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The Captains - A Film By William Shatner
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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2011
[I watched this on EpixHD and will certainly buy it once available on DVD]

Shatner is a living spectacle of his own accord. He is controversy and entertainment wrapped into one. And unfortunately, his package deal sometimes comes off a bit pompous and egotistical. Few people really like someone who may revel in the enjoyment of his own voice. Shatner at times does this, and yet... if you can get past that veneer, underneath you will find a very fascinating and earnest man. He is someone who lucked into a legendary role that has made him supremely famous, something that for a long period he derided, yet eventually relented and embraced. He is flawed, he knows he is flawed, but he admits it openly with sincerity. I admire him now, more than I ever did.

"You either love him or you hate him," is how I've often heard Shatner described. And in various on-line forums that I've had the pleasure to read, you'll see a wide range of polarized opinions about him. Love him or hate him, he played a very important part in the world of Star Trek. He is essential.

NOTE: There's a review of this movie up on the New York Times website, worth a read. The author hit the nail on the head saying that Shatner's "genial, relaxed self-absorption is a large part of his charm."

So, "The Captains"... Shatner is typical Shatner in some respects, and yet he is also so much better than that. He usually behaves as alpha male, and yet he is ingratiating with his guests. He loves to talk about himself, and yet he is also genuinely interested in others. Making this film was a very humbling experience for Shatner and you can see it in the content. There are a few rather blatant ego stroking moments that were no doubt purposefully left in after editing, as Shatner not only wrote but directed this production.

It's true that not all of these interviews are created equal. Some of them are all too brief and miss some important aspects. Some questions are raised in common across the guests and yet not all of them are fully heard. But you know, this couldn't have been a perfect work. It required a certain amount of liberty from the guests, who were allowed to influence the flow. Of all the interviews, I found the one with Patrick Stewart the most touching. The one with Avery Brooks the most endearing. The one with Kate Mulgrew wonderfully surprising. And the one with Scott Bakula delightfully honest. There wasn't much to do with Chris Pine, because he's so young and doesn't have nearly enough experience to contribute on the same level. But what we got was reasonably good.

The whole package deal is simply wonderful. We get what appears to be very candid and revealing interviews with key actors from the Star Trek genre, hosted by a deeply colorful man. This is the best off-screen Star Trek related material I've ever watched. It touched me in many ways, despite having to overlook some of Shatner's self-fawning. I will own it and watch it again and again, no doubt about it. It's the perfect send-off for the "old school" Star Trek franchise.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
This is one of the most oddly paced documentaries I've seen. The genius/madness/wackness of Shatner ground on me, initially, like nails on chalkboard, and his blatant interruptions of guests, not to mention somewhat horrendous "beat-poetry" with Avery, made me reach for my remote, finger hovering over the stop button.

But I came back to it, for what I would estimate as the last 3/4, and to say it redeemed itself would be an understatement. Like any eccentric character, you have to warm up to Shatners antics, and look for the sincerity amongst the ego. He'll interrupt Patrick Stewart, who is making a profound thought verbal, with some inconsequential question about the smallest of detail, yet tie it all together before its over with and give everyone enough latitude to truly make the interviews two-way. This is a unique but highly interactive interview technique, and as I saw more of it, I grew to like it.

There are some moments, as mentioned before with Avery, that leave you chuckling uncomfortably, but the majority of interactions between Shatner and his fellow captains are earnest, heartfelt, painful, uplifting, and humorous. Pine is the weakest link, but his time on this earth is a fraction of the others. Scott Bakula's catharsis with Shatner about divorce was poignant, and Stewart's earnestness about the love of his craft left me misty-eyed.

Speaking of misty-eyed, the shots from the convention really reminded me what I think most of us that love Star Trek are in it for: the celebration of the ideals and universe that Roddenberry imagined and many have developed into the mythos we have today. As quirky as Shatner is, he works the crowd with such expertise and mastery, you can see the mythical leader Kirk come out in what throughout most of the documentary appears a heavy-set, tired man. Add in the tangible love from the fans, the electricity in the air, and the cameo by Stewart, and you feel like you are in the crowd.

