red matter, which he knows can destroy the supernova. He also knows from his own actions that it's possible to change the time line he is from. If he truly wants to prevent genocide, why does he not go to the star and eliminate it decades before it can destroy Romulus? This is in part because Nero also states that he wishes to eliminate the Federation since it is the primary nemesis of Romulus. Nero may have decided to destroy the Federation before saving his home world, since the supernova is not scheduled to take place for a hundred years. (It should also be noted that Nero is not exactly a picture of mental health, after having witnessed the destruction of his entire planet, travelling through a black hole and spending upwards of 25 years in prison, plotting revenge. Therefore any logical flaws in what he says can always just be put down to his tenuous grip on sanity.)
Spock Prime is surprised that Kirk is not yet Captain of the Enterprise. In his time line, he served under Captain Pike's command of the Enterprise for ten years, and Kirk became Captain after that time. He should know that Kirk is too young to be Captain. However Spock may not know the actual date yet - so far he's been abducted by Nero and abandoned on a planet near Vulcan, and although he's aware of a nearby Starfleet outpost, he's not been there yet.
The Romulan ship managed to reach Earth and start drilling without Starfleet attacking because the primary fleet was in the Laurentian system, and only 7 ships were sent to Vulcan because they were all the available ships. Additionally, Captain Pike was forced to give Starfleet defense codes when the slug was attached to his brain stem. When Nero arrived at Earth, he was able to do so without alerting any Earth defenses.
Some viewers have commented that the Nero/Spock confrontation that sends them through the black hole occurred immediately following the destruction of Romulus. The comic series "Star Trek: Countdown" makes it clear that there was a time passage of around a week or so, during which Nero upgraded his ship significantly with BORG technology as part of his revenge scheme. Although comic co-writer Mike Johnson considers Countdown to be canon, screenwriter Robert Orci has stated he is no position to declare whether it is, though he feels it could be considered canon unless it is contradicted in a later film or TV episode. However, he has since implied that it was not canon.
When the Kelvin encountered the Narada, the latter was emerging from a black hole, thus the "lightning storm in space". Before it started to attack Vulcan, there was another "lightning storm in space"; this was the arrival of Spock Prime's vessel, the Jellyfish.
When Nero activates the drill over San Francisco, we see Starfleet Academy and many cadets going outside to look at the drill. However, it was established earlier in the film that all cadets were ordered to ships in orbit. Therefore, there shouldn't have been any cadets at Starfleet Academy at that moment.