When Al Gore and David Guggenheim teamed up in 2006 for An Inconvenient Truth, the issue of Global Warming went from a back burner issue to a hot button topic in a matter of months, impacting change and forcing public discussion on a worldwide scale. Little more than ten years later, Al Gore has returned once again with a documentary sequel which will conveniently be released against the backdrop of the new, controversial changing of the guards in Washington.
Unlike the film’s Oscar winning predecessor, An Inconvenient Sequel plays less like an early warning of the apocalypse, choosing instead to infuse its fair share of optimistic outlooks on the future. The problem is that any important ideas or commentary on this global issue were never really allowed to flourish. Instead, the important issues of Global Warming and climate change were trapped in a shadow cast by Al Gore himself. The film plays less like a social commentary, and more like a social media booster for Mr. Gore and gives the impression that the film may have better relayed its message without the man who helped prop the issue up into the limelight in the first place. The irony is apparent, is it not?
One of the toughest things about a film like this, is figuring out who its audience actually is. Most people have already decided where they stand on the issue of Global Warming. Change needs to come from both ends of the spectrum, whether that’s left and right, or east and west. The problem with this film however, is that it often pats one side on the back while at the same time vilifying the other. India, one of the film’s few antagonists, is portrayed like a soulless coal-burning entity whose views are void and who only can progress into the 21st century with a helping hand from its western counterpart (think old lady crossing the street).
To the film’s credit, one of it’s strongest scenes was one explaining the going-ons of Georgetown, which is the first 100% renewable energy city in Texas, and soon to be the largest in the United States. For those unfamiliar with American politics, we’re talking the reddest of the red. Unfortunately, even these guys were still portrayed as “simple folk” that may not know much about science, but at least know enough to start using renewable energy. It’s almost as if the film is saying “Look! If these podunks can do it, why can’t you?”. Potential greatness again undermined by the need for inserting political commentary.
In the end, An Inconvenient Sequel may only play well to those who are either fans of the original film, or those that are just now coming into the conversation about Global Warming. There aren’t any new ideas presented here, and the ideas that are there, are constantly being convoluted and diluted. It’s obvious that intentions were good, and the issue is indeed important, but the film lacks execution and may not have quite the changing impact as the first one did. But as old rhetoric goes, if it reaches one person, perhaps it was all worth it in the end.