Batman's theme song. What's the first melody that comes to mind? I'd guess that most of the world's population would go with the pop culturally entrenched camp anthem of the 1970s: ba nananananana BATMAN!
But for those of a geekier stripe, there are other options. The classic minor ascent by Danny Elfman, or Shirley Walker's emotionally wrought variations on the theme. Aficionados of the Nolanverse might even be able to recall Hans Zimmer's two note motif from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. If you're a child of the 90s you might even come up with Elliot Goldenthal's booming score from the Joel Schumacher films; it's a far, far more recognizable theme than the average nerd might care to admit.
My point is that many fine composers have taken a shot at scoring the most emotionally rich superhero of our time, The Batman. An overview of these attempts can be found on "The Music of Batman", an album recently released by Silva Screen Records that takes a cross-composer tour of Batman scores as performed by the Prague Philharmonic. After several listens, I've come up with a unifying therom of what characterizes a Batman score.
Individual looks at each composer's take on the Dark Knight, and my shocking conclusion, after the jump....
Danny Elfman (Batman, Batman Returns)
As the first composer tasked with creating a dark theme for the recently re-imagined Dark Knight, Elfman knocks it out of the park and sets a standard that all subsequent composers had to have taken into account. The Batman of Tim Burton's world is a cold, intensely violent vigilante, who has the distinction of being the only movieverse Batman to actively attempt to kill the villain. Accordingly, Elfman's theme is that of a madman. The classic five note theme arcs up like a sneer, only to descend into a minor resolve.
The theme eventually speeds the pace up to galloping march, a headstrong "going to war" theme that could easily place in the mind of a psychotic with delusions of grandeur. This is just barely a hero's theme; there is something cruel and dangerous lurking beneath the false nobility of the french horns and string sections.
Elliot Goldenthal (Batman Forever, Batman and Robin)
Say what you will about Schumacher's Batman movies, but Eliot Goldenthal's score is solid. Goldenthal had the unenviable task of evoking Elfman's iconic score without repeating it, as well as creating a new theme more suited to Joel Schumacher's dayglo comic-strip idea of what Batman is about.
Given these parameters, Goldenthal's theme (making only a modest showing on the disc with the "Batman and Robin Main Titles") is a success. The motif still arcs up and back down like Elfman's, but the feel is much more grandiose. This is still the music of an outcast hero, but one who embraces the pageantry of his crimefighting ways.
Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight)
The fascinating thing about "Eptesicus", the lone track from Batman Begins, is that it introduces a theme not so much for Batman, but for Bruce Wayne. The first several minutes are pure sorrow, stuck in the sort of numb trance of grief that Bruce existed in before he realized his insane destiny. Only in the last 1/4 of the track does the music rise to the call of vengeance, ending in a fearsome resolve.
Then we get an idea of what Zimmer and Howard think Batman proper really sounds like, with "Aggressive Expansion" from The Dark Knight. The reoccuring "hero" motif is only a grim pulse of two notes, but it subtly captures both the menace and determination that defines Nolan's more realistic Batman. The track ends with a high tension "ticking time bomb" beat, which speaks more to the feel of the movie at large than the character of Batman, which is to say it is almost unbearably tense.
The CD also includes Shirley Walker's gorgeous hymnal reworking of the Elfman theme, Neal Hefti and Nelson Riddle's swingin' theme songs from the 1970s TV series and film, and even Christopher Drake's credits music for the direct-to-DVD Batman: Gotham Knight, which has lots of Elfmanesque flourishes and flat out repeats the first four notes of Goldenthalfs central motif.
The Unifying Factor
Every theme on this CD has one thing in common; repetition and momentum. I'm not talking about the simple repetition of a motif in a song; I'm talking about tightly looped musical phrases and that are pounded out over and over again. You hear it in underscore of Elfman's march, in the shrill, escalating string section of "Aggressive Expansion", and in the up and down waves of melories in Goldenthal's central melody line. These themes explore on the human ability to focus and keep going, no matter what. Even the campy 70s theme is fixed on a very distinct track, and I think this is because it's that sort of tunnel-vision stubbornness that defines Batman. Batman does not have the advantage of magic, alien technology, genetic anomalies or being born with the powers of a god. His only power is determination and mental sickness, and in these songs, we hear what righteous determination of a madman sounds like. Who could resist?
