The Captains – A Film by William Shatner

To those who are not as familiar with the Star Trek universe, the other captains highlighted in this documentary film are:

Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard – Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway – Star Trek: Voyager)

Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathon Archer – Star Trek: Enterprise)

Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk – Star Trek 2009)
 

"The Captains" consists of interviews Shatner conducted with the other captains, most particularly with Stewart and Bakula, a little less with Mulgrew, even less with Brooks, and almost none with Pine.

Each interview takes place in a setting appropriate to each actor.  Pine, who was really almost non-existent in this film, was interviewed at Paramount Studios.  He has the least amount of interview time, although that’s logical – he’s had the least amount of time as a captain.

It’s apparent that Brooks real love is jazz, as he spends his interview time at the piano.  It’s his great love, but it doesn’t make for a really compelling interview.  Perhaps Captain Sisko should have been more into jazz piano than baseball.

Mulgrew’s interview segments take place in a Broadway or off-Broadway theater.  I won’t tell you how Shatner first presents himself to her, so as not to spoil the surprise and humor, but it is pretty funny.  Mulgrew is probably the most brutally honest of the captains – her interview is somewhat surprising and, at times, almost angry.

Bakula’s interview takes place on a horse farm, and he and Shatner both ride horses, as well as sit and talk.  When Shatner tells Bakula that he’s a fan because Bakula’s a singer, you can see the pleased shock on Bakula’s face.

Stewart’s interview takes place in a mysterious location somewhere in the U.K.  This reviewer suspects it was his home – hence the need for privacy.

The most in depth interviews are with Bakula and Stewart.  Discussions about their lives before Star Trek, during and after.  How it affected their personal lives.  Particularly interesting was Shatner and Stewart talking about being classically trained actors who felt embarrassment at times over being captains, but their eventual acceptance and embracement of their iconic roles.

Interspersed are moments with other Trek actors such as Jonathan Frakes, Christopher Plummer, John de Lancie, Walter Koenig, Sally Kellerman, Rene Auberjonois, Connor Trinneer, Grace Lee Whitney, and Robert Picardo.

However, as stated above, this is really about William Shatner.  There is a touching portion of the documentary where he walks through a Star Trek convention, and it’s not cheesy or silly in any way, shape or form.  It’s an homage not only to Shatner, the captains and the shows/movies, but to the fans – many of whom were very shocked to find Shatner standing next to them, engaging them, talking to them, treating them with the same respect with which he treated his fellow captains.

All in all, if you’re a Star Trek fan, this is a must see.  Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, it’s well worth viewing – well paced, interesting to watch, and Shatner is so comfortable being who he is that it’s no chore to catch his joy of life.

"The Captains" (2011), written and directed by William Shatner, an EPIX Original Documentary, 96 min.

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