Personal note: I hated (and still do) the original series due to the tremendously bad acting of almost every character, and never found the stories "deep" or "philisophical". Kirk (and William Shatner) almost immediately became a caricature of himself. However, I do rate Star Trek: The Next Generation as one of the best TV series ever. Well acted with good characters and often superb scripts, it was everything the original series longed to be.
The genius of this new movie is that is actually re-invents Star Trek while keeping the entire original (and often lame) series completely intact. All the same original characters, but now with an altered history(and future).
The story is this: In the future, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), as an old man, is ambassador to the Romulan Empire (as anyone who has watched Star Trek: TNG knows) when an exploding supernova threatens to destroy Romulus itself. Spock tries to save the planet by dropping a "red matter" bomb into it that is designed to create a black hole that will suck in all the exploding mass and energy of the supernova. But he gets there just a little too late -- and Romulus is destroyed.
A Romulan named Nero survives because he was on a mining expedition. He sees his planet destroyed and blames Spock. He chases Spock through the new singularity (black hole) and in the process is thrown backward in time.
Just as he emerges from the singularity, he encounters a Federation starship, murders the captain, and proceeds to entrap and destroy the ship. The first officer, George Kirk, has his pregnant wife with him; she goes into labor as he gets her onto an escape pod; then he dies in his ship as he protects the fleeing crew and passengers. Nero waits at the exit point from the singularity until old man Spock finally comes through after him. Because of the time anomalies in the singularity, it takes twenty-five years.
Meanwhile, George Kirk's newborn baby, James Tiberius Kirk, is brought back to Earth and grows up to become the same Captain Kirk who was played by William Shatner in the first go-round.
Here's the genius of the movie: When Nero (and later Spock) traveled backward through time and reentered the universe at exactly the point where James Tiberius Kirk was on the verge of being born, this causal anomaly forced the flow of time into an alternate path. It did not (and could not) destroy or erase anything that happened in the first go-round -- all of that happened, up to and including the destruction of Romulus.
So ... all the episodes of Star Trek and its sequels and spinoffs remain "true," but they are on a different time-line -- in a different reality. This time, James Tiberius Kirk is born into a different reality, one in which his father is dead and he grows up as a juvenile delinquent. We're on a different timestream. There is a whole new future waiting to be invented. WOW!
The Star Trek franchise is now free to continue to make movies with the original characters, but invent an entire new storyline and realtionships. Spock is now free to embrace more of his human half (with Uhura nonetheless!) and Kirk can be less of a 1960s misogynistic cowboy. Just think of a major motion picture dealing with the war (and subsequent peace) with the Klingon Empire.
This goes on the list as one of the best action/space movies ever.