The arresting follow up to Al Gore’s 2006 climate change documentary is undeniably a one man show, but it’s the wake up call we need more than ever in the era of the environmentally intransigent President Trump. 

When An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006, climate change was thrust into the mainstream in an unprecedented manner. Undeniably groundbreaking, a global audience was alerted to the impact humankind’s actions have had on the planet and forced to reconsider their response to it. A decade later, Truth to Power continues to follow the ever stentorian Al Gore delivering his slideshows in the Trump age.

With President Donald Trump pulling the USA out of the Paris Accord earlier this year, the film has never been so urgent. Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the sequel comes from Participant Media, the same company behind documentaries ‘Food, Inc.’ and ‘He named me Malala’. It is undeniably ‘the Al Gore show’, following the one-time ‘next President of the USA’ as he keeps himself busy touring the world giving his trademark rousing speeches to his Climate Reality Leadership trainees with all the force of an impassioned grizzly bear zipped up inside a Tennessee dad bod.

Most stirring is ‘Mr Vice President’s’ tête-à-tête with India’s leaders, who remind us that the USA had centuries of making the most of their fossil fuel resources before they finally decided to kick them into the long grass. Why now should the world’s developing nations, with enormous populations who need access to energy, not do the same? The eventual acceptance of India’s Premier Narinda Modi at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 provides one of the most uplifting points in the film.

Gore’s raison d’être is of course that the world’s climate is changing at an unprecedented rate. In a series of arresting images including a woman being pulled from a sinking car in the catastrophic floods in the Philippines, images that made little impact in the western media, we are reminded that it’s the poorest who are the worst affected by the more extreme weather caused by climate change.

That said, one of the more impactful scenes comes in a discussion of the Zika virus, which was brought home to the United States when women were advised not to get pregnant in some of the Florida for fear of the disease which had been made a more potent threat due to the warmer conditions which allowed it to thrive.

As a documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel will struggle to make the same impact that its forerunner did since climate change is now so entrenched in the public psyche, and doesn’t garner the same shock impact. It also falls into the trap of portraying its hero as just that, a sometimes holier than thou do-gooder on a personal challenge to ‘save the world’.

The other crucial oversight in the narrative is of course that at the time of filming, Donald Trump’s presidency was a worst case scenario, and not yet an unhappy reality. His comments broadcast over television and radio, as well as his decision to pull out of the Paris Accord feel somewhat rushed in at the last minute in order to give the documentary immediate context. Perhaps, though, that simply shows the urgency of the problem, how quickly things can change and how every vote counts in a democracy like our own.

One particularly sickly sweet scene sees Dale Ross, the Republican Mayor of Georgetown Texas, shaking hands with Gore and committing to a 100% green city. The common ground found between the as-American-as-apple-pie small town mayor and the former VP provides one of the more comic moment, along with from the brief appearance of Mr Smooth, Justin Trudeau, whilst at the same time offering hope for an America under the thumb of one so alarmingly blind to the crisis we face.

If you ignore references to God and the rather extended and somewhat unnecessary section connecting the Paris attacks with the climate summit, there’s no denying that Gore is an inspiring figure in the battle against climate change, whether or not you accuse him of falsifying the evidence he cites.

This becomes clearer as the film progresses, increasing in tension and engendering a formidable sense of optimism, particularly in the moment where Chile’s phenomenal dedication to solar power is revealed as an exemplary beacon. Despite that so much of the film is based on the idea of the negative impact humanity has had on ‘the blue marble’, it’s Gore’s indefatigable pursuit of positive change that strikes the hardest.

With a goosebumps-inducing score from Jeff Beal, the film ramps up its positivity as it moves full-force into a political plea for change in the final sequence. Here, Gore in Martin Luther King mode reminds us that every social movement has faced backlash, from the women’s suffrage movement to civil rights. His tireless campaign to encourage everyone from the world’s most powerful to the masses is in equal measure a rational call to arms, a terrifying warning and a powerful plea to our sense of responsibility for the little blue dot we call home.

Don’t believe those who have accused Gore’s second film of being boring. It can only be argued that if you find the material in this impressive and urgent film boring, you simply haven’t been listening.

An Inconvenient Sequel is released on 18th August. 

★★★★★