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Though the bulk of our collective attention may be split between the siren songs of DVR, the internet, and video games, I think most geeks maintain a special place in their hearts for regular old books. It's certainly true of me, and it's why I love the BookExpo America, North America's biggest book publishing convention. The sheer concentration of booths filling the Javits Center in Manhattan makes the NY Comic Con look like the Montgomery Flea Market.
I was able to pick up review copies of a few upcoming comics (including the very awesome looking Pixu) and I'll be posting about those soon. In the meantime, here are some Friday highlights (frilights?) from the convention floor...
As you may already know, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies from Quirk Books is a paperback best-seller, cultural phenom, and further proof that geek memes are pushing their way into the cultural mainstream. The formula is fiendishly simple; take the ultimate romance novel, insert zombie mayhem, and publish to a waiting nation of zombie fanatics. Love that public domain!
At the Quirk Books booth, publishing reps were promoting a new Deluxe Edition of PPZ coming out this winter, which will include "30% more zombies". I half-jokingly asked the rep if this addition was a concession to reader demands, and she answered in all seriousness, "Yes, we got a lot of reader feedback on the subject."
The big news is that on July 15th, the next "...With Zombies" title will be announced. The only hints I could get out of the rep were:
1. It won't be another Jane Austen book
2. It will take place in the Regency era (I'm guessing they'll stick with the Romance genre too)
I'll call it now: Jane Eyre With Zombies. Maybe cause that's the only Regency era book I can think of that isn't Jane Austen.
Neil Gaiman was signing copies of The Graveyard Book at the Harper Collins booth, bringing fans to tears with a mere word or touch of his hand. The autograph line was absolutely soul-crushing, so I just snapped a picture and moved on. We're BFF on twitter, though.
Life-sized Clifford is actually pretty frightening.
Let's talk bookmarks. Old and busted.....
It took me a minute to understand the point of an XMarxit, but it's actually pretty smart. You point the dot at the spot you stopped reading, so when you open up the book you know exactly where you left off. Boom. Elegant it's simplicity.
And if you ever need to prove that you're a bigger nerd than someone else, whipping out a speciality bookmark is going to be your ace in the hole.
The idea of making a tiny Ultimate Fighting ring for the Ultimate Fighting book to live in is totally adorable, but I question whether it's a good idea to give Beat-Em-Up gloves to a person who is so obsessed with Ultimate Fighting that they'd want this thing in their house. Someone in that house is going to get punched, that's all I'm saying.
From the publisher's notes: "Meet all these cute baby animals that find clever ways to solve their not-so-small problems". I have a problem with crying when I read children's books. I didn't even try to read these on the floor because there would have been trouble.
Oh look, it's a little tiny novelty book!
Or is it....?I can't decide if this is a great idea or not. Playaway is a self-contained audiobook - you'd just get it from the library or as a gift, plug headphones in, and listen to it like an iPod. It's kind of cool to not have to transfer CDs to your computer to your music player before listening to something, and the "tiny book" visual impact is definitely appealing.
My biggest problem is the packaging...
WHAT THE HELL? Why would you create a giant VHS sized package for something that's smaller than a cellphone? Just because something is going to be housed in a library doesn't mean it HAS to look uncool.
In case you were wondering what to get your mom for Christmas. My mom might actually like this, actually.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Can you believe it's been ten years since Buffy Summers and her wacky pals graduated high school? How old does that make you? Pretty old, probably.
Last night, Whedonites of all ages gathered at the Manhattan JCC to celebrate those magical high school years when Cordelia, Oz and Angel were series regulars, Buffy was not clinically depressed, Dawn still an inter-dimensional SuperKey and Willow was still crushing on boys. Okay so maybe I personally am actually a bigger fan of the later seasons (and possibly for those same reasons?!?), but still. Faith!
