11 years after the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore is back and more powerful than we could have possibly imagined. Well, no actually. The content of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power still packs a punch, and as far as composition goes it's a stunner. At the same time, we can't help but feel that after a decade of discussion surrounding climate change, the potency of Gore's central message has been somewhat diluted.
Think of it this way: if An Inconvenient Truth was a diagnosis, An Inconvenient Sequel is a check-up. The outlook is still grim, as Gore illustrates with evidence from around the world – melting ice sheets in Greenland, devastating weather events across South-East Asia, flooding in the streets of Miami. But the effect isn't quite as shocking as in the original, although this may be a comment on society's apathy rather than the content of the documentary itself.
Naturally, this follow-up has a decidedly political bent. Shot and edited in 2016, the film captures a snapshot of the international atmosphere in the lead up the US election, and there's an extra layer of tragedy that comes watching from the other side. While the original movie battled against the widespread ignorance of climate change, the antagonist in the sequel is the political machinations that prevent a real and widespread response to the threat. And the looming spectre of Donald Trump is the perfect embodiment of this theme.
The most compelling part of the doco is the intimate glimpse it gives at the workings at the UNFCCC Paris Climate Change Conference. It was a tumultuous time politically, with a terrorist attack in the French capital having claimed the lives of more than 130 people just days before. But the most interesting element is the negotiations between signatories. Gore, it would seem, played an integral role in helping the united countries reach a voluntary agreement, and the behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations are fascinating – if rather heavily edited.
Admittedly, the film does feel a bit heavy on Gore – there are some rambling asides about his political come-up and education programs that stretch a little too long. Viewers may also feel a little worn down by the grim subject matter, although at least the movie finishes on a somewhat positive note. The call to action in the dying minutes of An Inconvenient Sequel – to speak up, to protest, and to be heard to enable change – is a vitally important one. That's true now more than ever before.