The depiction of aliens
It's classic "Star Trek" because . . . Never known for lavish special effects, the original "Star Trek" often favored exotic face paint to depict aliens, instead of elaborate prosthetics. Although there are a few odd-looking critters from out of this world in the Abrams films, there are just as many who look like Cirque du Soleil performers with temporary facial tattoos.
It's "Star Wars" because . . . Abrams and Co. gave Simon Pegg's Scotty an alien sidekick named Keenser who serves as both target of and sounding board for Scotty's frustrations. He's neither as furry nor as vocal as Han Solo's best friend Chewbacca. On the plus side, the fact that he keeps his mouth shut allows us to assume he'll never say anything as annoying as Jar Jar Binks.
The target demographic
It's classic "Star Trek" because . . . it's for grown-ups. Notwithstanding the PG rating of nine of the first 10 films — and the undeniable fact that the original series attracted a lot of young viewers — "Star Trek" was always intended for adults, or at least mature viewers. If "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a kiddie cartoon, it's one that grown-ups can enjoy too.
It's "Star Wars" because . . . while the recent PG-13-rated "Star Trek" movies aren't as blatantly targeted toward elementary schoolers, it's easy to imagine little kids totally geeking out over all of the interplanetary action. Oh, and did we mention that, via an "Into Darkness" tie-in, Hasbro just released a "Star Trek" toy building sets, designed for ages 6 and up?