Shatner wraps it all up with an insight that seems so basic to the rest of us, but is brutally honest. The self-discovery portion of this film punctuates the ending to what started as an odd journey and ends with him saying out loud what we all know: if you are receptive to it, Star Trek can change your life.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2012
I wouldn't consider myself a Trekkie, but I am a Star Trek fan. I actually just got done spending a little over a year watching on Netflix every episode of Star Trek in the order that they came out. I even alternated between TNG/DS9 and DS9/VOY episodes in relation to when they aired alongside each other in real life and I worked in the movies as well. This seemed like a fitting capstone to the franchise before I move on.

There were some touching moments in this documentary. Even through Shatner's ego, I could see his vulnerability regarding his relationship with his larger-than-life character, Captain Kirk. He makes an honest attempt to bring the other actors into that light as well, but ultimately he kind of fails. It was hard to watch as the other actors started to get irritated with him and either talked over his interruptions or fell silent with a pained look on their face. I liked the Patrick Stewart and Scott Bakula interviews. The Chris Pine interview didn't get too much attention and the arm wrestling scene was just weird, but his role as Captain Kirk wasn't as significant as Shatner's anyway.

Totally uncomfortable and almost painful to watch were the Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew segments. Those two represented modern-day minority actors so their portrayals of Sisco and Janeway in positions of influence always topped my list of inspiring characters. So I was kind of disheartened to see that Avery Brooks seems to be suffering from some kind of mental illness ... or maybe he's just gotten VERY eccentric. Either way, not even Shatner seemed comfortable with the turns his interview took. The way Avery Brooks talked through most of his interview reminded me of the crazy babbling I find printed on the label of every Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap bottle I buy. That's not even to mention how Brooks kept breaking into loopy giggles and playing slightly disturbing chords on his piano the whole time.

The way Shatner treated Kate Mulgrew was just plain terrible and misogynistic. For a man who played a character from a time period where all of humanity has come together in a beautiful state of equality, for him to just come out and say that women were too hormonal to be good politicians, leaders, or captains was disgustingly sexist. What's worse, he badgered Mulgrew with these opinions until she was forced to kind of agree with him so he'd get off her case, even though other sources have always reported on her extreme pride in portraying the only female captain in Star Trek. Towards the end of the interview, she almost seemed close to tears. But who wouldn't be after someone basically insinuated that a woman will always make a poor leader (whether she be childbearing or menopausal) and is ultimately a bad mother for trying to have a career while raising kids ... whether it be a mother involved in acting or the fictional scenario of a starship captain.

I don't know. The documentary itself was surprisingly touching in some ways, and I'm glad I watched it, but I won't watch it again. It did its job for me. It was a conclusion to my time spent watching every episode and movie of Star Trek. As a fan but not a Trekkie, this enables me to give the franchise a loving pat and move on to something else to get into.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
I've got to give credit where credit is due! Actor William Shatner came up with an inspired idea in the documentary "The Captains" which adds a missing piece to the legacy of television's longest running space saga. Uniting the six actors that have been featured as Captains in the show's various interpretations, the movie would seem to have all of the elements necessary to make it essential viewing for Star Trek fans. I'm not sure, however, that Shatner (taking a writing and directing credit) hits his mark squarely. Expecting new insight into the franchise with marketing that promises an "exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a pop culture phenomenon," I actually thought the film had surprisingly little to say about Star Trek itself. If anything, the documentary's primary subject is acting as a craft and as a career with many of the face-to-face conversations seeming like a low-rent "Inside the Actor's Studio" but without the flair. Don't get me wrong--I would still recommend this to fans, it just fails to fulfill some of its promise.