The free event was put together by the folks who gave us that beloved geek institution The Buffy Sing Along, a fully-interactive screening of Once More With Feeling (that's the Buffy Musical Episode for you dilettantes). The Buffy Sing Along was of course tragically shut down in 2007 by the same suited geniuses at Fox who killed Firefly
That said, the event-planners at the reunion put together a delciously nerdy evening, complete with Buffy AMVs, a trivia contest (won appropriately by a group called The Firsts), and A SUPER SECRET MAIN EVENT which I totally cannot blog about because they asked us not to, for reasons which may be clear from this very post!
The whole extravaganza will be repeated on June 2nd at Brooklyn hipster-nerd magnet Galapagos, but this time with BOOZE! That's right, it's the Sunnydale Reunion: BRONZE EDITION. Buy your ticket now, and be sure to wear your best 90s gear and/or Vampire outfit. That means a leather jacket.
More scans from the "Class of 99: Where Are They Now?" after the jump...it's so full of Buffy Season 8 in-jokes your brain might explode. From insiderness.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Warning: After the jump, the last panel of this post contains spoilers for the ending of Battle for the Cowl, ie who the new Batman is.
Worst Splash Panel - Terror Inc: Apocalypse Soon #2
The first series of Lapham's Terror Inc was great fun. But I am now realizing that a big part of what made this book cool and not ridiculous was the grimly realistic art by Patrick Zircher. Splash panels like the one above should have died in the 90s. The arc of the machine gun blast is like looking into another dimension where time and space have no meaning.
Reed Richards finally loses it, Batman is one cold sonofabitch, and Damian Wayne gets his bratty little way, after the jump...
Best Acting - Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
Here we see an alternate reality timeline in which Reed Richards, realizing that the formation of the Illuminati would lead to the current mess the Marvel U is in, decides to kill everyone to ensure the group is never formed. It worked! Here is what Reed's expression says to me: "I uh...okay. This - was this right? Yes. No. Yes. Hm. Oh boy. Ohhh boy. Hold it together Richards."
Clearest Example of Batman's Insanity - Battle for the Cowl #3
When making his video will, Batman thinks to himself; "I shall leave each of my adopted sons a special fatherly advise voicemail to cherish after I'm gone." So he records one for Tim and one for Dick, and then thinks to himself "Oh, Jason's alive now too, I guess I should record something for him. What would help him be less awful? I've got it - telling him he's the single biggest failure of my entire life will give him the motivational push he needs to start anew."
Batman, you should not be allowed around children or the mentally ill!
Also: note that at the end Bats says, "...but don't worry, I know this great doctor...." I like to think Bruce recorded this before the Black Casebook saga, and is in fact about to recommend his trusted physician Dr. Simon Hurt.
Banana Radomizer Award for Achievement in WTF - Battle for the Cowl #3
So the new Batman is Dick Grayson, and the new Robin is....DAMIAN WAYNE? Whaa? Um, Dick, I know you've been busy with your own career, but Damian is like, really, really evil. In fact you are actually the only member of the inner-circle Batfamily that he hasn't ALMOST SUCCEEDED in killing.
Look, he tries to kill Alfred earlier in this issue!
Um, Alfred, he'll do it.
First of all, why does Dick even NEED a Robin? He is a Robin. As Nightwing, he was both Batman...AND ROBIN. Teaming up with a homicidal tween seems like a step backwards in Dick's crime fighting career, and it's probably not good for his self-esteem either.
I also wonder what Tim is going to do with his nights, since he gave up being Robin to be Batman, and can now be neither. Oops! Guess you shouldn't have quit your Teen Titans dayjob, nerd!
I generally tend to shy away from fan-made movie trailers... usually they're little more than cesspools of crappy after-effects work and poorly rendered 3D animation that carry with them the unappealing stench of private geekgasms... But this one genuinely impressed me. It wasn't until a good bit in that I was positive this was just a fan creation and not a slightly under budgeted movie production. User jaronpitts obviously spent alot of time picking the perfect footage to hijack and co-opt for his own sinister purposes. Granted, there are a few effects that don't quite jive with the footage and some of the members of the GL Corps look a bit... fan-made... but overall, you have to give the guy alot of credit. I also have to say, I'm totally down with his choice of Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan. I think that's a choice the nerd community could really get behind. You hear that Hollywood?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
No, this is not a real cereal, and yes, those are plastic Lego Star Wars stormtrooper heads. But if you put this in front of me on a Saturday morning, yes, I would still try to eat it.
