George Takei is more than Sulu and "Oh my"
If Takei had never done anything but star in TV and movies as the helmsman of the Enterprise, his legacy would have been cemented forever, thanks to the Star Trek franchise's rabid fan base. This documentary certainly doesn't ignore this factor, showing Takei at a comic convention meeting his fans and interviewing co-stars like William Shatner (with whom he seems to share a strangely antagonistic relationship), Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols. But he has a long resume in popular entertainment, particularly important due to his position as one of the earliest highly-visible Asian actors, a part of his life that allows the film to explore the concept of racism in mass media, the effect his visibility had on fellow Asian-Americans (including the new Sulu, John Cho) and the compromises Takei had to make to achieve his success.
Race didn't only affect Takei in his professional life, but in his personal life as well, an element the film delves into effectively, as he talks about his time in an Arkansas internment camp following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II. Considering the treatment of black Americans for decades to follow, this kind of this should be no surprise, but it's still shocking to hear how Takei and his family, along with many other Japanese-Americans, were ripped from their homes and placed behind barbed wire for no reason other than their ethnicity. It makes perfect sense then that the experience would remain a big part of his life, as the film shows in looking at his participation in political elections and the musical he develops about the camps.
Social issues are a big part of Takei's life, and the film spends a good amount of time on one of his personal causes, marriage equality, a movement that finally allowed him to marry his long-time partner Brad, who gets some time in the spotlight here as well. Through interviews, and even some animation, we learn about how Takei came to understand his sexuality (including his first homosexual encounter), how he handled that part of his life in a less-enlightened time and the budding romance with his eventual husband. There's also a good deal on how Takei became an icon to the equality movement (partially from taking on basketball pro Tim Hardaway's hateful words) and how his involvement helped spark his pop-culture renaissance (including his popular Facebook account.) And, of course, the story of his wedding revives the contentious sparring with Shatner. The movie, like this incident, sums up Takei's life quite well: Star Trek, love and a sense of humor.
The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the kind of clean documentary presentation you'd expect and want from such a film, though the surround sound is limited, with the front side speakers being far more engaged than the rear, which only really kick in when score is present. As with most documentaries, the low-end isn't a large presence, but the overall presentation is solid and clear.
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