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AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Al Gore
Director:  Davis Guggenheim
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  96 Minutes
Release Date:  November 21, 2006

Film (zero degrees Celsius)

“I am Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States,” the former veep begins.  Then adds, “I don’t think that’s funny.”  So no one can accuse me of not agreeing with Al Gore on anything.

Poor Al.  He tries hard, but the damned earth he’s trying to save never cooperates.  Remember when The Day After Tomorrow was released and he used the occasion to launch a big lecture on global warming, and it turned out to be the coldest day of the year?  Now he’s used the horrible memory of Katrina to launch his ideas in a movie in 2006, warning of increasingly intense hurricane seasons.  And it’s a year where NOAA more or less called an end to hurricane season a couple of months early.

An Inconvenient Truth actually covers the lecture he always gives, complete with PowerPoint presentations.  It’s about as exciting as it sounds.  If Barack Obama is the rock star of the Democratic Party, Al Gore is its sixth grade science teacher.

The presentation as he gives it isn’t bad, but being activist in nature, he presents only what helps his argument while dismissing what is detrimental to it.  If you walk away from this picture thinking you’re an expert on global climate change, you may as well only have read what the former white owners had to say about slavery.

He makes an impressive case using scientific studies that have been questioned at best and argued vehemently against at worst.  Using select, comparatively microscopic samples, he diagnoses worldwide trends in atmospheric conditions when, in a spread out city like my hometown of Jacksonville, conditions are frequently different from one square mile to the next.

What does he argue?  That the earth is getting hotter and it’s mostly America’s fault.  And that the only way to change it (and yes, he does pontificate this at the end) is essentially to elect Democrats.  I have a feeling he has one Democrat in particular in mind for the top job in the country…care to guess who?

You won’t have to guess if you see this movie.  It’s not just a look at his talk on global warming, but a campaign infomercial.  Yes, climate change is a serious issue, but not so much that we can’t break away from it to follow a solemn and heroic Al as he crosses the globe (in cars, jets and private planes…wonder what his carbon footprint is?), and hear him talk about his childhood, personal tragedies, political accomplishments, soak up the accolades of rabid fans, and dwell for several minutes on how he lost the election thanks to my home state.

Ah…but back to the issue at hand.  What was it again?  Oh, yes…global warming.  100 % of scientists are in complete agreement on mankind causing it, he avers.  That one assessment should be enough to throw the whole movie into an imploding vortex.  100 % of scientists are never in complete agreement on ANYTHING.  Heck, you can only get four out five dentists to recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.  And if you don’t blink or reach for your popcorn, you’ll hear that Al Gore bases that assessment on the wholly, indisputable, unanimous chorus of…ten percent of scientists.  Ten percent equals a hundred percent?  Sounds like more 'fuzzy math' to me...

The fact is, there many scientists just as vocal as the former vice president, whose research goes back further and takes more into account and covers a wider range of terrain than what he shows us.  Ones that will tell you that the earth goes through periods of warming and cooling and has done so ever since before mankind was a glint in God’s eye.  Even Gore mentions SEVEN known ice ages.  Did mankind cause ANY of them?  Forget that…did we even cause the last one?

Some inconvenient truths that Al doesn’t share with his loyal audience:  that the temperature of the sun is going through a period of increase.  Might that have an effect on the earth’s temperature?  Astronomers are measuring global warming on Mars occurring at the same rate as here on our good ol’ terra firma.  Somehow I doubt the Mars Rover is sputtering out enough emissions to make THAT happen.

Or that yes, there are areas of the arctic shelf that are receding, but there are other areas that are increasing in size and density.  He even pats mankind on the back for fixing the hole in the ozone layer, when we’ve learned after decades of study that the hole is a naturally occurring phenomenon that opens and closes over periods of years.  Wow.

Before the last period of global warming, most of North America was as frozen and barren as Greenland.  Then somehow, without our help, the temperatures went up, the ice melted, and a whole lot of people on this continent showed up and started producing the planes Gore flies, the cars he drives, and all the other conventions of modern life that he tells us are now causing what has occurred naturally in geological history numerous times.

Concern for the environment is noble and important.  It’s a trait I share.  But manipulation and selective breeding of science to create a worldwide panic to exact change, not of the earth’s climate, but of the political landscape?  Watching this movie made me cry out at my television screen “HE PLAYED ON OUR FEARS!!”  Um, who was it that originally said that?  Gosh, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

I have nothing against cleaner air, more efficient cars, or alternate fuels.  In fact, put me down as an ‘aye’ vote on all the above.  But the notion that we’re now causing what’s naturally occurred many times before the dawn of man?  Many years over the course of my life have I heard the alarm bells being rung.  We were ten years away from dead oceans.  Ten years away from no more trees.  Ten years away from the earth not being able to bring forth crops.  Ten years away from the end of drinkable water as we know it.  Maybe the world actually ended a long time ago and someone forgot to tell Al Gore.

Climate change, like all scientific phenomena in our world, deserves to be studied, analyzed, and considered carefully.  It shouldn’t be politicized.  (In case you were curious, the first direct shot at George W. Bush occurs between the 7 and 8 minute mark, but I lost count halfway through.)  And not being politicized means showing all the evidence, not just what helps you win debate points when…well heck, when you’re not even engaged in a debate.  We need dialogue…not monologue.

Sorry, Al, it’s not the heat...it’s the stupidity.

Video ***1/2

This disc boasts a good looking anamorphic transfer…animation translates well to DVD, and that’s what we’re looking at a great deal of the time.  Colors are rich, bright and natural looking and details are sharp and crisp throughout. 

Audio **

The 5.1 soundtrack isn’t very demanding, and about par for the course for what is essentially a talking head movie.  No demands on the rear stage or the subwoofer, but they aren’t really required for this presentation.

Features ***

There are a number of extras, if you can make it through them.  More pontificating can be found on the two commentary tracks; one from director Davis Guggenheim and one from the producers, including Laurie David, who flies enough on private jets over the course of a year to power many Midwestern cities.  There’s more Al Gore in an update segment, and a making-of documentary, plus a music video from Melissa Etheridge.

Summary:

Here’s An Inconvenient Truth for you:  this exceedingly dull and one-sided film starring an exceedingly dull and one-sided man will probably win the Best Documentary Oscar.  100% of man-made global warming skeptics are in agreement on that.

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