At the heart of the film is Shatner himself. He is, at once, the film's most valuable asset and one of its primary weaknesses. He travels the globe (as far as England anyway) to sit down with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine. Shatner, as a persona, is as lively as ever. As an interviewer, however, he lacks a bit of focus constantly bringing any conversation back to what seems to be his favorite topic--himself. It is sometimes awkward, sometimes endearing. At the beginning of each interview, he seems to want to introduce some deep philosophical concept to make the casual get-togethers seem as if they are fraught with meaning. One of my favorite moments is when he is absolutely incredulous when Stewart says he was in an adult theater piece at the age of 12 (with bulging enthusiasm, "How did you get into a play with adults?" as if it were a strange concept for a budding thespian). Other odd moments include him singing along to Brooks' piano playing and the strangely sexist bend his interview with Mulgrew hits.

Through it all, though, Shatner is an enthusiastic guide. The interviews lack some insight, as I've mentioned. He is, after all, only sitting down with the individual participants for a couple of hours each. The footage from the Star Trek convention is fun enough and he tries to pepper the interviews with humor (arm wrestling, cardboard boxes). It's all light and pleasant enough without being particularly revelatory. Bonus points for adding Christopher Plummer to the roster (Why? Because he could). An entertaining film that misses out on its enormous potential, I'd still give it a look if it sounds at all interesting. Shatner so wanted to make a meaningful piece, but it really lacks any depth in actual relationship to the Star Trek franchise. And it certainly seems disingenuous when Shatner claims to have finally made peace with being James T. Kirk on the flight over to interview Stewart. Convenient timing! You truly have to be a Shatner fan to appreciate most of the movie--and if you are, enjoy! About 3 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 10/11.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2013
First and foremost: if you're not a Star Trek fan and you're watching this documentary you'll most likely be baffled, confused, and possibly shocked at times by the tremendous egos in play here. This isn't so much a deep examination of the actors who portrayed the captains in each Star Trek series as it is a collection of anecdotes and reflections by those actors about their time spent working on their respective shows, what they took away from the experience, and a brief overview of their motivations to enter the acting profession and their subsequent careers.

This is primarily a personality piece and it's a vanity project in the most vain sense of the word. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate William Shatner. It's kind of impossible to. Part of his charm is the fact that he's so full of himself. It's to the point in his old age (82 if you can believe it) that he's become a parody of himself, but such to the point that he *understands* that he's a parody of himself, which only somehow manages to fuel his ego more and make him even *more* full of himself than he was to begin with. It's a self-perpetuating cycle, but one that manages to make him endearing instead of irritating. It's evident in his opening monologue when he lays out his plan to meet with each actor on a globe-trotting adventure and maybe learn something about himself along the way... Mmm-hmm...

The film follows Shatner as he meets with each actor who portrayed the lead role, the captain, in each Star Trek series. Sir Patrick Stewart gets the most face-time with Shatner and reveals some striking things about his approach to acting with respect to his other priorities in life, his regrets, and the sacrifices he's made to his art. Indeed it is Stewart's dedication and professionalism that he brought to the role of Picard that leads Shatner to re-evaluate his feelings of "embarrassment" at having played Kirk, seeing him as something of a "lesser" role after working with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in his youth. Shatner's on-screen epiphany that Kirk is something to be proud of is doubtless supposed to be the personal revelation promised in the opening monologue, but it feels like ego-engineered pathos and it's one of the more uncomfortable aspects of the film. I'm sure it's tough for an actor to be so well-known for only one role, but judging by how often Shatner returns to Kirk and Star Trek in his later years (including his whole line of alternate-timeline "Shatnerverse" Star Trek novels which features a resurrected Captain Kirk adventuring alongside Captains Picard, Sisko and Janeway) it's hard to empathize with what seems like a manufactured plot device. And isn't this supposed to be a documentary?

