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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » To Be Takei
To Be Takei
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // October 7, 2014
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted October 29, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE PROGRAM

To most George Takei is forever synonymous with the role of Hikaru Sulu, skilled helmsmen of the USS Enterprise. To a younger generation and/or those who have avoided "Star Trek," he's that funny old guy on Facebook. For me, George Takei was Sulu first, until I saw a story on a Sunday news program early in my youth. George Takei wasn't being interviewed about "Star Trek" or life as a celebrity; instead he was telling the story of Japanese American population being forced into internment camps during World War II and his experience as a child who lived a portion of his life in one. It was the first time I had even heard of the camps and to hear it coming from someone I viewed as larger than life, it made me fully comprehend for the first time in my young life, the concept of overcoming adversity.

In "To Be Takei" viewers are given a 90-minute glimpse into the very complex and inspiring life of George Takei. The film employs a very loose flow to the unfolding narrative and seems to do little more at first than follow George and his husband Brad around their daily life, while segments from George's appearances on the Howard Stern program bring to the forefront George's biggest contributions to humanity: advocacy for equality and bringing public awareness in regards to the internment camps. Over the course of the sharply paced documentary, we hear the story of a man who truly overcame a grave injustice perpetrated against his family, but was never allowed to fully express who he was for decades: a proud gay male..

Takei's own words are the most powerful spoken in the documentary whether through direct interviews or archival footage intermixed throughout to give viewers a sense of scope for George's advocacy for what in simplest terms is best described as: making the world a better place. Takei is a natural storyteller and his recollections are vibrant and candid; from his frank recollection of being aware that he was gay at a young age, to his outright apology for taking roles early in his career that perpetuated a negative stereotype. Most importantly, we get to catch a glimpse of the real George Takei and his caring and often hilarious relationship with Brad. The two often seem to forget the cameras are rolling as they bicker about mundane things common with any couple; I could be very wrong, but I'm willing to bet George allowed for such candidness to drive home a point he makes at least twice in the documentary: homosexuality isn't a lifestyle, it's an orientation. Brad and George's lifestyle is no different from any other average couple.

"To Be Takei" is unquestionably an inspiring tale and a great overview of the life and career of its subject. It's by no means a substitute for a great autobiography, but for the average fan, whether they are from his Star Trek days, Howard Stern appearances, or iconic Facebook posts, the stories told are relatable and quite heartfelt. There's much more to George Takei than the role of Hikaru Sulu and "To Be Takei" makes this abundantly clear.

THE DVD

The Video

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is acceptable for the documentary genre. Most original footage is clear, with only minor artifacting and above average detail. Archival footage is often rough, looking sourced from low quality digital recordings at times.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is massive overkill for this dialogue-centric affair. It's only during a few scenes of George's musical in rehearsal that the soundstage gets any real workout. Spanish subtitles are included.

The Extras

A selection of extra/deleted scenes make up the bonus features department for the disc.

Final Thoughts

Actor, activist, human being; George Takei may not have been the star of "Star Trek," but he has gone on to be a star in the realm of humanity. "To Be Takei" is well worth a viewing to see the fascinating life Takei has lived and witness his selflessness in using his celebrity status to raise awareness and ultimately make the world a better place. It truly is ok to be Takei. Recommended.

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