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.