I saw this for the second time last night (the first being at the cinema when it came out).- It was actually seeing these Phase II episodes that got me in the mood for it.
I hated it the first time I saw it, but this time I was trying my best to maintain an open mind and not to examine the obvious problems too closely.
I found it better this time than before. It's just about OK, but I wouldn't say it was good. There were too many things that bothered me. Any one or two of these problems alone would have been fine, but together, there were just too many of them (most of which have already been discussed).
If I had to describe the film in one word, it would probably be "bland". It just sort of happened, like a slideshow of disconnected images; just when you find one you like it morphs into something else.
There was no emotion. Never once did it make me feel happy, sad, anxious, nostalgic or scared. It just about held my interest until about 20 mins before the end when I realised I was bored. Enough already I though, just finish it.
The other main failing was a complete lack of chemistry between the characters. Kirk and Spock are supposed to be best friends; as close as it is possible to be in a non-sexual way. Yet in this film they were literally at each other's throats. I can understand wanting to start off that way, but by about half way through they really should have been at least getting along.
I think most people would agree that the main charm of TOS was the three-way relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Any film with those characters in needed to incorporate that, but here it was completely absent. I understand that they don't know each other yet and so on, but that should have been one of the goals of the film; getting them to know each other so that by the end, they had established that iconic relationship.
There were some good scenes in it. I think my favourites were probably of young Spock. The young Kirk in contrast was just stupid, and in fact, all throughout it felt like someone was doing a parody of Kirk, like something from Galaxy Quest or something. I can't remember a single scene where he wasn't either flirting or fighting. Yes, we know Shatner's Kirk liked the ladies, but he at least confined himself to one a week, and I don't ever remember him refusing to take "no" for an answer.
The casting wasn't great either. Andy Bray, Charles Root and John Lim did a much better job playing Chekov, Scotty and Sulu (respectively) than any of the actors in the film (particularly Andy Bray).
I didn't like the music. If there was one thing I could do to make the film better, this is the area I would start in. There were many scenes that cried out for the famous Alexander Courage theme; even if it was just a hint of it. But the thing that most annoys me is that they did finally use it for the ending credits!! WTF?! If you had the rights to use it, and were going to do so anyway, then why on Earth not put it in the film?! - Not all the way through of course, but just a hint here and there when you first see the Enterprise for example would have gone a long way to improving the experience for me.
Overall then, I would say it wasn't a bad way to spend an evening. It didn't bore me like TMP does, but nor did I come away with any particular sense of satisfaction. It's like eating a chicken sandwich; it's not bad, but nor is it good. That's probably as positive as I can ever be about it, and I won't be watching it again anytime soon.