Instead of doing a review of the film itself, I've decided instead to look at the statements by the screenwriters and examine the end result against their justifications for including various nods and references to the original canon. This use, or more acturrately misuse, forms the core of what dissatisfaction I have as a fan of Star Trek, and also lays bare the major structural flaws of film itself.
Kurtzman: “The choice to play in that sandbox [Khan as expressed by the original Trek canon] is really complicated because when a character was as beloved as Khan, you really have to have a reason to do it. Part of our thinking at first was designing a story that existed as its own solid story. If we could take that and then incorporate Khan into the mix in a way that felt reverent and appropriate for that story, we would do it. Without that standard, we wouldn’t.”
Kurtzman: “Ultimately, I think we felt that we found a reason and a way to do it that was all of the things we needed it to be, and yet really different. I think the mistake that we could have made, that we didn’t want to make, was to do a version of what Ricardo Montalban had done so brilliantly, and then fall short of that. We all loved the ‘Space Seed’ back story, the idea that he was a man who loved his crew as his family — that was the understandable and relatable agenda. And then we built outward from there. There are things about Khan that are very familiar, and there are things that are entirely different, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.”
Kurtzman on including the icon KHAAAAAN line: "We knew that if we could get to the point we wanted to get to, and it felt like it was a natural and organic reaction, a real reaction to the moment, then that would be a wonderful plus. But we didn’t go into it trying to shoehorn it in.”
Orci: “We wanted to address the question that some fans have: would Leonard Nimoy’s Spock tell everyone everything he could in order to prepare everyone for everything? It was interesting for us to articulate the idea that he vowed not to tell anyone much of anything because he wants the universe to develop naturally, as it should. But in this one instance, when it comes to the greatest villain they ever faced, he makes an exception.”
Orci: “We came to that because again, as Alex was saying, you can’t just do that and then make it for no reason — it has to have a context. In The Wrath of Khan, the death of Spock and their last moment together is a punctuation and an acknowledgement of a friendship that has been fortified through years and years of their journey together. Our [Kirk and Spock] haven’t known each other that long, so in our movie, that moment is a revelation for Spock that Kirk is his friend. It’s the beginning of Spock recognizing, Oh my god, this guy is my friend, and just as I figured it out, I lose him.”
Kurtzman: “The idea with Carol was that she was a character that obviously the audience has an association with from The Wrath of Khan. So you’re immediately inheriting enormous implications having her in the movie. What we didn’t want to do was rush it in a way that felt too familiar and too predictable. The idea with Carol was introduce a character that implies a lot of things, but leave it open enough that anything could happen in the next movie.”