I've never considered myself a Trekkie per se, but Saturday evenings in my childhood meant two things: nachos and watching Captain Jean-Luc Picard (aka Professor Xavier) be a total boss. To this day, anytime I see a rerun of The Next Generation, I have an overwhelming Pavlovian desire for nachos.
Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) takes the helm from J.J. Abrams in this latest Trek, but keeps to the formula without feeling tired. While the film doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the Star Trek universe, it doesn't drop the ball on what has thus far been a successful franchise reboot for fans new and old. But particularly welcome in this iteration is the addition of the always-excellent Idris Elba as Krall, a scaly villain best described as Lucifer in Space, and a breakthrough role for actress Sofia Boutella as the kick-ass orphan Jaylah.
The rest of the cast, led by Chris Pine, continues to have great chemistry, though Zachary Quinto's Spock is the best among the regulars. The presence of the late Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.) will be missed as Chekov, and it will be interesting to see how the films adapt, especially as it was announced earlier this week that the character will not be recast.
Krall's malicious motivations are a bit lacking in intent and clarity, but Mr. Elba's performance helps make up for this slight. Krall declares that only struggle can make civilization stronger and denounces unity as a weakness, which fuels his insane if somewhat hard-to-explain revenge plot. And what the movie lacks in surprises, it makes up for in action. Not that this should surprise anyone.
Early on, Kirk proclaims that "nothing is ever unknown, just temporarily hidden," hinting that the studio at least believes there is still plenty of room to explore the final frontier. And the end leaves no doubt that more adventures are just around the corner. Still, if there is to be a prolonged future for this franchise, the stories will need to evolve, particularly where it involves the villains. Revenge has been the mainstay for this trilogy's bad guys, and while this has worked fine thus far, it would be nice to see a little more complexity and gray areas the next go-around with the crew of the Enterprise.
So what should the next Trek do to mix things up without becoming unfamiliar to fans? Bring back a classic villain into the alternate-timeline like Into Darkness did? Introduce an anti-hero? Or bring in a source of conflict not centered on a villain like the Nexus in Generations?