Sunday, November 20, 2011

Movies: The Captains

Not just anybody can be a Starfleet captain in the "Star Trek" universe. Out on the edge of known space, days or weeks away from resupply, and in control of weaponry that can incinerate a city from orbit, only the most dedicated individuals can be trusted to command a starship.

Interestingly enough, the same considerations apply to the actors who play "Star Trek" captains:




Written and directed by William Shatner, "The Captains" is a documentary focusing on the performers who have played the lead role in a "Star Trek" film or TV series: Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine. Shatner interviews each, in a continent-spanning journey to settle his feelings about being so closely identified with his iconic role as Captain Kirk (he once had a famously-cool relationship with Trekkies).

There's a little "Star Trek" lore discussed, but the film is chiefly a mini-biography of the actors; Shatner asks them about how they got into show business, how they were cast into their roles in "Star Trek," and how they feel about the effects, positive and negative, that being a "captain" had on them:





Even though it has its faults (a bloated runtime, maudlin background music), I think "The Captains" is an essential documentary for any "Star Trek" fan. Heck, even non-Trekkers will get a kick out of it, since it's much more focused than a conventional behind-the-scenes piece (can you imaine William Shatner and Avery Brooks having an impromptu piano jazz session in a regular Trek documentary?). If you want to get "inside the captain's chair," it's the only game in town.

Rating: 6/10

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