The Captains (2011) with a guest review from our favorite Trekkie Shannon Loomis

William Shatner directs and stars in this documentary about the different people and characters who have commanded a starship in the Star Trek universe.  He interviews all of them and gets a feel for how they became an actor, and how their role in the franchise has changed or shaped their lives. Probably of best way to break this down is by person, so here we go…

Sir Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard – The Next Generation) – This starts with a very awkward meeting between the two, despite them having worked together in the past.  Shatner proceeds to inturrupt each question Stewart tries to answer with an anecdote about his own life.  This is probably the main focus of this movie as Stewart gets the most screen time of any of the other actors, and rightfully so, he is a knight for Pete’s sake.  It seems that for the first year or so he was the only one who took his role seriously on the show, and he freely admits that it was the most terrifying role of his life.  He eventually learned to relax a bit and had fun doing it, despite it taking up more of his time than he had anticipated.

Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko – Deep Space Nine) – We learn really quick that this guy is fucking insane.  The interviews with him are pretty pointless, as he doesn’t specifically talk about the roll, and just answers each of Shatner’s questions with another crazy philosophical question… then they sing out the answer together sitting next to a piano. True story.  There are a lot of awkward silences between them, as they smile at each other and try to figure out what the hell to do next.

Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway – Voyager) – Kate had nothing but bad things to say about her experience, mostly due to the long work hours and the fact that she was away from her family so much; which was a shared theme among all of the captains, and probably anyone who worked on a weekly tv show.  She was very honest about the role, and admits while she did her best, it was just a paycheck, she was not emotionally vested in the character. So spoke freely that she is much more comfortable on a stage rather than in front of a camera.

Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer – Enterprise) – As a fan on the show as a young man, Bakula talked the most about the actual franchise itself.  As a science fiction fan he appreciated his role more than the others it seemed.  Again, this interview was awkward as it was outside in a gazebo and apparently he was rushed for time.  Bakula admits that his cast lacked the chemistry that those of the other shows had, and thus was the reason that series was cancelled.

Chris Pine (James Kirk – Star Trek) – This was a pretty brief interview, as Pine has only has the one movie role, but he seemed to really appreciate the legacy and wanted to do the fans proud.  He seemed to be the most relaxed by far, and he kept the interview going rather than Shatner. Most of this interview was just the two of them arm wrestling. Really.

The real meat and potatoes of this movie was the life and times of William Shatner himself.  It is almost as though he realized no one was going to make a documentary about him, so he would just do it himself and loosely base it around Star Trek.  It was only until recently that he has accepted the fact that he is famous due to his role on Star Trek (and not T.J. Hooker or Priceline commercials), and has started to embrace the role and has begun going to conventions and interacting with fans.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I will start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of Star Trek (I am actually a huge Star Wars nerd), but I will freely admit that we owe a lot of what we see in today’s science fiction to Rodenberry’s original series.  Anyone that knows me will just think I am hating on Star Trek, but in reality, I am just hating on this movie.  This could have been a real treat for Star Trek fans, but instead you sort of get a glimpse into William Shatner’s narcissism.  I had assumed there would be more actual information about the movies and tv series, but alas, that is not what I got.  Each time Shatner meets a new ‘captain’, the awkwardness of it all is almost unbearable and difficult to watch.  I didn’t think he made this movie to be all about himself, but for some reason (maybe due to a lack of useable footage from the interviews) it ended up being about his life in general, and went on stretches without mentioning Star Trek at all.  Maybe a fan would get more out of this than I did, because I was not at all entertained.  Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Wow, just when you thought that Shatner couldn’t get  any more arrogant, he makes this movie. On the outside, it would appear to be a meeting of the Star Trek Captains, and as a fan of the original series,(I am also a Star Wars Geek) I thought this was a neat idea. Mostly because I watched a lot of Spenser for Hire with my Grandma and Hawk was a badass dude. Also Patrick Stewart commands such presence without using the goofy theatrics that Shatner resorted to consistently. Instead we get an excuse for William Shatner to present himself to the other actors that tried to fill his shoes, and he gracefully allows them to fawn on him. What I learned was Avery Brooks is batshit crazy, Patrick Stewart, and Scott Bakula are pretty much normal guys, and Kate Mulgrew is filled with regret and has daddy issues. The parts I really liked all took place at a convention, and while Bill Shatner is arrogant, he’s not really a bad dude. As he strolls around the convention floor he sneaks up and photobombs fans, and he takes a few minutes for a special needs fan that traveled a long way. It was genuinely touching. All in all I look forward to the next Star Trek movie, because the reboot has been excellent so far, and I will continue to enjoy the campy fun of the original Kirk, but I don’t think I can indulge the old captain for much else. Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

Shannon’s Thoughts:  This documentary is mostly William Shatner getting teary eyed about his career in acting and the impact of Star Trek on the world. I could have done without the scenes where each captain explained how they got into acting and how, at first, they thought they were too good for Star Trek. I was way more entertained by the interactions between Shatner and the other Captains. There are tons or priceless moments but my favorites have to be Shatner trying to have any kind of cohesive conversation with Avery Brooks, and the arm wrestling scene between Bill Shatner and Chris Pine. I also loved Shatner walking through the Trek convention jumping into people’s pictures and watching them freak out. Overall I thought this documentary had lots of Trekkie goodness for fans of any Trek series. Shannon Rates This Movie 7/10

“If it were to all end for me today, I would largely be known for my work on Star Trek; not as MacBeth or King Lier, but as Captain Jean-Luc Picard… and I’m alright with that.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue