Like we said in our review, please go see “An Inconvenient Sequel.” It’s important. If it fails at the box office, that would give skeptics (i.e., dangerous idiots) fuel to claim that because the movie tanked, that somehow means the planet isn’t on tap to purge humans from its surface in a perfect storm of extreme weather, droughts and heat.
That being said, saying the “Inconvenient Truth” sequel is important doesn’t mean it’s much of a movie, or even much of a climate change movie. It pales in comparison to the original, which birthed a cottage industry of docs about global warming. Some of them have actually been better than the ones starring one of our vice presidents. If you need something to frighten you into caring about humanity’s continued existence, chase “Sequel” — which again, you should see — with any of these:
‘Chasing Ice’ and ‘Chasing Coral’
The slow, steady, hopefully not inevitable erosion of the planet may be terrifying, but it’s not particularly cinematic. Any filmmaker hoping to make a movie about climate change has to ask themselves: How do I show this? For Davis Guggenheim, who helmed “An Inconvenient Truth,” the answer was simple: Just have Al Gore stand on a stage in front of a PowerPoint presentation. Over the decade-plus, cameras have greatly improved. They’ve grown smaller; they can record far more footage; they’re sturdier, better able to withstand the elements. In other words, showing climate change in action can now be exciting/horrifying to watch.
Director Jeff Orlowski knows it. He’s now made two films showing global warming as it happens, both with the word “Chasing” in the title. In 2012’s “Chasing Ice,” he shows scientists and techies setting up time-lapse cameras in the frozen Arctic, showing the melting of glaciers in action. If that’s not enough to scare the bejesus out of you, he returned to the subject with this year’s “Chasing Coral.” There, another crew of egg- and gearheads placed cameras under the sea, inside the Great Barrier Reef. They were there to bear witness to “coral bleaching,” in which climate change robs corals of their color and their life. It’s hard to be an armchair climate change denier when the evidence is caught on tape. Both now stream on Netflix
‘Time to Choose’
“Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral” use images to show the proof of climate change; “Time to Choose” goes one step further. It’s the most beautifully photographed film on the subject — a hypnotic, film-length montage reminiscent of Godfrey Reggio movies like “Koyaanisqatsi.” That said, it’s still heavy on intel. It’s from filmmaker Charles Ferguson, whose docs (“No End in Sight,” “Inside Job”) are exhaustively researched, very much documentaries as journalism. Here, he thinks as much about image as content. That’s not all: “Time to Choose” is one of the few optimistic films in the genre. It begins with the usual doomsday prophecies before heading into a topic-by-topic breakdown of what we can do to avert the apocalypse. Available on Amazon Video (for a fee)
‘Merchants of Doubt’
Technically this isn’t a doc about global warming. It’s about hucksters, con artists, bullies. They just happen to be the grifters swindling the public into believing climate change isn’t legit. Director Robert Kenner (“Food Inc.”) delves into the history of lying on a global scale, comparing the climate change denial wave to the monsters who once claimed cigarettes weren’t harmful to their health. Kenner winds up getting at something deeper about deception: People like Fred Singer, noted physicist-turned-denier, thrill at being the contrarian, at believing that they’re the smartest person in the room. They do that by taking a position that everyone knows for a fact is wrong. Available on Amazon Video (for a fee)
‘Before the Flood’
We get it: Listening to brainiacs can make your eyes roll over. Maybe you want your blood-freezing data delivered by a hot celebrity. Failing that, maybe you want said hot celebrity to stand next to brainiacs, nodding as they vomit up factoids. Witness Leonardo DiCaprio, in his second climate change doc (after this one), do just that in this Hail May pass of a doc, which tries to get people who loved “The Revenant” to care about the destruction that’s only started to hit the planet in earnest. It’s not much of a climate change doc, but it’s still superior to “An Inconvenient Sequel.” Which you should still see. Because this shit is important. Available on Amazon Video (for a fee)