In An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore watches glaciers melt in Greenland, straps on boots to wade through flooded Miami streets, then heads to climate policy negotiations to forestall coal-burning plants in India.
This sequel isn't a PowerPoint presentation, like the Oscar-winning original, but a would-be action movie, culled from two-years of footage gathered as the reformed politician spreads the global-warming gospel on a globe-trotting climate-change crusade. The movie was finished before President Trump's decision to reverse the U.S. commitment to the Paris climate accord and the filmmakers made a few minor additions to bring the movie up to date.
Climate debate aside, though, the movie's idea to present Al Gore as an action figure is a wobbly one. He is a sincere and avuncular fellow, his message is heartfelt, but he's the same phlegmatic guy we remember from his presidential campaign — the one Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond was able to capture with two wonky words: lock box.
The movie doesn't want to put Gore back on stage in a tweed jacket and a box of index cards, but that's where he's most like himself — professorial, earnest, excited about his syllabus and facing a room of eager pupils (the movie is heavy on supportive reaction shots). Gore obviously still loves his lectures on the economics of renewable energy — its cost relative to carbon-based fuels, the technological breakthroughs that continue to bring prices down.
Gore spouts green-energy information while visiting places where innovative things are happening, and where he meets — like a mellower Michael Moore — with the locals. Places like Georgetown, Texas, a red state city of 60,000 that has recently contracted to purchase 100 percent of its energy from renewables.
It's a cool story — a community in the heart of oil-and-gas Texas going green — but it gets only a cursory examination here. Georgetown's budget-conscious administrators made the move to trade volatile fossil-fuel prices for the steady and price-competitive wind and solar. It's a a deal made possible because Texas (under Gov. Rick Perry) deregulated its energy market, a fact not mentioned here.
Truth to Power doesn't want to drown viewers in data, but more fact-finding would have helped the movie's purported message of progress and hope. Burlington, Vt., which registers in the movie as a blip on a map of green cities, matched Georgetown's commitment to renewables in a completely different way — by creating its own dedicated, independent sources of wind, solar and hydroelectric.
Gore is his own form of renewable energy. He is tireless, never wavers in his devotion to his crusade — an apt term in "Truth to Power," which invokes Pope Francis and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The movie's money line has Gore (he repeats it in virtually every interview) invoking the Book of Revelation.
Are things that bad?
I don't know, but if the Four Horsemen appear, I do know that I'm going to Burlington, Vt.