UK Release Date: 18th August 2017
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
Starring: Al Gore
Synopsis: A decade on from his original wake-up call of a climate change documentary, Al Gore looks at the current state of the environmental movement and takes part in the crucial global crunch talks that would ultimately lead to the historic Paris Agreement.
In 2006, Al Gore‘s bracing documentary An Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars and opened many eyes to the dangers posed by man-made climate change. More than a decade later, a greyer Gore is back to discuss the state of play and what has changed, both for better and for worse, since his last film was released. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is absolutely a polemic, with Gore’s viewpoint front and centre, but it’s also an intriguing insider’s view of the diplomatic wranglings that led to the signing of the landmark 2016 Paris Agreement – an enormous step forward in the fight against climate change.
Your opinion on An Inconvenient Sequel will likely hinge on how you feel about Al Gore himself. While the first movie was predominantly about the issue of climate change, this one is absolutely about Gore himself and the enormous role he has played and continues to play in the environmental movement. We see Gore delivering climate seminars all over the world, while also visiting flashpoints that show the effects of climate change and lobbying politicians to make the right decisions when it comes to protecting the planet. In one of the film’s most bizarre scenes, he seems to suggest that he was single-handedly responsible for bringing India around to signing the Paris Agreement.
That said, though, the film remains a potent polemic. Gore is a very compelling speaker and his arguments have the weight of science behind them. His righteous anger at the resistance towards his arguments can be keenly felt and it’s clear that fighting this fight has become all-consuming for him. The slideshow sequences are among the best moments of An Inconvenient Sequel and they clearly recall the most memorable moments of the original film, which was far superior as a searing, crucial piece of advocacy.
There is one thing, though, that An Inconvenient Sequel has over its predecessor – hope. The first film was a desperate plea for the world to wake up, whereas this sequel talks with reverence and humanity about what has already been achieved in the move towards renewable energy. One particularly intriguing sequence sees Gore visit a “conservative Republican” mayor in Texas, who has shepherded his town to a 100% renewable future, in what is seemingly a contrast to his political views. The final scenes, in which the Paris Agreement comes into being, are genuinely emotional and heart-warming, showcasing global cooperation at its best.
Donald Trump, however, lurks over the film like the hideous, orange spectre that he is. Footage of the President appears sporadically throughout the film and there is mention of his attempts to pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement, but his interventions evidently came too late to appear prominently in the movie. It leaves the entire thing feeling a little out of date already, missing the substantial elephant in the Oval Office, who has already made an incredibly significant difference to the environmental movement.
Despite that, An Inconvenient Sequel does still have the power to create moving moments for its audience. It’s not going to win over new people to the climate cause, but it is a worthy addition to the canon for those who choose science over silliness. This isn’t an earth-shattering documentary and it doesn’t have much in the way of revelation to it, but it is a glimpse behind the curtain of the current environmental movement and another chance to witness Al Gore’s compelling passion for his cause.
Pop or Poop?
Your enjoyment of this film will come down to where you stand on its central issue of fighting climate change. Unlike the first movie, An Inconvenient Sequel is more a reminder of the importance of climate change, rather than an attempt to win over those sceptical as to its existence.
This is a piece of advocacy from an accomplished polemicist and it’s one that, for the most part, holds water and boasts moments of extraordinary power.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.