Review: The Captains Close Up: With William Shatner (DVD)

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Title: The Captains Close Up: With William Shatner
Format: DVD
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Studio: Epix Pictures
Original MSRP: $19.98
Number of Discs: 1
Language: English
Subtitles: English
MPAA Rating: NR

Audio Review:
The audio review for this disc is available on Episode 332 of the podcast.

Story:
The Captains Close Up is a follow-up to William Shatner’s 2011 documentary simply called The Captains. While the original covered everyone to a certain extent, it still had a heavy focus on Shatner himself. In revisiting the hours and hours of film, five half-hour shows were produced and aired on Epix. By repurposing footage from the original documentary and adding in some unused takes, we get a tighter, more focused look at each of the actors who have portrayed Captains on the various Star Trek series.

This documentary stands well enough on its own, but can easily be seen as a companion piece to the original. Where The Captains tended to meander and get off track at times, stripping each episode down to focus entirely on one actor was clearly the better choice. We get more information from the actors themselves along with the co-stars of their respective shows.

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During the William Shatner episode, he sits with Chris Pine to discuss how he came into acting in general and Star Trek in particular. It’s a pattern that’s repeated across the episodes with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula.

For a fan of Star Trek, each episode is packed with interesting tidbits about the actors and their lives, especially growing up. It’s easy to see that a lot of care and effort was put into the production. Now in his early 80’s, Shatner has honed his craft and become quite an adept interviewer, pulling painful and formative memories from several of the other actors. It really holds your interest throughout.

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Video:
Some beautiful establishing shots lead to the interviews which each take place in a comfortable setting, the actor’s homes, a small theater stage, at a horse ranch. The lighting is always excellent and with multiple cameras on each shoot, some really well placed angles are chosen in the editing, breathing life into what could have been an otherwise static setting.

Audio:
There’s not much to say here, it’s a documentary after all filled with interviews. The audio is clean and clear throughout. One interesting side note though is the music. Shatner asked Avery Brooks to create the music and he pulled in a friend of his, the very talented jazz pianist, Andy Milne. The music they put together is very light and balanced, perfect for the accompanying visuals.

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Bonus Features:
I suppose that since this entire disc can be seen as a bonus feature for The Captains, the paltry offerings here can be forgiven. We have just a pair of short interviews with William Shatner that were cut from the original documentary.

  • The Paramount Fire of 1983 (1:12) – Shatner discusses his role in putting out a fire on the set of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • The Merger of Desilu and Paramount (1:40) – Shatner discusses the merger of the two companies

Conclusion:
For a fan of Star Trek, this borders on the must-have. Offering up insights into the iconic actors themselves, The Captains Close Up works well as both a stand-alone and a companion piece to The Captains. Most people have only ever seen the actors on screen portraying other people, getting this rare glimpse (especially in the case of Avery Brooks) into the lives of the actors themselves is a welcome treat.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the movie using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

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