DVD Review: THE CAPTAINS written & directed by William Shatner

I just watched William Shatner’s THE CAPTAINS. Oh My God!

It is jaw dropping unbelievable. It’s like a god damn train wreck. Avery Brooks either has dementia or is on a different dimension (and I say that with no joy, being a huge Avery Brooks fan, but yeah his portions are cringe inducing), Shatner is attacking and trying to make Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart cry. He’s openly jealous and arm wrestling Chris Pine. The only one he kinda gets along with is Scott Bakula, and mostly because Bakula feeds into his ego, and the rest of the episode is William Shatner going down memory lane and shamelessly looking for compliments at every turn.

It really is painful to watch at times, and I say that, also being a huge fan of William Shatner. That said, when Shatner’s ego and showmanship gets out of the way, it’s good viewing. The convention riff at the end is a lot of fun. And there is some good moments between Stewart and Shatner. And good revelations between Mulgrew and Shatner.

All in all, train-wreck moments aside, it’s incredibly important what Shatner has written and directed here. The cringe worthy moments accepted, endured, fast forwarded… at the end of the day, we’re all better for Shatner having immortalized these reminisces. In many ways it’s William Shatner’s last word on the iconic character he created.

Shatner a man perhaps feeling distinctly his mortality, making a concrete capper to his career and his life. Much of this is a vanity project, an auto-biography of self, window dressed as an interview with others. William Shatner utilizes the other actors to tell his story.

William Shatner trying to immortalize his place in this enduring mythology called Star trek, to not be lost in this new Christopher Pine age. So on that level, THE CAPTAINS is at heart a very selfish vanity project.

However, that said, Shatner does his homework, and does allow actors to come to terms and discuss arguably the most iconic role of their respective careers. And it does, by weight of just the actors involved, become a bit of cinematic history, as none of the actors are getting any younger and this film is arguably the last time all six of the actors who played the role of Captain will ever share a film together.

And to have William Shatner helm such a meeting, well… all things said… who has more right to do so.

It deserves at least a rental, and for those who count themselves as fans, possibly a purchase. It’s worth a look and has by its very nature become something that will, its relative quality issues aside, stand the test of time. Forty years from now when only Chris Pine, and the captains that follow him remain, people will dig out this film, to find out who Shatner and Stewart and Brooks and Mulgrew and Bakula were.

And if that is Shatner’s gift to himself and his family, at the end of the day, it’s also a gift to us, a gift to posterity. There are worse gifts to get.


  1. Somebody should do a CAPTAINS II with an impartial interviewer who is not tied so intimately with STAR TREK. It’s a fascinating idea even if the execution is flawed and I appreciated William Shatner’s doing it. And now, here’s what I thought of the various interviewees:

    Avery Brooks is delightfully nuts. I found it both irritating and intriguing how no matter what subject Shatner wanted to talk about, Brooks related to it as improvisational jazz and used constant jazz terms and references. he is a cat who is operating on an entirely different level form the rest of us.

    I really don’t know what to make of Kate Mulgrew. I don’t even think Kate Mulgrew knows what to make of Kate Mulgrew.

    Chris Pine and Scott Bakula are both far too nice and normal for them to be in the Star Trek Universe. Especially Bakula who comes off as the most down-to-earth and grounded of all the Captains.

    Patrick Stewart’s interview was the best. I don’t use this term often and when I do I mean it. Sir Patrick is DEEP, man.

  2. And I think that Scott Bakula, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart were allowed to MOVE ON in a way William Shatner never could, you know? Even though William Shatner continued working in television in other TV series he wasn’t allowed to get away from Star Trek the way the others captains have been able to. And I think it took him a LONG time to embrace it the way his fellow Star Trek captains already have.

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