In his interview with Kate Mulgrew, Shatner gets to touch on sacrifice again when she reminisces about her Voyager tenure as a single mother of two working impossible hours and not being able to be the mother she could have been. She also engages Shatner, in contrast to the schlocky shame/pride paraodx above, with a rather telling question of mortality. Turns out that Shatner is afraid of death and that he engages in work like making this film to help him feel more alive. This carries over into his discussions with Scott Bakula with whom he trades witticisms about, variously, the human soul, horses, and Broadway musicals. Out of all the captains, Bakula seems to be the most level-headed and down to earth. There are big egos and big personalities on display here and Scott just has that average Joe charm about him. Finally there is Chris Pine who is currently portraying Captain Kirk in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek. Oddly enough, he gets probably the smallest amount of time allotted despite playing a new version of Shatner's iconic character. There is some compare/contrast that occurs, but it seems like given the scope of what could have been discussed, Chris Pine gets a bit of a raw deal here.

I skipped over Avery Brooks for a reason. That reason is because Avery Books is crazy. His approach to answering William Shatner's interview-style questions is either to A) wax philosophical invoking some sort of quasi-beatnik urban spiritualism or, more often, B) grin steadily while playing some smooth jazz piano and riffing improvised lyrics with Shatner. It's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen, but it's strangely harmonious. Brooks and Shatner are somehow, impossibly, on the same wavelength in these moments. I've only watched this on my Prime account, but I can only hope that on the DVD there might be extended footage from this "interview" because it's probably the best part of the film for sheer entertainment value; Avery is one cool cat.

The film feels a bit unfocused at times, but for the most part each captain gets their fair share. Aside from the interviews with the captains, some other Trek alumni make brief appearances including Jonathan Frakes, Robert Picardo, Rene Auberjonois, and others. Of special note is Christopher Plummer, a friend from early in Shatner's career who gets a decent Q&A. We also get some archival footage of the various incarnations of Trek and few snippets of a Star Trek convention where Shatner prowls around photobombing unsuspecting fans and calling every female cast member he meets "the most beautiful woman ever to appear in Star Trek." In some moments he seems to be offering casual disdain for the whole thing while in others he's gleefully feeding the frenzy as much for his own fulfillment as anyone else's. In the end this is a move that William Shatner made about himself and he brought the other captains along for a ride. It's not the deepest or even most honest documentary you're going to find about this franchise, but it's definitely a decent snapshot of its biggest personality. That, in and of itself, is something to see.

Final thoughts: Probably doesn't offer up anything hardcore Trekkies don't already know, but it's a nice supplement for the rest of us, especially those of us who want to know what goes on inside William Shatner's head these days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
THE CAPTAINS (writ., prod., dir., host., narr. William Shatner, 2011, 97 minutes, Film Canada, for the Epix Channel) is one of the best and most profound documentaries I have ever seen. It goes beyond being an original 1st-generation Trekkie. It goes beyond the love for Captain Kirk. It delves into places where no one has gone before ~ and I loved every single second.

First off, allow me to be rightly understood. My wife and I are original Trekkies, so there was no such word when we were enjoying every minute of "Star Trek" on TV. This documentary is exactly what it advertizes: interviews with actors who have played captains of the Enterprise, plus an interview with Christopher Plummer who never played a captain of Starfleet. This IS about the ACTORS, including Shatner, not about "Star Trek" itself or any other thing. Actors are full of hot air: it's what they do for a living.

Shatner begins this documentary with a suddenness that is most fitting: he is off to chat with all the main actors who have played captains (all captains of the Enterprise with the exception of Avery Brooks, who was captain in "Deep Space Nine", and Christopher Plummer who was a Klingon general).

To England for Sir Patrick Stewart. To God knows where to listen to Avery Brooks groove on the piano. To a steaming hot New York City for Kate Mulgrew. Shatner visits Scott Bakula at some interesting California horse ranch. Right outside the gate at Paramount for Chris Pine (who was undoubtedly shooting the next STAR TREK which will be entered into our archives as STAR TREK 12 though it is titled STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS).

The entire film reminded me of Shatner's amazing stamina and youthful energy.

