The Captains Review

Since first soaring onto television screens in the 1960s, Star Trek has become one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Now, the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, travels around the globe to interview the elite group of actors (Chris Pine, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula) who have portrayed the role of Starship Captain, giving fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the pop culture phenomenon as well as the men and women who made it so.

The Captains

William Shatner has made a whole comedy act out of poking fun at his most famous role, but you don’t often hear him or any of the other Star Trek actors talk about the impact that it had on their personal lives. There are plenty of documentaries out there that talk about how obsessed the fans are, or what impact the show made on television, but how does it feel to be a part of something so massive?

The Captains is a very honest, if a little disjointed look at the people behind some of television’s most famous characters and an insight into the highs and lows of life after Star Trek. This is obviously a passion project for William Shatner; every moment of the documentary reflects his own search for understanding of his own views on the show. While he has often talked about coming to accept that Kirk is the role he will be remembered for, The Captains is a good piece of evidence to show that he’s still not quite sure.

One of the biggest problems with The Captains is how rushed everything feels. Shatner interviews all five captains, as well as various other cast members from the Trek series, but none of them feel as in-depth as I would have hoped. There is a lot of footage of William Shatner at conventions, which worked as a nice framing mechanism for the interviews but cut down on the interview time. It’s obvious that Shatner didn’t have much time for each interview, a few hours at best – which is sad because I feel that this could have made a great documentary series.

The interviews themselves contain a lot of very interesting information and I never really found myself getting bored, but it feels like things were cut short before Shatner really got to the meat of each interview. The format is very informal, which works well for Shatner’s interview style, but the editing leaves a lot to be desired. There is a very uneven distribution of time between the interviews; Chris Pine only gets a couple of minutes (although his arm-wrestle with Shatner was fun), where Avery Brooks disjointed ramblings seem to go on much longer than needed. The hand-held camera style is also extremely distracting at times, it can work on occasion, but there is a reason camera tripods were invented. I think with some more planning and more time with each of the actors the film would have worked a lot better.

Overall The Captains was a very interesting film and it contained some great insight into the lives of the various Star Trek actors. It did have its share of problems, and I felt it could have benefited from being a series rather than a movie, but it was definitely still worth watching. If you’re a fan of the series, or are interested in the effect of a franchise on an actor’s life, then it’s definitely worth watching.

What I Liked – Some nice honest insight. Not too formal. Not afraid to show Shatner in a less than admirable light.

What I Didn’t Like – A little disjointed. Felt rushed. Some parts felt a forced.

Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)

2 thoughts on “The Captains Review

    • No, sadly there wasn’t any interviews with other cast members from the original series; another example of why this would have worked better in an episodic format. I believe that there are a couple of documentaries that cover the friction between Shatner and the rest of the cast, but I can’t recall which ones off the top of my head.

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