Captain My Captain

The Captains, written and directed by William Shatner; starring William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine (2011): The A&E interview series Shatner’s Raw Nerve revealed something unexpected about the famously self-absorbed William Shatner: he’s a very good interviewer. This documentary, co-financed by Canada’s Movie Network, takes Shatner on a journey to meet and interview all the captains of Star Trek, up to and including Chris Pine, who played Captain Kirk, the role Shatner originated, in the 2009 movie Star Trek.

Really, the only complaint I’ve got is that the film, which runs just north of 90 minutes, is too short. And that’s not a complaint I make often. What we do see of Shatner and his interaction with the other actors (along with Trek regulars and guest stars that include Christopher Plummer, whose illness while headlining Henry V at Stratford in the mid-1950’s gave understudy Shatner his first big break as an actor) is quite fascinating at points. He and Patrick Stewart, Pine, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula really do seem to get along.

And then there’s Avery Brooks. They seem to get along too, but Brooks (Captain Sisko of Deep Space Nine), as Shatner jokes at an appearance in Las Vegas, is really out there. Really, really, really, really out there. Brooks doesn’t act much any more, preferring to teach from his faculty spot at Rutgers. I’d love to see what a class with him looks like because he frankly comes across as somewhat demented, though in a fascinating way.

Shatner gets in a bit of soul-searching along the way, gazing wistfully at ducks and geese and swans on the water in Stratford, Ontario before kibbitzing with Plummer. And his camera people follow him as he zips around the convention floor, surprising people at every turn. Some of his questions are a bit off the beaten track for this type of documentary (‘What happens after we die?’ being the most bizarre, albeit occasionally illuminating in the answers and non-answers it elicits).

If you don’t enjoy Star Trek in at least one of its many incarnations, I don’t imagine this movie will change your opinion. If you do at least like Star Trek, this will probably be enjoyable and all too brief. Recommended.

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