As inevitable as it was that William Shatner — the man who has spent the last 55 years living in the shadow of a world-famous television character — would go to space, so is it that Amazon produces a documentary about the landmark event. Shatner in Space — the 45-minute look into the man’s journey to space and back – is, ultimately, one massive advertisement for Blue Origin and its founder, Jeff Bezos… but it also does contain key insights that Shatner’s fans and Earth-loving people everywhere will appreciate.
To start, we were surprised by how much this documentary touched on. From Shatner first meeting Jeff Bezos and touring Blue Origin’s rocket facility some two years ago, to Shatner telling his wife and daughter that he is going to space (note: he told them he is), to a little bit of “astronaut training” (a term we’re putting in quotes because this training was little more than a presentation of what would happen during the mission and some simulations of what it would be like in the capsule, nothing remotely like the multi-year, multi-discipline astronaut training of old). We also see Shatner sit down with former NASA astronaut Mike Good, some reaction videos of Star Trek fans at New York Comic Con learning of his upcoming space flight, and finally, and most importantly, we see more of Shatner and crew during the mission.
Unlikely a surprise to anyone who has absorbed Shatner’s autobiographies, interviews, and even albums, this documentary gives viewers a healthy dose of Shatner’s outlook about the grand nature of life, space travel, and the Earth itself; yes, the man certainly has a penchant for philosophizing. It’s a charming aspect of his on-screen personality, and this documentary is only served well because it allows Shatner room to do this.
Watching the interior capsule view of Shatner and crew as the Blue Origin spacecraft launches and ascends toward the Kármán line — the point where one leaves Earth’s atmosphere and enters space – is fascinating, just as it was watching it live on launch day. But in Shatner in Space, viewers get a bit more than what we saw on television or in a couple of viral clips post-launch. Shatner’s awe is infectious; you can tell he is utterly enthralled in the experience, and having the previous thirty minutes of documentary for context makes Shatner in space hit even harder than before. You can’t help but feel for the man. He was scared to strap himself to a rocket and ascend toward the heavens, but by Grabthar’s Hammer he did it, and the life-changing results are evident.
Jeff Bezos is a controversial figure, sure, and unsurprisingly this documentary doesn’t shy away from presenting him in a visionary light. A small part of the production is dedicated to explaining why he had the vision to create Blue Origin – and that vision included a childhood captivated by Star Trek and other science fiction. A touching part of the documentary is when Bezos asks Shatner for a favor just before launch; he asks if Shatner, his childhood icon, would carry with him to space some Star Trek drawings Bezos made in the fourth grade. How could you not be moved by this? It’s a moment that illustrates extraordinarily the impact Star Trek had on a man who is now working to make Earth and its people spacefaring and more sustainable. We’re not thrilled with this documentary generally being an ad for Blue Origin, but we admit this is a touching inclusion.
Taken together, Shatner in Space was better than we were expecting. Clearly, this documentary was in production long before Shatner’s flight on October 13, 2021, and fans who want a more complete picture of this famous event should definitely check it out — just be mindful of the promotional nature of this production.
Shatner in Space is now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Stay tuned to TrekNews.net for all the news on Star Trek merchandise releases, along with the latest details on Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Prodigy, and more.