Weekend Roundup: William Shatner’s The Captains

StarTrekTheMotionPictureLogoThe Star Trek fever is full on this weekend. At least it seems like it is, though only a blockbuster THIS magnitude that an $84 mil four-day total is still considered a box office disappointment. Apparently Star Trek Into Darkness did not quite hit the warp-speed at the box ffice, well-short of the studios’ – Paramount, Skydance Pictures and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions – $100 mil expectation. I have a feeling they won’t have trouble making up the $190 budget (+ marketing) when it’s all said and done though.

So did you all see it? Well, if you read my review of sort on Friday, you’ll know that Abrams’ have now piqued my interest about the whole Star Trek universe. So this weekend my hubby and I were planning on seeing the first feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s not available on Netflix Streaming. I didn’t want to see the follow-up The Wrath of Khan as people have been saying I should watch them in order. I’m even more curious to see the first movie as apparently Robert Wise directed it, known for classics like West Side Story, The Sound of Music and also his Oscar-winning film editing for Citizen Kane. In any case, we ended up watching Shatner’s documentary titled appropriately…

The Captains (2011)


The Captains is a feature length documentary film written and directed by William Shatner. The film follows Shatner as he interviews the other actors whom have portrayed Starship captains within the illustrious science-fiction franchise.

I was already curious about this documentary for some time but I think after seeing the latest Star Trek film, and before I embark into watching more from this franchise, it definitely is the right timing to watch this. This is a must for any Trekkie, but I’d think that casual Star Trek watchers would appreciate this documentary as this is such an iconic franchise and most likely you’d know the people playing the Captains even if you haven’t seen the shows/films.

ShatnerInaBoxI’m glad Shatner decided to do this film, and I found him to be a good interviewer, even if it’s challenging to get into much depth when you’ve got half a dozen people to interview in just 1.5 hour. He first traveled to England to meet up with Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart, who portrayed the second most famous after Shatner’s Captain Kirk, and that is Jean-Luc Picard. I really enjoyed the interview in his beautiful home with magnificent English garden, and I feel that this is one of the most enlightening interview in regards to the two of them. It’s perhaps because Shatner was a huge admirer of Stewart’s talents and stage performances, but they’re also closest in age compared to other actors. I didn’t know that Shatner was also a classical Shakespearean actor, and was an understudy of Christopher Plummer. He also interviewed Plummer briefly as he later on played a one-eyed Klingon. This is all very amusing!

Shatner showed genuine interest in every single one of the subjects he interviewed, and he seemed intrigued about how playing The Captain has changed each of their lives, the good and the bad aspects of it. Shatner commiserated with all of them on how the crazy hours and laborious filming schedule took a toll on their families, especially on a single mother like Kate Mulgrew. At times, the conversation got really personal with Kate as she lamented on her struggle being the sole female captain ([protagonist) in a man’s world like Hollywood whilst raising two young kids by herself.


Shatner seems at ease with each of the actors, I guess his personality is such that people are naturally drawn — and perhaps amused — by him. The highlights for me was the Patrick Stewart interview and Shatner arm-wrestling with Chris Pine, 50 year his junior, ahah. I learned a bit more about each of the actors, and discovered Scott Bakula and Avery Brooks’ musical roots. I had known Brooks from his days playing Hawk in one of my favorite 80s show Spenser For Hire. I love the duet of them at the piano. The bits of Shatner at the Star Trek convention delighting unsuspecting Trekkies are a hoot, and it really keeps things in perspective. Some people might consider him pompous for being embarrassed for being known as a Star Trek captain, but I kind of understand where he’s coming from given his classical training.

I really enjoyed this documentary, and the fact that I found Shatner amusing helps make it so. Yes he’s got an ego the size of Texas and he’s at times ridiculous, but the 82-year-old sci-fi icon is well aware of that and that makes him so darn entertaining. Definitely give this one a shot if you’re looking for a fun and enlightening documentary!

