Climate change deniers be damned. Former Vice President Al Gore is back taking his message of the increasing dangers of global warming — and possible solutions to the problems — directly to moviegoers in a rich and human sequel to his 2006 double-Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. That movie led to a Nobel Peace Prize for his determined efforts to warn of Earth’s eventual demise if something is not done to stem the tide(s).
This time around, original director Davis Guggenheim takes on a co-executive producer credit as new directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk employ a new approach in showcasing Gore and his message — the slideshow in the first documentary replaced by more of a Direct Cinema approach. Gore, obviously trusting them, allowed unprecedented access. As I say in my video review above, the helmers find much new material to mine here by tracking Gore from Greenland and the melting ice caps to India, the Philippines, Paris and all over the U.S. as the former VP gives us visual evidence of our certain demise if nothing is done.
If all that sounds depressing — especially in the light of the current administration’s head-in-the-sand policies, as well as President Donald Trump’s action to exit America from the landmark Paris climate accord — it really is surprisingly not. In fact, while emphasizing the problems, the movie almost has a sunny kind of optimism that will allow you to leave the theater without the desire to slit your wrists at the hopelessness of it all. The new film also wins points for showing that partisanship doesn’t have to stand in the way of finding common ground in this urgent fight for the planet’s future. One scene towards the end of the film with Gore and the bubby conservative Republican mayor of a small Texas town in fact shows a real coming together of the minds in ways you wouldn’t think possible in today’s toxic political environment.
Ironically, Gore, who famously has Florida (and the Supreme Court) to blame for losing the 2000 Presidential election to George W. Bush, travels back to the Sunshine State to point out that Miami Beach, among other places, is increasingly showing signs of the effects of climate change as he goes deep into flooded streets by ocean water in the heart of the city.
Perhaps the film’s most effective sequences take place over two events in Paris. The first was a 24-hour global broadcast Gore hosted that was interrupted and postponed about four hours in when the horrendous terrorist attack on a concert hall was taking place just blocks away from his Eiffel Tower location. The other, of course, was two weeks later at the Paris accord meetings, where leaders gathered to ratify the historic agreement. There’s a terrific sequence showing Gore making the difference with a reluctant leader of India and brokering a deal that led to India’s “yes” on the agreement. It is the real Art Of The Deal in action.
After the film’s Sundance premiere, the filmmakers felt compelled to change the ending to reflect recent events. It makes the movie even more powerful, more urgent, more important, a perfect bookend a decade later and a sobering reminder that this is a movie that doesn’t really have a happy ending quite yet — just a tireless warrior leading the way to one. Let’s hope Gore doesn’t have to do another sequel. In a summer that features several superheroes on the screen, you can count the former Vice President as a member of that company.
Participant Media is back as the key production entity of the Paramount release, which opens the film limited today before going to several hundred screens August 4. Producers are Richard Berge, Diane Weyermann and Jeff Skoll.
Do you plan to see it? Let us know what you think.