Intercut here are tiny bits of Shatner's beginnings at Stratford, Ontario; these alternate with Shatner's latest appearance at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas (where he appeared with Stewart). But the interviews are splendid, deep and revelatory. I have never learned so much about actors or acting as I did during this 97 golden minutes. Shatner has a way of bringing things out of people, and boy, does he do it here.

He interviews fellow Stratforder Christopher Plummer, known for playing Klingon General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ~ Plummer and Shatner are old, old friends who went back together almost to childhood.

Naturally, Chris Pine as the baby of the bunch got little screen time here (but Shatner says to him earnestly, "You're me fifty years ago!"). Scott Bakula, a perennial favorite of mine and my wife's gets almost as little screen time but all that is fine. Shatner draws out what he wants from them, and one feels satisfied.

There is much humor and the best quality of pathos which as far as I am concerned is 100% unscripted (because there are obviously scripted moments and one or two gags). However, the best is in each actor coming together with Shatner, seemingly for the first time ever, as former captains of the Enterprise.

They talk turkey about the brutal hours filming, the loss of family (Shatner and Bakula shared that in common) and breakups of marriages. They examine what Star Trek has done for each of them as actors and as people, not least of all Shatner. I was startled by his confession to Patrick Stewart that he had finally come to grips with his pride at playing Captain Kirk. He claims he had lived with something akin to shame over the whole thing.

An example of the pure joy of learning is Kate Mulgrew explaining her initial appearance on Star Trek Voyager: The Complete Series as captain of the Voyager. Many of us know Genevieve Bujold was hired and filmed for exactly one day ~ a breakdown of some kind which she suffered chased her off the set, and Mulgrew was immediately called in to replace Bujold. Mulgrew says little about that, merely referring to it as a sort of disaster that resulted in her participation as Captain Janeway.

Here, I got the honor of seeing Shatner, and all the other captains plus Plummer, in all their glory as people. Simple, ordinary people as I have always said actors are, riffing on acting and life. You cannot be a Trek fan without this. You cannot profess a love of cinema or the craft without this. It is an Oscar-worthy documentary film because it is an important historical document.

I can't imagine a Star Trek fan who would willingly miss seeing this film ~ or bitch about it.

MINOR UPDATE: Though it is my habit to try and ignore comments, there is one posted beneath this review and it made me think a bit. Let me humbly ask readers: if you hate Star Trek, what are you doing even reading reviews for this or any Star Trek-related film? If you hate Shatner, well, there's a long line stretching decades before you ever came along. PLEASE don't take it out on me or my review. The internet is full of hateful people: let's start changing that!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
And that's only because for some peculiar reason - time, likely - Chris Pine got all of maybe 15 minutes of the screen. Avery Brooks got a lot, and the majority of that was him singing and playing the piano, rather than the soul search we were promised. The only one who was worth the time was Sir Patrick Stewart, who told truly heartfelt tales that are sure to give you deeper insight into possibly the most memorable captain aside from Kirk himself. I especially was moved when he said that he was comfortable in his own company, that he'd made mistakes that led him to two divorces. You see them on the screen and you assume that they must be living the life - indeed, Stewart's estate is an amazing one - but they're just mortal like you and me, and the concept of this video...deeper knowledge into the people that touched our hearts...was a great one.

There are also some guest appearances by some of the secondary talent - Robert Picardo (The Doctor on Voyager), Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker on TNG), and Dominic Keating (Malcom Reed from Enterprise) most notably, who give their commentary on what it was like to work with each captain.

The breakdown:

Sir Patrick Stewart: Shatner meets up with Stewart at his England estate. Their discussion centers mostly around Stewart's extensive acting history, as well as what got him into it. They also go very deep with "what if" discussions of the future and how they both felt about doing Star Trek when they saw the scripts.

Avery Brooks: Shatner meets Brooks at his home in New Jersey, where he learns more about Brooks' musical background and interests. Brooks' part of the movie is really him communicating in song - whether you prefer that or not. You don't really learn about him like you'd expect to. It's difficult to follow him and Shatner.