4 out of 5 reels

EPICanimationlogoOh, I also went to a press screening for 20th Century Fox’ latest animated feature EPIC. I quite enjoyed it, visually dazzling and surprisingly moving. I can’t review it yet due to embargo, but I’d recommend it for kids and adults. It’s not nearly as goofy as FOX’s more slapstick features like Ice Age and Rio btw, which is a welcome change actually. Not sure why they’re calling it EPIC, I mean it’s not quite as epic as say The Lion King, but still a pretty darn good one.

So that’s my weekend roundup folks. How about you, seen anything good?

37 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: William Shatner’s The Captains

  1. Ted S.

    I didn’t make it to the IMAX theater this weekend to see Into Darkness, hopefully later in the week. I’ve never heard of this Star Trek documentary before, not sure if I want to watch it though. I like Star Trek movies but I’m not that big of a fan of the franchise. BTW. I think the first Star Trek film of the Shatner era was the best one, I thought Wrath of Kahn was way overrated; don’t hurt me Trekkies, lol.

    I did see a new movie, well to me anyway, The Cabin in the Woods. It’s only $8 at Target so I bought it; the film was actually quite fun. A good spin on the horror genre.

    1. Oh bummer Ted! I guess if you’re lukewarm about the franchise you might not enjoy it as much as I did, but hey you never know. I’m super curious to check out the first ST movie now that I know Robert Wise directed it!

      I still need to see Cabin in the Woods even though I’m not usually into horror.

  2. Ooo the documentary sounds interesting. I did see a thing on tv one time that talked about all the various captains, but I don’t think it was this… I don’t remember shatner being in it at all (obviously they talked about Kirk, I just mean that his present day self did not appear on the show). Sounds interesting, I might give it a look. Going through the original series right now, I’m on episode five and it’s been quite an experience so far 🙂

    1. Hi Hunter! It is indeed. Surprisingly Shatner doesn’t talk about himself too much here, ahah, though of course I’m curious about his take on playing the Captains. I definitely think it’s worth a look if you’ve been enjoying the original series.

  3. Really interested in seeing “The Captains” especially after seeing your review! Hello Netflix queue!

    As for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, I never could make it through it. I don’t think it’s all that good and you could easily jump to Wrath of Khan and be just fine (IMHO). That’s where I would start from. I still have a couple of those original series films to catch up with myself!

      1. No I haven’t seen that. I’m intrigued. It seems like a movie that I need to like yet unfortunately I haven’t been able to latch onto it. Maybe I ought to look that version up.

        1. Ted S.

          I’m with Michael on this Keith, do you check out the director’s cut of original film. It’s definitely more of a true sci-fi film then any other one in the series. In fact, the whole film hardly have any action scenes in it and it’s my favorite one in the Shatner era.

          1. It’s been a long time since I last watched it but my reaction wasn’t due to the lack of action scenes. I just remember that it never seemed to get its legs under it. But you fellas are much more familiar with it so it sounds like I need to give it another try. Directors cut this time!

            1. Thanks for the suggestions guys! I’m sooo tempted to see Wrath of Khan (which is available on Netflix) Keith, but Michael said I should watch ’em in order 😀 Hmmm, how am I gonna get the director’s cut? I doubt that’d be available on iTunes??

  4. Ah…you have become a Trekie (I forgot the right spelling) 😉

    I watched Shatner and Stewart era…I really like Stewart, Captain Picard is so charismatic

    1. Yes Picard is indeed charismatic, well Patric Stewart is, so naturally 😀 Ahah no, I think I have ways to go to call myself a Trekkie 😀

  5. Rich

    As I said when I wrote about it, ‘The Captains’ is really about acting: the craft, the business, the personal toll it takes (especially weekly television acting) as well as the rewards. One absolutely does not have to be a Trekkie to appreciate this.

    1. You’re absolutely right Rich! It’s fascinating to learn the personal toll it took for a lot of those TV actors, esp. for Kate. She came across very proud and defiant in the interview though, but I guess it really was a far more challenging job for her compared to the others.