On a related note, the sight of disembodied stormtrooper heads has made me realize something disturbing about the original trilogy:
I'm sure you recall the shot from the Return of the Jedi finale/Ewok Party Montage where an ewok is playing xylophone with a row of empty(?) stormtrooper helmets. While funny, I've always found this to be a discordantly morbid joke for this scene. I mean, it's all well and good to celebrate the defeat of your enemy, but defiling their corpses in such a zany way should probably fall under the New Republic's definition of war crimes.
Of course, it's not like our humanoid heroes who are responsible for this breach of the rules of engagement, it's those damn ewoks. This is what lifted the scales from my eyes and made me realize the horrible truth about what happened to the Imperial soldiers captured on Endor. For what did the ewoks do with Luke and Co when they captured them? They tied them up and got ready to cook them. I say, to cook them. Do you see where I'm going with this? The ewoks feast upon the flesh of their enemies. THEY EAT. PEOPLE. Jesus Christ. Those helmets are empty because the ewoks ate, THEY ATE, their P.O.W's! Look at that picture of the Stormtrooper Cereal again, and realize this is probably not far from what the ewoks were eating for several weeks after the Battle of Endor.
Thanks to Gnerd reader and food blogger Lena for the tip!
Via SeriousEats via Unique Daily.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Brooklyn's Bell House threw a massive party for the last Lost of 2009. Highlights included big screens, a Lostmobile cake, Dharma Beer, and a huge room full of alternately screaming and shushing fans.
The best part of the night for me was the performance by Previously On Lost, a NYC rock band who's songs are all based on episodes of Lost's 4th and 5th season. They have tons of MP3s on their site that I can't vouch for because I haven't listened to them yet, but I will tell you they f'in KILLED live on stage. Low-grade digital video won't fully express the explosive amounts of fan energy they emitted, but here is a short clip of the final lines from their song about SE04EP08, titled "The Island Won't Let You Die."
Must venture to the temple on your own
will she make it safely to her friends, hey did you hear about the
PALM TREE MASSACRE
Palm Tree Massacre
You need to take my hand, he's toast, and on the count of three we'll coast let's go 123
I'm not sure if that clip did them justice. They really were mind blowingly good.
Anyway, check this out!
Who doesn't like Geek Cakes?
Tons of the photos of all that other stuff I mentioned, after the jump....
Previously On Lost t-shirts.
Can you guess which episode they were singing about here?
These fools do it up with rainsticks. Need I say more?
More shots of the cake...
Here's an atmospheric one without the flash...
Let's hear it for the folks at nine cakes!
Filled to capacity.
I said Dharma Beer, and I meant it.
I don't think this was ever actually in Lost.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I'm sorry, but when people stop making hilarious and insightful videos mocking the current crop of Spring Thrillrides, we will stop posting them.
So hip and edgy! And now it's guaranteed to never look dated.
Check back tomorrow for some original content, I swear.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The Magic of Comics - Power Girl #1
I have very little interest in Power Girl or her boobs, but Amanda Conner's art in this issue makes it worth checking out. Not only is the character design and "acting" fantastic, every page is full of excellent and inventive compositions and transitions that really emphasize the sort of storytelling possibilities that separate comics from any other medium. Per example:
Panel 1: Robots approach, Power Girl rears back with a freakin Buick. Panel 2: Robot salad. Fantastic sense of scale and movement....it forces you to bend your mind around the physical (un)reality of actually possessing the ability to whip a car around like a big fly swatter. Superhero comics are meant on a very fundamental level to be awe-inspiring, but once your reader is past the age of 13, it's a hard trick to achieve. These panels did it for me.
Then there's this. No daring feats of strength here, just a freakin' hilarious representation of being assaulted by someone who can't shut up. Great acting all around.
Meta Patrol - Irredeemable #2
So here we find Irredemable's Clark Kent analog tell his Lois Lane analog that he's actually a Superman analog. In an intentional contradiction of genre expectations, instead of reacting with shocked wonder or teary confusion, "Lois" gets really really pissed off, and in subsequent pages runs out of the room and spills "Clark's" secret to everyone within earshot. Jeez, I know this is one of them there "gritty" comics, but what a bitch!