Kate Mulgrew: Shatner meets Mulgrew in New York (I think), and they talk in a Broadway forum. Mulgrew's is likely the most uncomfortable, because the tension between the two begins to rise during their chat about her challenges being the first female captain in a mostly male-dominated environment. Both make equally good points, but you can cut the tension with a knife at times.

Scott Bakula: Shatner meets Bakula at his ranch in Canada (I think), and they talk about Bakula's attempt to recreate some of the chemistry found with Kirk, Spock and Bones...ultimately failing (his words which I agree with), but being proud to have been "the first captain".

Chris Pine: Shatner meets Pine at, of all places, a metal table out in front of Paramount, in Los Angeles. This one is the most bizarre. They arm wrestle. No, I'm serious. Pine doesn't get much time at all out of all of the captains, and there certainly is no soul searching. It's mostly talk about Pine's family being actors.

The movie is well worth the purchase and a worthy addition to any collection. My main complaint was Pine. He was the one I wanted to know more about since he was basically thrust into the role of a young Captain Kirk - large shoes to fill. Also, there were no commentary pieces from the likes of Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Zachary Quinto (Spock) or even the venerable Karl Urban (McCoy) from Enterprise. It was like an afterthought, or a brief spot where they felt compelled to fit them in somewhere. But I did enjoy learning more about Stewart, as in a lot of ways I modeled my personality around his, and I did take inspiration seeing him on the screen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
Having read several reviews about this documentary, most of which suggested that it was simply a vehicle for William Shatner's enormous ego, I decided to give it a try anyway.

This film was fun, insightful, entertaining, a bit off-beat, but most importantly, it was engaging.

To my way of thinking, William Shatner, if anything, set his "ego" aside and demonstrated that at the end of the day, he's just one more person walking the globe trying to make sense of it all. His interviews with the other "captains" are insightful and warm, and I found it quite fascinating to see how readily each of his subjects were able to open up about their experiences with not only the "franchise" that is Star Trek, but with their individual little pieces of it. How the shows in which they participated impacted their careers and their personal lives.

If you're looking for a documentary that focuses on the characters these actors and actresses played within the Star Trek universe, then you will be quite disappointed. Sure, some footage of the shows/movies is scattered around here and there, but that's not the point. No. The point of this film is to explore the people who played the roles of The Captains. What they brought to their roles, how they approached their jobs, and also--and perhaps more importantly--what they took *from* their roles when all was said and done.

Shatner's ego? I've been around enough show-biz people to know that everybody who's been around Hollywood for that long probably has a big ego. But I think William Shatner demonstrated an incredible humanity in this film. His interaction with each of the people he interviewed was genuine and I didn't catch a hint of condescension from him at any point. ...well maybe a few times with Avery Brooks...but who could blame him for that? I especially enjoyed footage of Shatner at a Star Trek Convention. He was funny, lively, a bit wacky at times, and also showed a broad streak of compassion in a moment that had to be rather tough.

Bottom line: This isn't a film about the tapestry that is Star Trek. This is a film about a few actors and actresses with a common thread that binds them within the fabric of that tapestry, but more so within their own careers.

"Of all the films about Star Trek I have encountered within my travels, this was the most...human."
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 9, 2012
The Captains is easily one of the most touching and thoughtful Star Trek documentaries that I ever have seen. I've seen many and none are this engaging

This is William Shatner's, now eighty years old, reflective and very personal look into the lives of the people that signed on to be these characters and pushing each one to basically unload the luggage and examine the cost on their personal lives because of their commitment to the show.

Eighteen hour days, day after day, year after year, while either being married -- or being a single mom, as Kate Mulgrew was with two very young children, Having families that never see you except on weekends, while you were wrecked and sleeping it all off just to recoup and go again ... this is the story that each one of them recounts back.

