'An Inconvenient Sequel' Review: Al Gore Is Pissed, And You Should Be Too [Sundance 2017]

If An Inconvenient Truth was an eye-opening disaster movie, then An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power is the heartbreaking post-apocalyptic follow-up.

An Inconvenient Sequel isn't the first sequel to play Sundance (Richard Linklater's Before series) and is certainly not the first Sundance film to be sequelized (remember, the first Clerks and Saw movies played the festival). But for some reason, An Inconvenient Sequel feels like a big franchise sequel in a way that the Sundance Film Festival has never seen before. At the center of this adventure is our former Vice President, Al Gore, struggling with the possible failure after thirty years of working to educate the world on global warming. Faced with a most frightening future, this is an underdog story with world stakes.

The film opens up with beautiful footage of our melting glaciers as we hear right-wing critics responding to the first movie. Some of this film feels like a response to these critics, confirming that many of the claims that were laughed off by Republicans actually came to fruition. It's heartbreaking and depressing to be on the right side of this debate. You can sense Al Gore's frustration, and he is certainly angrier this time around, but still as passionate as he ever has been.

An Inconvenient Sequel isn't as focused as it's predecessor, but it's more personal and thus more emotional. The film is at its most powerful not when Gore is presenting slides filled with frightening statistics but when the movie shows the human face of climate change and how it is currently affecting people all over the world. We see massive glaciers crumble like swiss cheese, causing water to overtake the streets of Miami (a city in a state run by a governor who doesn't believe in climate change).

Gore makes a case that we need to work together and that this isn't a partisan issue, but I feel this film preaches to the already converted rather than to the skeptics. At one point, Gore visits with a mayor in Georgetown, Texas who has gotten his city to 100% renewable power. The Republican mayor pushed his city towards net zero not just because of the obvious environmental advantages, but ultimately because it was cheaper for his constituents.

The climax of this film comes as the world descends on Paris, France just weeks after horrific terrorist attacks to try to work together on a solution for the future of our planet. The primary purpose of this gathering was to sign a treaty that would call for net zero climate pollution by the end of this century. The notable holdout is the president of India who feels his developing country is being forced to convert to more expensive energy technology, a move that could be devastating to the growth of his country in a world filled with wealthy superpowers. The film gives us an unexpected peek inside the world of political dealmaking.

For those of us still wallowing in defeat and scared shitless about the next four years, this film might come too soon for comfort. This movie isn't as hopeful as An Inconvenient Truth. Truth to Power is a blockbuster sequel of the dark and gritty Nolan era. It is equal parts depressing, infuriating, inspiring and stressful. But the film isn't without a tinge of hope. While An Inconvenient Truth was a shock to the system, the depressing nature of this follow-up feels more like a direct call to action.

However, always looming in the background of this documentary is the threat on the horizon. While Donald Trump doesn't appear in very much of this film, his presence certainly haunts this movie. While traveling to present his slideshow around the world, we see Gore watching the presidential race in progress and more specifically Donald Trump. The next president promises to eliminate funding to climate control efforts as part of his platform and undo the significant efforts that we see enacted within this movie.

The film teases our unclear future, and we see Al Gore visit the President-Elect at Trump Tower, which almost feels like an end credits scene of a Marvel movie. Trump is Thanos, and the inevitable An Inconvenient Threequel will surely be the Infinity War of film festival documentaries.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10