“Boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Is there anyone out there who hasn’t noticed that William Shatner the actor has become William Shatner the character over the years? Give the man some credit for finding ways to reinvent himself. After Star Trek he was the only actor to find himself another regular television character and shakes the typecasting that most actors in the franchise have been victimized by. When TJ Hooker was gone he found a few other shows and ways to take advantage of what could have been fleeting fame. By the time he did Boston Legal he had completely reinvented himself as a somewhat humorous character and wonderful mate for James Spader. But all along there was and always will be more than a little Captain Kirk in the actor. And over time the two began to meld into a being that has been the fodder for jokes for most of the world. Shatner’s laughing, too, but not in the way you might think. Shatner’s been laughing all the way to the bank.
Shatner visits with each of the Star Trek captains. He finds Patrick Stewart comfortably at home in England where they take a tour of the extensive grounds and talk philosophy. Next on the list it’s Avery Brooks, who comes across as pretty much insane. Even Shatner agrees, making fun of the actor at a convention appearance in the film. Brooks sits behind a piano. He plays quite well, but he interweaves music and crazy phrases while Shatner actually feeds the mania and plays along for laughs. Brooks reminded me of an old interview I have with Geraldo Rivera interviewing Charlie Manson. He goes off on crazy tangents that I just never did understand. On the New York Stage he catches up with Kate Mulgrew, who talks about her love for the theater. On a ranch he sits down with Scott Bakula, who seems to be quite grounded and having a lot of fun with the interview. Finally he sits on a street corner just outside of Paramount Studios with Chris Pine with whom he spends the least amount of time. The film also features short segments with other Trek personalities to offer their perspectives.
While Shatner does pay some tribute to the other actors, he never misses a chance to turn the focus back on himself. At one point it looks like Patrick Stewart is fighting to stay awake while Shatner delivers a long monologue that basically says that while researching Stewart he had an epiphany of just how great he (Shatner) really was. Very little of the actual film is spent sitting down with the other captains. There are appearances with Shatner with various convention crowds. And even when he is sitting with the others the conversation mostly ends up being about Shatner. The end offers some philosophical enlightenment he appears to have found on his journey. My journey should have come equipped with a feather pillow and a down comforter.
The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image is often a little over-stylish but it doesn’t really distract from the material. It’s a documentary after all and not really something you’re going to buy for its video quality.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is dialog. That’s all folks.
The Making Of The Captains: (11:00) The feature will confirm what we suspected all along. This was always about Shatner.
When I first heard of this film, I was looking forward to seeing it. It appeared a bit out of character for Shatner to not only acknowledge these other commanding actors, but now we were going to see him sit down with each and pay tribute to them. My wife tells me I should have known better and have only myself to blame for being disappointed in the result. When she’s right, she’s right. “You can beam me up, just not yet.”