Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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An Inconvenient Truth

Film #270


A documentary on Al Gore’s campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide.

Year 1, Day 269

BEFORE: Moving into the more opinionated documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth attempts to get me concerned about the issue of global warming. It’s pretty clear that global warming is a thing now, and not something we can just shrug off, but even so I don’t really care because as you should all know, the planet is fine. But on a more serious note, An Inconvenient Truth is helmed by Davis Guggenheim who did the very good Waiting for “Superman” so it should be informative and opinionated without being too overbearing and forceful. But we’ll see.

AFTER: All joking aside, I’d like to be very clear on one point. Global warming is a very serious issue and very real. I was aware of that before and am even more aware of it after watching An Inconvenient Truth. However, that does not mean I’m in full support of the issue. I am drawn to the opposition and kept thinking of ways Gore’s argument was flawed while watching the documentary. While this review will be about how the effective the documentary is, no doubt a conversation about the issues mentioned will be brought up as well.

My biggest issue with An Inconvenient Truth is, surprisingly, not with the content, but with the structure of the documentary. There are two major components to the film: (1) footage of Al Gore giving his presentation on global warming, and (2) a variety of personal footage focusing on Gore’s life and preparation for the speech. I have problems with both of these components. First, while well-filmed, having the basis of the documentary be footage from Gore’s presentation doesn’t strike me as appropriate for a feature-length documentary. It’s as if it is a super-sized TED talk; it’s intriguing and informative, just in the wrong format. There should be something more than a recording of a speech in a documentary. Oh wait, there is more - footage of Gore’s life. But these brief interludes don’t add anything to the argument about global warming; they were about promoting Gore. I’m not as cynical as others, but if I said the idea of this documentary being used a primer for another Presidential run didn’t cross my mind, I wouldn’t be telling the truth.

All this being said, I still enjoyed the documentary. Most TED talks I find intriguing and very informative. So was An Inconvenient Truth. I may not think it’s appropriate for the documentary form, but the content remains relevant. The most important thing it does is raise awareness. Above you’ll see the plot description says it makes the issue “a recognized problem worldwide” and if it does one thing, this is what it does. Skeptic or not, you soon realize that global warming is very real. Gore presents his facts and information in a way that is clear and easy to understand. I can voice many of my opinions which do fall on the more doubtful side, the reason being it seems clear the information is biased. Facts are facts and numbers are numbers; I’m not disputing the validity and truth of Gore’s statements. What I am questioning is how much he stretches the truth to enhance his argument and make global warming seem more serious than it actually is. I don’t know; I’m not an expert. Something Gore also does well is try to combat these suspicions as much as possible. Many times I had a problem or an issue with the data he presented, one of the first being this graph. But almost as if reading my mind, right after the question popped up in my mind, he addresses the concern. It’s very well done in terms of a presentation which further helps sell his argument.

An Inconvenient Truth may be an informative, intriguing, and even entertaining documentary, conveying the argument that the issue of global warming is real and very serious and something needs to be done. However, despite how great the content of the film may be and how well Gore speaks, it strikes me as the wrong format. It’s a TED talk, just expanded with a pointless secondary storyline about Gore thrown on. Great to watch and effective at raising awareness, but not the best documentary as far as documentaries go.

RATING: 4 out of 5