A funny thing happens in William Shatner‘s new documentary “The Captains“. In it, the writer/director interviews six actors who have played captains in each iteration of the Star Trek series. He sits down for conversations with Patrick Stewart, Scott Bakula, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Chris Pine and Christopher Plummer, discussing the challenges of being a part of the legendary sci-fi franchise; what drew them into show business; and even if they believe in life after death. But as each interview draws to its conclusion, the former Captain Kirk does what Star Trek fans have known him to be wont to do, he makes it about himself.
Admittedly, the film is billed as “Shatner’s quest to answer one burning question: why, in spite of his myriad stage, screen, and television credits…does one role in his career loom so large that it nearly eclipses all others?”, the role obviously being that of James T. Kirk from the classic Star Trek series. And while his interview subjects have no qualms about bringing up previous roles in film and theater, Shatner appears to distance himself from the other roles he’s come to be known for, namely T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane. (Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie “re-boot” would be the first to drop the name of Shatner‘s Emmy winning role.) Once you get past that little bit of ego-tripping – and Shatner singing during one of his interviews – “The Captains” does deliver on what it promises.
The GOOD: Shatner sits down with each of his compatriots for interviews that feel more like conversations about life, art and the entertainment industry. At times the conversations get even a wee bit contentious, like when the subject of women in politics comes up in his interview with Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway of “Star Trek: Voyager.” The bit with Patrick Stewart had him re-telling anecdotes that die-hard Trekkies have heard before, but watching the two most prominent captains of Star Trek talk about life and theater is still a treat. Scott Bakula’s admission that starring in “Quantum Leap” took a toll on his marriage made me nostalgic for the show. The ‘arm-wrestling match’ between Shatner and Pine made me chuckle. Pine seemed so in awe of his ‘predecessor.’
In addition, there’s footage of Shatner doing the rounds at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. Seeing the fan base of Trek out in full force is an exhibit of ‘Nerdvana’ like no other. The scene where Shatner photobombs a group of Trek cosplayers taking a photo is as charming as it is funny.
The MEH: During many of the interviews, a musical score is inserted. I deduced that it was to add some emotional depth, or maybe even to cover background noise, but in most cases I found it to be distracting.
The WHA-?: The entire interview with Avery Brooks, Captain Benjamin Sisko of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” will have you wondering if the actor/musician/college professor is ‘all there.’ And yeah, this is the part where Shatner sings.
Collecting conversations from all the most prominent heroes of the franchise, “The Captains” is a film that all Star Trek fans will want to add to their home video collection.
The Geek Factor Rating: I give “The Captains” 3 Photon Torpedoes (out of 4).
Wanna win a FREE COPY of the movie? SCROLL DOWN!
On sale: October 18, 2011
DVD SRP: $19.98
William Shatner (Star Trek franchises, “$#*! My Dad Says,” “Boston Legal”)
Golden Globe nominee Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” X-Men franchise)
Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek: Voyager,” Star Trek: Nemesis)
Avery Brooks (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” American History X)
Scott Bakula (“Star Trek: Enterprise,” “Men of a Certain Age”)
Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable )
Catalog #: EOE-DV-7066
Running Time: 120 mins.
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: 16 x 9
I have a copy of THE CAPTAINS to give away to one of my readers! If you’d like for me to send it to YOU, here’s what I need you to do: First, VOTE in the “WHICH ROLE DO YOU KNOW WILLIAM SHATNER FOR BEST” POLL, then COMMENT BELOW and tell me WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE STAR TREK CAPTAIN. All commenters will be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of the film of DVD. (Deadline for entry 5:00 PM CST, Monday, October 24th, 2011. Winner to be notified via e-mail.)
DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT AND TELL ME WHO YOUR FAVORITE STAR TREK CAPTAIN IS TO ENTER AND WIN A FREE COPY OF “THE CAPTAINS” ON DVD.