‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Sequel is Important Yet Somehow Almost Pointless

An_Inconvenient_SequelAt this point you’re either on the global warming bandwagon or you’re not, so I’m not really sure who this film was made for…

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is the follow-up to the 2006 Oscar-winning documentary that depicts former Vice President Al Gore’s quest to combat climate change. Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk direct.

Reviewing a film like this is difficult for a few reasons. First off, the subject of the documentary is political, so I have to try to not let my own feelings on the subject, whichever way they may sway, affect my review of the product itself or offend any reader. Also I just find reviewing documentaries in general a bit more challenging than a narrative film because they’re so contrarily constructed and have different goals beyond entertainment. “An Inconvenient Sequel” is at times interesting and at other times angering and will preach to its intended choir, but it never really feels like much of anything besides a highlight of Gore’s exhaustive efforts over the past decade.

From a cinematography standpoint, the film looks great. Al Gore’s talking heads are shot cleanly and there are some gorgeous views of what our world has to offer, such as artic glaciers. A lot of the film is composed of Gore walking through hallways or of stock news reports, so there wasn’t too much “new” footage needed to be compiled, but what they did get is well done.

The film is also paced well, which can sometimes be a problem documentaries run into. Clocking in at 99 minutes, I never felt the urge to check my watch and by the time the credits began to roll I felt that it had been a brisk hour and a half, not excruciatingly more, not a rushed less.

The point of a documentary is often to inform, and that is where the film begins to reveal its flaws. Nothing in here is really new information, anyone who owns a TV or scrolls through a Twitter feed knows Miami has been flooding more often than normal and that Trump has promised to pull back on green initiatives. While some of the footage may be images we’re not used to personally seeing, you don’t need to pay $12 a ticket to check it out; just do some hopping around YouTube.

And here’s where I’m sure I will upset some people but I noticed it and it’s the film being misleading so I feel obligated to mention it. At several points throughout, Gore takes us to the small Tennessee ranch that he grew up on. The place looks modest and quaint, certainly the home that a pro-green American would hang their hat. However Gore’s second house is a massive mansion that in one month uses more energy (about $2,400) than the average American home uses in a year. Gore caught flack for this back when the first film came out but since they clearly were trying to paint him as innocent here again it is a bit asinine.

The entire climax of the film is about the Paris Agreement and the struggle to get India to agree to terms, because India simply states they do not have the money to commit to green energy. Gore and his team rack their brains and the clock is ticking, until suddenly they emerge from a room to say that India has agreed to sign. The film never mentions the fact that the US will foot India’s bill and, despite being the 4th largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world, they won’t have to pay a dime. The film paints Gore as an 11th hour hero, but to me what we needed to do to get India (and China, for that matter) to sign was too big a deal to just simply ignore.

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is watchable and by definition important. No matter what you may think of his views or possible hypocrisy it is hard to knock Al Gore’s dedication to this cause, and it is an important one at that (I need the world to be here until at least 2021 so I can see my “Boss Baby” sequel). It’s just at this point we know Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement (this was filmed and actually premiered before that, though), so as I sat there watching this film I was overcome with a “what’s the point of all this?” sense. If you believe climate change is real and man-made then you’re going to enjoy this film but you don’t need convincing; if you think that it is overblown and fake news then you’re not even going to watch this. The planet may be getting warmer but I was only lukewarm about this film, and depending on where you fall on the political spectrum will determine how much enjoyment and knowledge you get out of this yourself.

Critics Rating: 6/10

An Inconvenient Sequel - Still 1
Paramount Pictures

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