Monday, February 19, 2018

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. A Review


While billed as a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, the global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is not so much about how the first film has been proven correct and how we are hurling down towards the eve of destruction.

It really ends up as All About Al, or on how former Vice President Al Gore is now not going to put up with your crap anymore and he's going to fix the world Al By Himself.

The film touches on aspects that An Inconvenient Truth hit on, most contentiously on his prophesy that the World Trade Center Memorial was going to be underwater unless global warming was arrested.  What was dismissed as ridiculous back in 2006 has now come to pass when Superstorm Sandy flooded the September 11th site in 2012.

It's a bit of a misdirection: his prophesy said that the Memorial would be underwater due to rising water from melting ice caps, not from a massive hurricane.  Details, details.

While we get slicker graphics that detail both negative and positive information on the global warming front (no pun intended), most of the film involves Gore's own actions.  The presentations all revolve around his various training sessions where he imparts his information and methods so that they could spread the Gospel of Climate Change.

We then shift to the Paris Climate Accord negotiations, where Gore is a major player.  He's already talked to Indian officials prior to Paris, who scoffed at his suggestion that they go for clean energy given how the U.S. used coal for 150 years.  If it was good enough for the United States, the Indian officials essentially say, it's good enough for us now.

In Paris, Gore plans a 24-hour global special, but those pesky terrorists started attacking all over the city and he is forced to suspend this spectacular.  Once Paris rebounds however, Gore is in the thick of it, meeting Senators, working the phones with environmentally conscious companies, and pulling off a last-minute solution to get India on board.

India, the major stumbling block to the Accord, has finally come around, and the Accord is agreed to.  Pity Donald Trump came along to withdraw from it.  Gore ends An Inconvenient Sequel by continuing his claim that this is a moral issue, and that just like the Civil Rights Movement and abolitionist movements, his will prevail.

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What could have been a strong follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth is sidelined by Gore's own grandiose view of himself.  We see Gore more as a man of action than a man of intellect in this film.  There he is, jumping on glaciers and flying about the globe.  There he is, literally wading into the floodwaters of Miami.  There he is, consoling Filipino typhoon survivors.  There he is, conducting seminars to send his messengers off, though unlike Christ there is no mention if he sent them off in pairs of two.  There he is, all but saving the Paris conference through his personal work with private companies to provide India that clean energy they didn't want, at a discount to boot.

All this has the effect of making An Inconvenient Sequel less about whether climate change, or global warming as it was known back then, has gotten worse or better and more about Al Gore's almost messianic touch saves the planet.

Even Captain Planet had his Planeteers.

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Perhaps the worst moment in An Inconvenient Sequel is when he reflects on the 2000 election, again.  At a certain point, it goes beyond whining into perpetual self-pity over something that happened sixteen years ago.  You think, 'is this guy going to keep going on about 2000?'

If I wanted to hear a Democrat go on about how unfair it was that they lost the Presidential election to an imbecile who 'stole' it from them, I'd listen to the audiobook of Hillary Clinton's What Happened.

Odd how history seems to repeat itself.

The film works best when it takes its focus off Gore and how He is doing all the heavy lifting and instead focuses on uniting people.  There is a scene in Georgetown, Texas, which is according to its mayor, the reddest city in the reddest county in Texas.  Yet, despite the fact that Mayor Dale Ross is a conservative Republican, he has eagerly joined the green revolution, working to get Georgetown to be 100% clean-energy dependent.  Mayor Ross' views are that it is an economic as well as a moral solution, a need to leave the Earth in better shape than how you found it.

Those moments, along with some more information, would have elevated An Inconvenient Sequel to being close to the original.  Some moments are astonishing, like when we see Indian streets almost literally melt, forcing people to leave their footwear in the sticky ground.

Gore could have focused on action from both sides of the aisle, or on what local communities have done to clean up their act.  He could also stop using the term 'deniers' and/or 'denial agents', a loaded term that I am wary of.  I could go along with 'skeptic', but using 'deniers' or the more insidious-sounding 'denial agents' to my mind is meant to evoke someone like a Holocaust denier.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was a lost opportunity.  It could continue to send out the warnings so desperately needed on climate change, or it could focus on the good An Inconvenient Truth and the growing environmental movement have accomplished, with more to be done.  Instead, by taking so much time to showcase Al Gore in all his Gore Glory, An Inconvenient Sequel ends up shifting attention from the power of solar energy to a different kind of wind energy.


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