Critics Weigh in on Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Sequel'

Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power' will arrive in theaters on July 28, 2017. (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images)

Nearly a decade ago, with millions watching around the globe, Al Gore walked on to the stage at the 79th Academy Awards and briefly addressed the star-studded audience.

"My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis," he said. "It's not a political issue; it's a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource. Let's renew it."

Gore's presence in the midst of Hollywood's most celebrated night, as well as the Oscar he took home for best Documentary Feature, was all thanks to "An Inconvenient Truth." The documentary on the climate crisis, an adaptation of a slideshow Gore regularly delivered, had been one of the surprise cultural and critical hits of 2006. It also had the galvanizing effect of sparking a global debate on everything from carbon emissions to hybrid vehicles and renewable energy.

Now, a little over 10 years since the original film first hit theaters on May 24, 2006, a silver-haired Gore is back with a follow-up called "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." The documentary, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in January, chronicles the progress made over the last decade to address the climate crisis, as well as Gore's personal efforts to educate and empower citizen activists around the world.

You can see a first clip from the film below.

So what do the critics think? The consensus seems to be that the film has punch, especially given the fact that the U.S., under President Donald Trump, has announced its intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Salon spoke to the directors of the sequel, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk.

"The Trump victory sharpens Al’s message because Trump stands firmly in the camp that denies the facts of climate science," the directors told Salon. "What surprised us is the backlash to Trump’s speech in which we announced his intentions to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. Many mayors, U.S. governors and business leaders have stepped up and announced plans to keep America’s commitment to the agreement, despite Trump’s failure to lead on the issue."

What remains to be seen, however, is what kind of impression the movie will make with audiences.

"One of the toughest things about a film like this, is figuring out who its audience actually is," writes Ty Cooper for HeyUGuys. "Most people have already decided where they stand on the issue of global warming. Change needs to come from both ends of the spectrum, whether that’s left and right, or east and west. The problem with this film however, is that it often pats one side on the back while at the same time vilifying the other."

Film critic Owen Gleiberman at Variety, meanwhile, was surprised at how well the message resonated.

"What’s extraordinary is that this one, after a decade of global-warming fatigue, feels as vital as it does," he writes. "When it plays in theaters this summer, 'An Inconvenient Sequel' is likely to be another event, a part of the conversation, a movie that glories, once again, in the incisive power of its inconvenience. Ten years later, Al Gore is still bringing the news."

Part of the reason the new film succeeds, according to Adam Chitwood, is that it improves upon the seminar feel of the original.

"Instead of simply relaying power point slides, Gore actually visits areas affected by climate change weather patterns, putting a face to catastrophic events in the Philippines, India, and yes, the state of Florida," he writes for Collider. "And it also focuses on the good that’s being done around the world, highlighting areas that have moved significantly towards a renewable energy model—including an extremely conservative Texas town."

As for the film's overall impact, critic Chris Bumbray says it may just provide some new energy to those in need of a boost after recent political events.

"If you happen to think this is all a hoax and you weren’t convinced by 'An Inconvenient Truth', there’s not much here to change your mind," he writes for JoBlo. "But, if the fight to save the planet from the horrible damage we’ve done to it is something you’re invested in, this is the pat on the back/word of encouragement maybe you need in light of current events. It preaches to the choir, but that choir, hopefully, is getting bigger and bigger."

"An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" is now in theaters.