2014, Movies

Chaos on the Bridge (2014, William Shatner)

This is an entertaining but brief and hilariously over-directed documentary about the beginnings of Star Trek TNG. It feels like it was made as a DVD extra or for some TCM-type special but it turns out Shatner has made a few of these so maybe there was a series of them for some channel.

So, to get this out of the way, this movie is hilariously over-directed. Shatner uses animation and weird camera angles to try to liven things up. And it’s super conspicuous and awkward a lot of the time. Occasionally, it might add to the content, but mostly it’s a distraction from what turns out to be a pretty captivating film.

The other rather unfortunate thing is how much Shatner puts himself into the film. This is not a surprise, Shatner has a legendary ego, but it would be nice if he was maybe not so much the focus of this. It’s much more of a minor nitpick than the over-direction, though.

On the whole, this is surprisingly entertaining and interesting. The interviews are pretty frank and honest. There are a few too many talking heads to keep track of for such a short film but they all seem to have said what they thought and felt. Their honesty makes the whole thing feel pretty accurate. And some of them have some good stories.

Given the sheer number of interviewees, it’s kind of weird this isn’t longer. I assume Shatner was told to make it an hour for TV. But there feels like there could have been a lot more to tell. Still, it was far more interesting than it seemed like it would be when it started.


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