Downer of the Week - Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1
God, when did the Human Flame become the worst person in the DC Universe? I thought he was just sort of a dumb schlub. But here, he brazenly robs the wife and little girl he abandoned long ago, and gets away in his wife's car, with his daughter's cherished bike still attached to the back! OH MY GOD! Fuck the Martian Manhunter, this is all the reason I need to hope Flame Guy dies in horrible pain at the end of this series.
Downer of the Week 2 - Atomic Robo #1, Vol 3
I'm not trying to bum everyone out this week, but here's another one-panel portrait of despair and sorrow. This writer got too deep into the world of supernatural aliens, and had to destroy all his work for the good of humanity. This grey little panel really captures something about the crushing weight of responsibility. I love that this is the very moment he lets go of the match, the exact moment that the decision is made, and can't be taken back. Comics are full of visual representations that are at once figurative AND literal, and this is a great example of how effective they can be.
Your Geekanerd editors recently had a pretty contentious argument regarding Sue Storm and how she fits into Marvel's not-so-great track record of major female superheroes. I claimed she an example of how women on superteams are given the title of "the woman" as opposed to a personality, while Degan countered that she was the ultimate representation of parenthood in the Marvel U.
Low and behold, while looking for a Sue-As-Supermom graphic to use in this post, I came across an excellent article that explores both of our positions.
Via Fantastic Fangirls...
"Sue Storm is the perfect woman. Or at least, when she was created in 1961, when comic books were written for and by boys, she was the perfect woman. She looks like a Barbie doll: blond, blue-eyed, a figure to die for. She acts like a 1950’s Vassar girl: bright but the submissive caretaker, introduced to be sister, wife/lover/mother (Sue was introduced as Reed’s fiancé and fiancé promises marriage and motherhood, at least in 1961), and friend at once."
"As many mistakes as she has made over the years it is clear she loves her children. It is clear she wants what is best for her children, even if sometimes she cannot figure what it is (and as a parent, I understand that failing). And it is clear she would fight to her dying death and beyond for her children and for her family. She is a fiercely passionate mother and family woman. And it is important to note she is also a career woman, but her career is (literally) married to her family life. While it is not something most working mothers can emulate, it is something most working mothers can identify with and that is all but unique in the medium."
It's a great article that reconciles both sides of this debate, and well worth a read.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
I'm sure you all think we Geekanerd editors are like infallible gods among men; strange and terrifying beings imparting geeky wisdom as if from on high. Well, that's not entirely true... at least not the infallible part. Cause I DROPPED MY FREAKIN' IPHONE ON THE GROUND LIKE SOME DOUCHE! On the plus side, at least now my iPhone comes with Dino-Damage! Oddly enough, the thing still works fine, the touch capability works perfectly; even under the cracked part... which isn't supporting any motivation to shell out the requisite $200 to replace the sucker. I think the only thing that was affected by the cataclysm (I think that's what I'll call it) is the iPhone's gyroscopic type things... cause I have to tilt the poor guy to the right to get my little doodle to jump straight in Doodle Jump. Ah well, the scotch tape will hold it together for now. Besides, we all know that scars are cool. I'll just tell people he got it in a bar fight... you should see the other guy.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Ok, technically I promised "no more youtube videos"... so I think I'm still holding true to that promise... besides... WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND COULD SKIP SOMETHING LIKE THIS?!?
Anyway, here's what the Galactic Empire thinks about J.J. Abram's Star Trek relaunch. And let's be honest, this is what we've all been thinking this whole time...
Because we've been on a serious youtube-tribute-to-geek-franchises-currently-in-the-theaters kick, I submit to you this video from Shyaporn. To be fair, I haven't seen the movie, but I can only assume this is a pretty faithful recreation. And this is the last youtube video, I promise! (or at least until I find another Youtube video that I find funny...)
