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(Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim are back with An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power which opens in theaters Friday, July 28 via Paramount Pictures.)

It has been 11 years since the release of Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth, and in that time the state of the planet’s health has become increasingly dire, no matter what the climate-change deniers (including the current U.S. President) claim. Now, in 2017, just two months after Donald Trump announced that he would withdraw our nation from the 2015 Paris Accords, comes a follow-up to that first film, entitled, appropriately enough, An Inconvenient Sequel. Though now directed by the husband/wife duo of Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (Audrie & Daisy), rather than Guggenheim, the new documentary still stars former Vice President Al Gore who, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, in 2000, to award the election to George W. Bush, has devoted his life to raising awareness of the imminent perils of ignoring our rapidly heating world.

In case we have forgotten the context of the original movie, An Inconvenient Sequel opens with a title card to set the stage. We then cut to the melting ice shelf of Greenland, where Gore and climate scientists step gingerly over the alarmingly large rivulets of water that cut wide swaths through formerly solid blocks. From there, we travel the globe, jumping to Miami – where floods consistently swamp the downtown area – to Texas, to New York, to China, to India and then to Paris, where we witness the complex negotiations that resulted in the historic international agreement. To see the amount of back-and-forth, elbow-grease diplomacy in which Gore and his team engage to bring all parties to the table is heartening, reminding us that there are people willing to do this kind of hard work. And then Trump wins the 2016 election.

It comes as quite a blow, to Gore and to those citizens of the world who believe in the accepted science and know that we cannot delay the cure. Fortunately, the United States is the outlier: most other countries on earth are now on board with combating climate change. Unfortunately, the United States is a big polluter, though there is plenty of resistance to the Republican agenda, including from some Republicans. We meet one GOP Texas mayor who has committed his city to using 100% renewable electricity. In our age of hyper-partisan bickering, it’s lovely to see how well and he and Gore get along, united on this one issue. Still, there is much to do to change attitudes at home. As Gore says, we need to fix the crisis in our democracy first. To help us do that, the film ends on a stirring call to action, directing viewers to its website, where we can sign a pledge to #beinconvenient. If you believe in Gore’s mission and the truth he espouses, waste no time and take action now.

I admired An Inconvenient Truth, and find its sequel even more powerful (and necessary). Cohen and Shenk are slightly smoother filmmakers than Guggenheim, and Shenk – who shot most of the film – is also an excellent cinematographer. Depressing as the subject matter may be, particularly in these troubled times, it gives one hope to see the energy with which this story is told, and to see that, even now, Gore refuses to concede defeat (this is one battle that no court can make him stop fighting). Watch the movie, and together let us do our best to make sure that, 11 years from now, we can avoid the final leg of what could be, by then, a devastating trilogy, “An Inconvenient End.”

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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