Film review: To Be Takei meanders through a long and prosperous life

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To Be Takei screens as part of the 2014 DOXA Documentary Film Festival.

Television’s most famous helmsman is the subject of a full-length documentary screening as the 2014 DOXA Documentary Film Festival presents To Be Takei, a look at the life of actor, activist and social media phenomenon, George Takei.

While Takei’s work on the disproportionally short-run, long-lived 1960s television series and subsequent movies remain a big focus of Jennifer M. Kroot’s biographical documentary, it is Takei’s activism for redress of the Japanese internment camps during World War II that is the most gripping and heartfelt.  It is within this dark and emotional part of Takei’s life that you will wish Kroot had spent more time.

Instead, Kroot attempts to give equal opportunity to Takei’s work on Star Trek, his other work in television and films, his private life, LGBTQ activism, life as a child in an internment camp and the development of a new musical based on his experiences in those camps.  In an attempt to humanize Takei somewhat from his celebrity status, husband Brad is pushed into the limelight, and while he will understandably never have the same film presence of his more famous spouse each appearance stalls the film.  It doesn’t help that Kroot fails to find a cohesive narrative to bring it all together; instead the filmmaker meanders through the various parts of what makes up Takei, and while interesting, it never fully satisfies.

Despite its structure, To Be Takei is still an interesting look at a man who may just surprise you as to how much he has accomplished so far in his life.  Full of a seemingly boundless energy and optimism at age 77, you are left with the feeling that even with a life already so full, there is still much more to offer.  Live long and prosper Mr Sulu.

To Be Takei screen as part of the 2014 DOXA Documentary Film Festival on Thursday, May 8 at the Vancouver Playhouse.  Visit http://doxa.ca for tickets and information.

Mark Robins on Google+

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