On this, the eve of the Star Trek reboot...why not take a moment to reflect on what Star Trek Classic was all about. It wasn't about CG effects, blood pounding action, or digitally rendered lens flares. It was about the space BETWEEN moments. You know what I'm talking about.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I got a sneak peek of Star Trek last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are many things about the movie that I will praise Abrams and the cast and crew for, but I will voice a couple of my (hopefully not overly fan-boy sounding) complaints. I'm going to try and avoid any MAJOR SPOILERS but if you want to go into the movie completely without expectations (or with the expectations you have now) I guess you should read another one of our WONDERFUL articles. I should also mention that I'm not a trekie. I'm not a huge fan of TOS. I like DS9 and TNG, but I'm by no means a big fan who's going to know and or complain that Kirk has always had an issue with holding a phaser in his left hand as made abundantly clear in S1Ep8, so I won't be giving a detailed breakdown of everything they did right or wrong, just what I liked and didn't. So here we go:
1. The visuals and fx were great. Up on a big screen the fx look wonderful and the shooting is frenetic without being dizzying. For the most part, the set design, specifically the Enterprise/Starfleet ships was well done. The bridge and ship has been updated without feeling like it was only done to showcase a big budget. Much of the set felt like what the sets would have looked like if Roddenberry had created the original series with today's set design and special effects. Less redesign and more "better looking, more functional, or updated equipment and sets." The ships have a lot of work, but many other sets stay simple; things might be in the future but that doesn't mean every room has to have a giant computer and flashy cgi. Additionally, the sound was great. There is some of that old "sound in space" issue, but it's countered with a nice couple nods to the fact that in reality there isn't any sound. Overall, the sound really pulled me in, though the sound system at the theater was also excellent. Sound design over all was well done and while I could have done with a couple less over-the-top impact sfx with some of the punches and kicks, the sound worked well with the visuals making an exciting and yet not over-the-top/unbelievable environment.
2. I really appreciated the pacing of the film. That said, it does get everybody from childhood to the ship quite fast, but let's be honest, JJ wasn't out to make a movie for Trekkie know-it-alls to drool over, he gets to the action, because that's really where we get to see the characters do their thing. The film moves along with lots of action and tension, but there are a few breaths and emotional moments that give you a chance to relax.
3. The opening. Man what a sequence. They really jump right into the action and I was frankly sucked in. I didn't come into the film expecting much, it didn't look that great in the trailers I had seen. But in the first couple minutes I was hooked.
[Minor Spoiler Warning]
4. The villain. Nero, (Eric Bana) was frankly a well-conceived villain. He wasn't insane, he didn't want to control the world or become rich or powerful, and he didn't have a maniacal laugh. He's a very upset miner who took his crew and went out to kill the man that he (and frankly his whole crew probably) blamed for an enormous loss. His master plan is only hatched after 25 years of built-up anger waiting for the guy he hates to show up, and his master plot is almost entirely a plan of happenstance. I don't want to give too much away about the plot, but things culminate in him having an evil plan, originally he just sets out for revenge. He's not overly dramatic or diabolical. He's direct and to the point, he's got a mission and if you get in his way, he's just going to blow you up and move on. Sure his revenge scheme goes maybe a TAD bit far, but given the circumstances, you can really see how he got there. He's not a professional bad guy, but he's what you expect a really pissed off average guy with access to a lot of firepower might act.
[Minor Spoiler Warning]
5. The time travel involved in the film. Often (but not always) I think time travel is either convoluted or just a silly plot device, used to make a story possible. In this case, it's neither. While it does provide leeway with some of the origin stories in the film, it doesn't seem written just for the sake of allowing changes in canon. It's believable (as believable as time travel can be) and basically an accident. Nor is does it feel like a way for them to write in an unnecessary cameo. In fact, the use of it in the film is overall quite tragic, as every event that unfolds from the point of the initial travel is a diversion from what could have been (and in fact what was or may have been in TOS canon). It also traps the villain in a time where the tragedy he's experienced hasn't yet taken place, but he's most likely unable to stop it.
6. JJ and the writers had a number of nods to ST:TOS. From certain tricorder and phaser designs, to characters and random ST trivia. Captain Pike heads the Enterprise as it goes out on it's inaugural mission, a character some fans may know as the original captain of the Enterprise from the TOS pilot. Aliens you may recognize, though you'll have to look hard to find the tribble, and lots of Vulcan culture. The necessary lines are all there, and there's some nice little character background pieces, like McCoy's nickname.
