Movie Review: “To Be Takei” Is An Interesting Glimpse Into A Star’s Life

"To Be Takei"

A star’s trek for life, liberty, and love.

George Takei is an actor I grew up with, along with the rest of the cast from the original “Star Trek” TV show and the first six movies. Aside from his famous outer space persona, Hikaru Sulu, Mr. Takei has appeared in nearly 200 movies and TV shows including “Perry Mason”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Heroes”, “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Green Berets” with the legendary John Wayne. Apart from his continued acting career, he is a proponent of LGBT rights and married his longtime companion, Brad Altman, in 2008. As Mr. Takei ages more and more gracefully, his career has never been busier.

With “To Be Takei”, the filmmakers take us behind-the-scenes and into Mr. Takei’s personal life which, for the most part, isn’t very personal as he is very active in state and local politics as well as his work on human rights and Japanese–American relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum. One of the most touching aspects of the movie, was listening to him talk about him spending his childhood years in Japanese American Internment Camps, which were set up right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment which allowed local military commanders to designate “military areas” as “exclusion zones,” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona. It’s so hard to imagine in today’s politically correct environment, that something of this magnitude could be instituted but it was.

George Takei (far left) on the set of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

George Takei (far left) on the set of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few decades, then it’s no secret that Mr. Takei and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, have never gotten along, even during the early years of “Star Trek”. I actually read one of Mr. Shatner’s books about the making of the show and the movies and the effect they had on pop culture and he even admitted that he wasn’t very easy to get on with. When Mr. Takei married his longtime companion in 2008, he stated that he sent invitations out to the remaining “Star Trek” cast but only Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Walter Koenig (Chekov) attended.

Leonard Nimoy stated that he was out of town and in an interview, Mr. Shatner exclaimed that he never received an invite. It’s been stated over the years, that he is homophobic and it was obvious that he just didn’t want to attend a same-sex wedding and it shows, painfully, in an excerpt from the interview. Mr. Takei is a larger than life personality and we see him greeting fans, cheerfully and graciously, at “Star Trek” conventions and just going about his everyday routines, whether it’s politically motivated or just him and his partner out walking together.

“To Be Takei” is a great insight into a celebrity who just happens to be more active now in his seventies than he’s ever been and because of his political and personal views and opinions on some of today’s very topical issues, is being introduced to an entirely new generation of fans. Recommended.

In theaters August 22nd

to_be_takei

James McDonald

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
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