Global climate change isn’t going to fix itself, so Al Gore is back in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” to remind us of the continuing battles — and to also take comfort in some of the small victories.
The new movie picks up where 2006’s “An Inconvenient Truth” leaves off, when Gore was presenting his “slideshow” (actually an Apple Keynote presentation) of the alarming facts and figures of climate change. Eleven years later, he has taken that message worldwide, training young “climate leaders” to do the same.
The truth hasn’t gotten any better. Gore regularly updates his presentation with fresh news footage of flooding, rainstorms and rising ocean levels that bear out what he has said before. “Watching the evening news is like taking a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” he quips, allowing some cynicism to peek out from his otherwise hopeful message.
Gore doesn’t let go of the scars of his past. In his presentation, he notes that one of the biggest criticisms of “An Inconvenient Truth” was his supposition that rising sea levels would one day flood the Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan. Climate deniers scoffed and called him an alarmist. His updated presentation includes footage from superstorm Sandy in 2012 — when the construction site of the 9/11 memorial was flooding.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and the movie isn’t all Al. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (who made the cyberbullying documentary “Audrie & Daisy”) follow Gore to places where change is happening, like tiny Georgetown, Texas, which its Republican mayor calls “the reddest city in the reddest county in Texas,” but which is nearing the goal of 100 percent renewable energy.
The movie also shows Gore as a behind-the-scenes power broker. The big moment comes at the Paris climate talks in 2015, where he negotiates with a solar-energy firm and major banks to give free technology to India — to get the recalcitrant country to sign on to the worldwide climate deal.
In the Paris scenes, there’s another voice heard on the sidelines: Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate carping to Fox News about the Paris talks being “a waste of time.”
In the movie’s epilogue (added since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on the night before Trump’s inauguration), a title card notes that Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris deal in June. The next title card notes that many state and local governments affirmed their commitment to reducing carbon emissions, as most nations agreed to in Paris.
“An Inconvenient Sequel,” by expanding on the 2006 film to show Gore’s globe-spanning efforts, shows the former vice president as idealist and realist. He talks about humanity’s moral responsibility to stop climate change, but he also will talk to anybody — even Trump — to make his case and get something accomplished. “An Inconvenient Sequel” shows Gore’s optimism to be, as he likes to say, a renewable resource in itself.
* * * 1/2
’An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’
Al Gore is back, still sounding the warnings about global climate change, in a documentary that offers hope and a call to action.
Where• Area theaters
When• Opens Friday, Aug. 4
Rating• PG for thematic elements and some troubling images.
Running time• 98 minutes.