  6. The Captains sounds great! Thanks Ruth. Adding it to my watchlist.

    I watched Julia starring Tilda Swinton over the weekend, and it was excellent. She was robbed of an Oscar nomination! Among other things, I also rewatched Star Trek and saw Star Trek
    Into Darkness, of course. 🙂

    1. I’m glad Netflix streaming has this one Josh, definitely worth a look.

      Oh I should check out Julia, I quite like Tilda Swinton. Somehow at first you said Imelda Staunton, ahah. Star Trek fever was high everywhere it seems 😉

  7. bdgill12

    Glad to hear this is good. I added it to my queue a while back but haven’t watched it yet. Looking forward to it now!

        1. Ahahaha, my bad, sorry!! I thought you’re commenting about The Captains, ahah. Yeah, EPIC is quite fun, I really enjoy the gorgeous, lush visuals but the story isn’t vapid either (unlike Jack The Giant Slayer, avoid that if you can).

  8. Hi, Ruth and company:

    I caught ‘The Captains’ on IFC (Independent Film Channel) last year and Shatner’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk still owns the bridge and the conn. Simply because he was first and brought to life the “drop of a hat” immediacy and chance of going to Knuckle Junction during the Cold War.

    When and where the Federation was the US. The Klingons were the Russians and something as trivial as Tribbles could bring about serious discussions and possible implementation of “Mutual Assured Destruction”. Thoughts that were in the back of the heads of myriad kids growing up in the 1960s.

    While TNG’s Picard was solidly ensconced in the world of UN negotiation and diplomacy of its time on television. And DS9’s Sisko was a bit of a throwback to Kirk and the Cold War. With the Cardassians and Bajorans as both Germanies, countless “stans” and breakout countries after the Berlin Wall fell.

    Excellent breakdown and critique of a well structured, informative documentary!

    1. Hello Jack, as always you’re way ahead of me 😀 “Shatner’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk still owns the bridge and the conn.” YES I’d agree and that’s why I’m glad he decided to do this doc as it’s most appropriate coming from him.

      How interesting to hear that “the Federation was the US. The Klingons were the Russians”… I guess it makes sense during the Cold War. It’s amazing the historical/cultural relevance the shows are in each version. Thanks for the great comment as always!

    1. It’s easy to track down Adam, it’s on Netflix streaming 😉 But yeah, it’s pretty fun, Shatner is perfect, I’m surprised the guy doesn’t have his own talk show!

  9. Hi Ruth, sorry for not dropping by lately. I have been on the go constantly for the last couple weeks and haven’t even had the time to write myself (aside from the weekly poll). I was actually up near your neck of the woods last weekend — er, sort of, I was in Eau Claire, WI. I think it’s 90 miles east of Minneapolis..? Anyway, glad to see you have been keeping busy with FlixChatter! Now begins the fun part of catching up on everything I have missed. 😀

    1. Hey, not a problem man. I see lots of people are taking a bit of a break lately, I guess I should too, ahah. I’ve actually never been to Eau Claire, well maybe I passed by it once a long while ago. Hey, if you’re ever in Mpls, we have to meet up ok?

  10. The main movie going thing I took part in was my viewing of Star Trek Into Darkness (which you have already commented on — thanks).

    The Captains sounds cute.

    I also spent this weekend reorganizing myself blog wise (got sick I think from all the film stuff and needed a bit of a break).

    1. I hear ya Iba. I’ll be taking a break in early June as I’m going to San Diego, and maybe in the Summer months I might cut my blogging time to only 3 days a week. Well I’ve been saying that for months but hasn’t happened yet 😀

  11. Had heard of this one, but decided to skip it, reading your review makes me reconsider now, even though I have only seen the movie and the Patrick Stewart version of the series.

    1. I actually have only seen the Abrams’ movie versions but you really don’t have to have seen the others to enjoy this. I find the interviews to be insightful and entertaining, hope you enjoy it Nostra.

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