I think the first thought that most people who watch this will come away with, is that Avery Brooks has gone crazy ... but that's not really the whole story, and I doubt he is.

I've written before about Avery Brooks and Star Trek and how badly he was treated by the Producers in the franchise and by Paramount as a whole themselves. Avery basically talks to Bill Shatner through his piano, obliquely. Everything Avery says is evasive and a bit removed from the topic. He often shoots Shatner's question directly back to him.

While it is disconcerting, it is saddening to see that he's just not ready to talk about his experiences as Ben Sisko yet. It's too bad, too, as a lot of time has passed since Deep Space Nine, but obviously for Avery Brooks, not enough time. He is, very clearly, going through some of the same pains that Shatner did for many years regarding Star Trek, his role as Captain, his career after Star Trek and Paramounts handling of him.

Bill Shatner admits that he always felt a sense of `Derision' regarding his role and time on Star Trek, the fans, people saying `beam me up,' his legacy and leaving this world being known as `Captain Kirk.' It bothered him to no end, and when people on the street would tell him, year after year, that Captain Kirk and Star Trek changed their life, he inwardly never believed it and just thought that these people were hyped up and caught in the make-believe mystical nature of Hollywood and nothing else.

Patrick Stewart's deep devotion to Star Trek for the length of the show and not wanting the project to fail, cost him much in his own personal life which he had to turn his back on - giving him long-standing regrets. He had told himself that the job and the craft was more important than his own family - no joke. Patrick Stewart's interview woven through this film is touching, gratifying and explanatory on so many levels. Yes, you need to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate this, but as always, the message and the lesson here is much greater than Star Trek itself.

Patrick Stewart's conversation regarding his regrets is worth watching this for that alone, as I have often submitted to people that if you don't have any regrets, then you really haven't lived your life fully. Regrets are a natural condition of relationships and caring for people. I'm sure you can finish this thought by yourself. Watch it, and you'll probably never misunderstand that point again or have your own peace on it.

Kate Mulgrew's story about her life, her children and the impossibility of trying to work those long days, deliver the highly developed techno-speak embedded in the show, and be real - all while worrying about her two young children that she never got to see - and then having to emulate a constant, strong leader is incredible and creates a sad ironic absurdity that you just wouldn't expect.

Scott Bakula and Chris Pine are also interviewed and equally interesting. Both are honest and sincere and giving to Shatner's questioning, which is at times interruptive. But by the time you become heavily entangled in Patrick Stewart's narrative, it easily becomes the main theme.

This isn't about how Star Trek has changed our lives or technology, but something more inward - how Star Trek changed the lives of these people who would be Captain of the Enterprise and what it was that they lost from it and also what they gained.

I was riveted during the entirety of this and didn't expect to be. I've seen so many silly Star Trek documentaries that I thought I could just put this on in the background and get on with my day. No. I literally got nothing done in the last two hours except watch this from beginning to end and do a bit of soul searching myself regarding my own commitments.

You don't have to watch this for anything more than mild entertainment, but the material is there for deeper consideration if you're open to it.

Worth watching, and quite possibly more than once.

...
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
This is a case of right idea, great interviews, but the interviewer wasn't really up to the challenge. He is harsh in some areas and almost sugary at others. If you buy this, buy it for the actor's thoughts on the subject. The other captains do express some interesting insight to the concept of being a starship captain on Star Trek. However, Shatner takes us into the existential and the esoteric at times and really goes not into the concept of being in the role and what did they bring to the role, or even how it effected them in their work or their lives, but into their thoughts on other topics that have little to do with Trek.

I do realize that sounds a bit fan boyish in terms of the "let's stick to Star Trek" but really, the title is "The Captains" therefore, that is what we are here to watch and learn from. I gave it three stars because there are some good interview moments captured, but that has more to do with the photographer and the actor letting us in, than from the interviewing style of its director/producer.

I give Shatner credit for the concept, but he really needed someone else to help him with the execution.
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