Ten years after the Oscar winning "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore seesaws between hope and despair. With the global climate conference in Paris looming, the former Vice President notes remarkable shifts to renewable energy. But he still suffers one setback after another as he travels the globe checking on climate disasters and training 10,000 Climate Leaders. With Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, Gore responds with "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."
Taking over from Davis Gugenheim, "Audrie & Daisy's" Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk follow the seemingly tireless Gore around the Globe and that is their film's biggest takeaway. If the first film was a call to action, the sequel is a testament to the self-described 'recovering politician's' fortitude. As opening credits roll, we here the voices of nay-saying pundits, then we see Gore comparing "Truth's" most criticized clip in 2006, an animation of water pouring into Manhattan's World Trade Center, with what actually happened during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Those critics must eat their words today.
Gore visits Miami where streets flood, fish swimming down them. Miami's mayor is frantically trying to raise roadways while the state's governor refuses to talk about the issue. Later in the film, Gore visits the reddest county in Texas where Georgetown's Republican Mayor Dale Ross is proud that his will be the first town in the U.S. to use 100% renewable energy, a bipartisan victory.
Gore talks about why he uses NASA's famous 'Blue Marble' photograph to lead off all his lectures before discussing the cancellation of the NASA DSCOVR project under President Bush. This satellite would have enabled 7x24 monitoring of the Earth, providing scientists with a trove of data (it finally launched during the Obama administration).
If the first film frequently turned to Gore's graphs and charts, we see them sparingly here (an early one on extreme temperature shifts is alarming), the filmmakers instead following the man as he reminisces at home in Tennessee, attends meetings, runs training sessions and climbs into the Swiss Camp research station in Greenland. He changes out of wading boots to address a waiting crowd and hops onto the Paris Metro when traffic stalls his momentum. Paris is the setting of the film's final third, Gore partaking in a global broadcast leading into the climate conference that had to stop on the evening of the terrorist attacks.
It is during the talks that we are most reminded of what we lost with a Supreme Court decision in 2000. India, the world's third largest carbon emitter, was arguing that economically they could not transition to new technology and, in fact, planned on opening 400 new coal based utility plants (Gore is seen visiting the country earlier in the film, recognizing their arguments, while we see a clip of a woman's shoes melting into the pavement and neighboring Pakistan digs mass graves anticipating the next heat wave). Gore is called into action and brokers a deal with Solar City's CEO that benefits both them and India. India comes on board. Meanwhile presidential candidate Trump prattles on about how Obama is wasting his time on climate change. (Oddly, Obama is only seen in long focus walking through the Paris conference whereas the filmmakers catch Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warmly greeting their subject.)
"An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" anoints Al Gore as climate change's most influential crusader. It doesn't shy away from painful truths, but its message is hopeful perseverance.
Robin also gives "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" a B-.
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