7. The humor. The movie was actually pretty funny at times, but steered well clear of getting at all campy. I find that remakes have a tendency to make fun of the quirks or issues originals had, and end up making stupid groaner jokes. Kirk doesn't get his shirt torn or fight a lizard man, but there is a green skinned lady and some red shirt fun. The jokes are well timed and don't break the flow of the movie, something I was concerned about going in. Even when someone is facing a life threatening situation there's still time for a joke without ruining the moment (see the chase on Delta Vega).
8. The acting. Man I know maybe this should have come earlier, but everyone was quite good. I was expecting goofy or poorly attempted impersonations of the original actors (see: Brandon Routh in Superman). The main cast was really good, and we got to see them all as early unrefined versions of the characters that they eventually grow into. There are some just okay performances by some of the supporting cast, but the crew and Nero do a very good job.
9. The Score. Not much I'm going to say here, but the music worked really well. Obviously we weren't going to get a straight remake of the original theme, but I still got the sense that the music belonged in a Star Trek picture.
10. The make-up of and operation of Starfleet. I felt like they really tried to stay true to the TOS world of Starfleet. There's enough aliens to remind you that they're a part of the framework of earth, Starfleet, and the Federation, but not so many that you get the feeling that they wanted to go back and "correct" the lack of non-humans. Starfleet is based on Earth and it's going to have a majority human membership for that reason. It's enough like the military without being overwhelmingly bootcamp. It's really a peacekeeping force that's there to assist and protect the Federation, but TOS seems a little more rough and tumble than TNG or DS9.
Five things I didn't like:
1. Why are all the Vulcans British? Why is that? Is that supposed to make them sound smart and emotionless just like actual English people or something? It just comes off like when a film set in Germany has actors with British accents because "all European accents sound British."
2. Sulu's samurai ninja skillz. Seriously, Sulu was a great character because he was specifically not an asian stereotype. Well, have no fear, JJ Abrams is going to give him a space katana and have him karate chop around the screen, regardless of the fact that he states that he only has training in fencing (which could include kendo, but wouldn't include flying kicks). It's just blowing off an important aspect of a character to show some cool fight sequence. I know it's not a huge deal, but that's Sulu's largest portion of the movie, and they pushed him back into an asian stereotype.
3. Lens Flares. Seriously JJ Abrams there were like 400 lens flares in this movie. He makes the bridge seem like there's spotlights shooting from all of the surfaces. It starts to get distracting after a while, when a flare fills up the entire visual for a second or so as the camera moves. It's not necessary and it's added in for...some reason that I don't understand. THINGS ARE SO FUCKING BRIGHT IN THE FUTURE!
4. Transporters. I'll be honest, it's not a big deal, but I was not a fan of the way the transporter beams looked. It looked more like getting resurrected by a bunch of tiny fairies swirling around you as opposed to a matter transporter that copies all of the atoms in your body and then reassembles them at another location. Don't get me wrong, the sfx looked nice, but it didn't really feel like a transporter from the series, or what I would think of when transporting matter at all. It had a very anime-esque quality to it. More Dragonball Z than ST.
5. The crazy ass decisions that get made to move the plot along. Frankly it didn't happen very often, but there were a couple of times I raised an eyebrow, such as all of the cadets from Starfleet being sent out on ships when they hadn't finished their training. Sure I guess armies might fast track recruits in a time of war, and the main young crew members seem pretty proficient, but those were the stars. Think about how many cadet crew members were screwing up their orders because they hadn't had the final in Practical Dilithium Crystal Engine Mechanics yet. There's also a decision young Spock makes that seems, frankly, a little over the top. Ships have a brig for a reason you know. No need to throw someone into a potentially life-threatening situation just because you think they're a douche. Talk about being ruled by your emotion, there's nothing logical about that.
So those were my thoughts. I'd definitely recommend seeing the movie. I saw it for free, but knowing what I know now, I would pay to see it. And really, you'll probably have less continuity/canon issues with it than you will with Wolverine you big nerds.
Bonus: They did a prequel comic for the movie. Go check it for some nice backstory for the villain et al.