Director J. J. Abrams did a great job of keeping from us who the villain really was, until late in the film, and the mixed question of who's really the villain here, them or us. One wonders if this isn't speaking to the USA and the Middle-East?
Being a lifelong fan of the series, I was pleasantly pleased to see the references to the old series. When Kirk and crew are headed to the shuttle craft, Sulu calls for Shuttle Bay 2 "Please have the trade ship that we confiscated during the Mudd incident last month fueled and ready." I really hope to see Harcourt Fenton Mudd at some point during the new franchise of films, as he was one of the few recurring characters, having appeared in two episodes of the original series and one animated series episode, he could have been the blueprint for Lucas's Hon Solo too.
The action is continuous throughout the film and at one point, about an hour forty-five in, I thought we were pretty much done. A reversal of the Wrath of Khan death scene seemed a fitting end to the film, but Abrams had one more action sequence up his sleeve. And Spock went on an emotionally charged chase and hand-to-hand battle with the enemy.
One of the many themes woven into the film is that Kirk is still trying to find his way, and needs to learn to trust others around him. He doesn't trust Scotty's good judgement and relieves him of duty, turns out Scotty was right. As a captain he has a great crew, he just needs to trust them, instead of trying to do it all himself.