The Truth Is in the Stars is pretty new (only a few days old now, since its release), and I almost never get to see documentaries that quickly after release. The premise of this documentary sounded interesting: William Shatner travels around and talks to various scientists and others about how Star Trek has influenced the world. He also asks each person what they would ask Stephen Hawking if they were able to meet him. Unfortunately, the execution of the idea didn’t work quite so well.
I’m a huge fan of some of the people Shatner met on his journey. Michio Kaku is one of my top two or three “scientists that make deep topics reasonably understandable to us plebes”. Their discussion touched briefly on a number of interesting topics: string theory, quantum mechanics, relativity, and the birth of the universe. All of these are topics I enjoy studying. Sadly, their discussion never took the time to really explore anything.
The same topics were brought up with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, though I’m not as big a fan of anything with him in it. I find he comes across as arrogant and rather dismissive of anyone who doesn’t have alphabet soup after their name. In The Truth Is in the Stars, however, he was much more personable than in previous shows.
The odd choices in the mix were the actors and film/television industry people: Seth MacFarlane, Ben Stiller, Jason Alexander, and Whoopi Goldberg. While their conversations were fun, they didn’t really fit the “seeking answers to life, the universe, and everything” mold the documentary was trying to fit. Oddly, I enjoyed these vignettes the most. I was sad that MacFarlane didn’t bring up The Orville. Unless this documentary was worked on for quite a while, The Orville had to already be in production when they were filming the documentary. A missed opportunity, I think.
The most interesting conversation with a scientist in The Truth Is in the Stars was with Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who was on the International Space Station for a while. They discussed possible missions to colonize the Moon and Mars, what kinds of sacrifices the astronauts would have to make, and what it was like to be weightless. Rather than it feeling superficial, I really felt a connection between the two during their conversation. Hadfield seems like an awesome guy.
The final part had Shatner meeting Stephen Hawking. Shatner was understandably and visibly excited about the prospect. I know it was exciting when I got to seem him over 20 years ago when he visited a nearby university to give a speech. Hawking is a giant in his field, and even though I think he’s wrong about a number of things, I respect him for how much time and effort he puts into it all. He is definitely a very smart man.
In the end, The Truth Is in the Stars reminded me a bit of Star Trek V: there were a lot of interesting parts in it, but the flow was wrong and meandered far too much. This made the experience far less enjoyable than expected. It was worth watching once, but I don’t plan to collect it.
Release Date: November 8, 2017 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: 2 (some stronger, occasional mild and deity)