DVD Review: The Captains

What can’t William Shatner do? In the course of his 80 years, he’s an award winning actor, a bestselling author, a musical sensation and an internet corporate genius. He’s a star on Broadway, Hollywood and beyond. He raises champion American Saddlebred horses. His talents can’t be contained. Now he’s become a documentarian with The Captains which deals with his iconic role of Captain Kirk on Star Trek. There is no final frontier for Shatner.

Shatner goes on a journey to speak with the other five actors that have helmed the Star Trek franchises. He travels to England to the estate of Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation). He shares a piano stool with Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). A Broadway stage is a proper location for Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager). Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise) joins Shatner at a horse corral. Finally he sits down next to Chris Pine at a table in front of the Paramount lot. It’s a diverse group of actors although Shatner finds common bonds between them all. Pine doesn’t talk too much since he’s the newbie that hasn’t spent years traveling through space.

The interviews are framed around Shatner’s appearance at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. He strolls through the colorful crowds without the “Get a Life” attitude that was spoofed on Saturday Night Live. His following isn’t completely people that aspire to move out of their parents’ basement. He’s inspired people to be rocket scientists, astronauts and internet writers. He understands the importance of his role in the lives of others. This is responsibility is also felt from his fellow captains. None treat the series as just another gig on their resume. Even Stewart is secure knowing that even with his outstanding career, his obit will lead with him being Picard.

Shatner’s interview technique starts light with chit chat about the show. But his line of questioning gets poignant. They discuss the demands of the series on their family relationships. Everyone opens up about how the 16 hour shoot days either extremely tested their marriages or contributed to divorce. Mulgrew’s kids hate Star Trek since they rarely saw her during the seven seasons Voyager aired. The topic eventually turns to death. While it’s rather morbid, it’s easy to understand why Shatner feels mortality. Many of his castmates have passed away. He knows that after he’s dead, his image will continue to flourish with nonstop reruns of Star Trek and new officially licensed Captain Kirk products. Do the others think of the after life? Brooks answers this topic musically which makes sense in the context.

Casual Star Trek fans will point out that the first actor to play a captain on the U.S.S. Enterprise was Jeffery Hunter’s Captain Pike in the pilot that was turned into “The Cage.” Why Shatner didn’t talk to Hunter? The simple answer is Hunter died in 1969. Christopher Plummer gets to talk about his playing a Klingon Captain in Star Trek VI. The star of The Sound of Music admits he’s always been a fan of the show so he was excited to get the role.

The Captains is sure to please the devoted who have a closet filled with the VHS, DVDs and Blu-rays from the series. The viewer who watches an episode will also be entertained by this documentary. Shatner gets intimate with all the actors that followed in his intergalactic boots. They don’t merely talk about trivia, but their lives. Shatner interprets his own experiences through the lives of the other five captains. The Captains a masterful biographical documentary from an artist who can’t be contained.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings richness to the various locations for the interviews. The audio is 5.1 Surround Sound. The mix is fine for the chats and Avery’s piano playing. The movie is subtitled in English.

To go along with Shatner’s doc is a short making-of (11:00) that exposes the logistics of getting Shatner to meet the other five captains for the project.

The Captains lets William Shatner encounter all five actors who followed in his footsteps within the Star Trek universe. Their talks explore what it’s like to be at the helm of a show. Shatner rules once more.

E One Entertainment presents The Captains Directed by: William Shatner. Screenplay by: William Shatner. Starring: William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula. Running Time: 96 minutes. Released on DVD: October 18, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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