The question is: Should you see An Inconvenient Truth because it's the right thing to do or because it's a film that's actually worth watching?
The answer is: "Both."
A lot of people will resist seeing this film for a variety of reasons. Maybe you fear an hour and a half of Al Gore is too much or the subject matter is too depressing or the subject matter is too boring or Al Gore is too boring or you'll just feel guilty afterwards or this is just a thinly disguised attempt to boost Gore's chances to run for president again or it's just a one-sided, political screed or global warming is just a hoax perpetrated by hysterics.
The answer is: "None of the above apply."
The film is a testament to the triumph of presentation over material. It is, in effect, a composite of the "slide show" Gore has been delivering around the world, like some obsessive ancient mariner, to anyone who will listen, about the perils of continuing to do nothing about global warming.
Sophisticated graphics and a variety of media make what is essentially a lecture, a far less static experience for the film audience. Yes, you have to pay attention. Yes, there are plenty of charts and numbers. But the film effectively conveys a sense of urgency about the very future of the planet, which makes the viewing experience compelling.
The second half of the film is more engrossing than the first half, but it remains consistently interesting throughout.
As for the "Al Gore factor," he benefits from most people's low expectations. He's neither boring nor overly stiff, and occasionally, he even makes people laugh. The presentation of material is broken up by personal reflections on his childhood, the near-loss of his then-6-year-old son after a car accident, the death of his sister to lung cancer, and, of course, his "loss" in the 2000 election (the one with the big asterisk beside it). All, he says, contributed to his formation as an environmentalist. The asides portray him not as a hero, but as a committed activist, and those who fear he is simply doing this to lay the groundwork for another run at the presidency should know better. No committed crusader could ever get elected, and no one who ever ran for president and "lost" ever gets another chance (Adlai Stevenson being the exception that confirmed that rule).
The upshot is, people should not use Al Gore as an excuse for avoiding this film.
It never quite lives up to its movie poster billing as "The most terrifying film you'll ever see," but it certainly gets your attention. Just as we became desensitized to impending nuclear annihilation, we have become numb to the notion that we might render our planet uninhabitable. It may well take a real crisis like the scenerios Gore describes in this film to break through our denial. Those scenerios, especially the consequences of rising ocean levels along highly populated coastlines, are harrowing to say the least.
But he is no mere messenger of apocalypse. Noting that too many people go directly from "denial to despair," Gore says there is something in between?#34;actually doing something. In fact, he lays out a specific series of steps that, without wrenching changes, would allow us to cut back our global-warming-causing carbon dioxide emissions to pre-1970 levels. We already have the technology in place to do it. All it would take, he says, is political will.
"Fortunately," he tells one receptive audience, "political will is a renewable resource."
Should you see this film? If you don't want to believe me, maybe Roger Ebert would carry more weight. In 39 years of reviewing, he wrote recently, he has never said, "You owe it to yourself to see this movie." But he wrote just that in his review of An Inconvenient Truth. "And if you don't," he continued, "you owe it to your grandchildren to explain why."
The end credits cleverly combine with specific ideas on what viewers can do to spread the word about this "inconvenient truth." One of the suggestions is telling people to see this film.
Do I think you should you see this film?
Only if you want the planet saved.