Monday, July 10, 2017

The Truth Is in the Stars (2017)

Star Trek is ubiquitous.  Between the original series, four spin-off series and two sets of movies, you’d be hard pressed to find an adult who hasn’t at least heard of it.  William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original series, hosts a documentary on the effects the TV shows and movies have had on society.

It starts with Ben Stiller, who shows off his collection of Trek memorabilia.  A few of the items were props from the original series.  From there, we get interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan, and Jason Alexander, who had a guest appearance on Voyager.  Seth McFarlane and Neil deGrasse Tyson are also interviewed.  Things like the science of the show and the cultural impact are discussed, but not really in depth.  Shatner is shown talking with various people for a few minutes each.  His big goal, though, is to meet Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University.

The documentary is kind of light.  It’s more a way of briefly describing the show’s influence.  This isn’t the kind of thing that a hard-core fan would look to for behind-the-scenes stuff.  I don’t want to call it a long fluff piece.  It is entertaining to watch, but there are a lot of Star Trek documentaries out there.  This isn’t even the first one I’ve seen hosted by William Shatner.  It does seem to take a meandering approach to the interview with Hawking, which was also only a few minutes.

I do feel that the documentary could have done more with certain things.  There are a lot of interviews during the documentary’s 85 minutes.  It might have been more interesting to stick to cultural influences.  With Hawking as the main interview, we even could have had scientific advances that were derived from the show.  In addition to Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku are interviewed.  Both are known as science communicators.

I found the documentary streaming on Netflix.  This is exactly the kind of thing I’d recommend streaming.  Most people will be able to enjoy the movie, but I don’t think that there’s going to be a lot of replay value for the majority of viewers.  I liked the documentary, but this isn’t the kind of thing where I came away with any new insights into the show.  It’s more like a documentary made for those that haven’t watched every episode of all of the series.  It’s like you liked the show, but you’re not looking for some new bit of trivia.  If you can get it streaming, go for it.

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