I’ve just seen Al Gore, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk‘s An Inconvenient Sequel, a sequel to the nearly eleven-year-old, Oscar-winning doc that he and director Davis Guggenheim created. And I’m afraid that the general opinion is “nice film but meh…we know the climate crisis is mostly worsening, the 2015 Paris climate accords aside, so what else is new?”
That’s what a critic friend was saying at least (“I’ve seen a lot of climate-change docs, and good as this was it’s basically more of the same”), and even though I liked Sequel I couldn’t argue all that strenuously. It’s a nicely done, intelligently assembled film but it is more or less a rehash of the original brief, which is that we’re all doomed unless climate criminals (primarily the leaders of India, China and other developing countries) wake up, man up and begin the process of switching to renewable energy sources.
The difference between An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel is that the latter (a) takes a fresh look at what’s going on now (i.e., things are worse), (b) provides hope by focusing on the Paris Agreement, which Gore was very much a part of, and (c) acknowledges despair that a climate-change-denying beast is about to move into the White House.
Form-wise Sequel is well finessed. It’s a good thing that it was made, and that Paramount Pictures is releasing it sometime this summer, and that who-knows-how-many-thousands of more minds will probably be changed, etc.
Gore’s strongest observation is that despite Donald Trump‘s election and the battle to try and stop the planet’s gradual ecological destruction looking especially grim right now, we’re nonetheless on the brink of a tipping point in which the climate-change movement is about to finally take hold, and that the world will finally realize en masse that we’re really in a crisis and that rightwing climate denial b.s. simply can’t be tolerated, much less voted for, any longer.
When I sat down to write this in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel, a fat guy sitting next to me was on the phone with someone, and he was calling An Inconvenient Sequel “awful.” I didn’t say anything but I telepathically told him, “You fucking asshole, why would you want to shit on this movie?…it’s not awful…it’s just not the mindblower and earth-shaker that An Inconvenient Truth was for many people…this is not about your feeling entertained or amused…it’s about spreading the word and awakening minds.”