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Davis Guggenheim
Al Gore
Writing Credits:

A Global Warning.

Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. "Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message," said Guggenheim. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. "It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely," said Gore.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$367.311 thousand on 4 screens.
Domestic Gross
$23.808 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles::

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/21/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Davis Guggenheim
• Audio Commentary with Producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns and Lesley Chilcott
• “An Update with Former Vice President Al Gore” Featurette
• “The Making of An Inconvenient Truth” Featurette
• “I Need to Wake Up” Music Video


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 16, 2007)

In recent years, documentaries have enjoyed a higher than normal profile on the big screen. In 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11 became a controversial smash, while 2005’s March of the Penguins proved a much cuddlier hit. 2006’s most successful documentary revolves around former Vice President Al Gore, as he warns about global warming in An Inconvenient Truth.

At the start, Gore challenges assumptions about global warming and man’s impact on the environment. He digs into the basic science behind how global warming works – complete with an animated explanation from Futurama - and discusses early investigations of the issues. He goes through carbon dioxide’s impact, what ice-related issues show us, and effects on weather. We also watch how other parts of nature bear the brunt and what these will mean for us. Finally, the movie discusses what causes the problems and what can be done.

Anything that so prominently features a politician will come with plenty of controversy and claims of inaccuracy. Does Truth play with facts and interpret elements for its own goals? Probably, but I’ll leave it to others to bicker about the movie’s political agenda. I’d prefer to stick with a look at the documentary’s positives and negatives.

Truth may be the most static hit film ever made. Essentially it presents a long lecture accompanied by Power Point. That simplifies matters considerably, as the movie isn’t just 90 minutes of Gore on stage. We also get some archival footage along with shots of Gore as he works on the production.

Even with these other elements, Truth stays pretty flat as a visual production. That doesn’t matter, though. In fact, I’m happy that the director doesn’t attempt to throw artificial pizzazz into the flick. When Truth leaves the auditorium, it loses impact. We get more than a few self-aggrandizing elements about how hard Gore worked to alert the authorities about the dangers of global warming, and we find plenty of side trips into Gore’s past. I suppose one could argue we need the notes about Gore’s background and long-term interest to make him credible, but I think these moments get sappy and mushy.

And why do we need a recap of the 2000 election? Again, these segments feel extraneous and like they exist to pat Gore on the back. Perhaps the filmmakers think we need breaks from the stage, but those moments frustrate rather than enhance. Just when the flick starts to get a head of steam it sends us to Gore’s dull memories of childhood. Stay on stage and deal with the issue at hand!

When Truth does just that, it proves quite effective. To be sure, it’s hard to leave the movie without a lot of qualms about the direction in which our planet is headed. We get a clear picture of the issues that confront us. The flick presents the arguments with good clarity, and Gore manages to use visual aids as a nice complement to his points.

Happily, the film doesn’t just pound us with fear and dread. Truth caps with a look at how average citizens can help to make a change. These allow the flick to leave us on a helpful note.

And that’s important. An Inconvenient Truth offers an inconsistent flick, as it consists of a few too many extraneous elements along the way. Nonetheless, it presents an important message and does so in a reasonably clear manner. Because of that, it achieves its short-term goals.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

An Inconvenient Truth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not exceptional, the picture seemed more than satisfactory.

Much of the film came from Gore’s stage presentation, but a mix of archival elements appeared along with shots of Gore out in the world. I considered the stage elements to stand as the main side of things that I would critique. A few issues occasionally marred sharpness, but not to a substantial degree. Most of the movie seemed accurate and well-defined, with just a bit of softness in wider shots. I noticed no jaggies or simmering, while edge enhancement stayed minimal.

As for source flaws, those cropped up only during archival pieces. Elements created expressly for Truth looked fine, as they exhibited no concerns. The majority of the flick was clean.

Colors were subdued but accurate. The stage presentation didn’t exactly lend itself toward bright hues, though the other pieces showed a few brighter hues. I thought the tones were perfectly fine for this movie. Blacks also seemed dark, while low-light shots were appropriately smooth. Despite some softness, the transfer worked out well for the production.

Similar thoughts greeted the low-key Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of An Inconvenient Truth. Indeed, one might find a multichannel mix to be overkill for such a chatty flick, though the material expanded well enough when appropriate. While most of the movie did focus on dialogue, some scenes broadened matters to use the side and rear speakers. These usually came when we saw environmental shots. Effects would occupy the various channels to depict storms and other natural phenomena. Add to that good stereo imaging for the music and the soundfield proved satisfying despite the heavy emphasis on speech.

Audio quality always fared well. Dialogue came across as natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music was lively and vibrant, while effects sounded clear and accurate. Bass response proved quite deep when appropriate. Because the track lacked great breadth, I thought it deserved a “B-“, but it still was good given its focus.

When we move to the extras, we start with two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Davis Guggenheim as he presents a running, screen-specific discussion. The director goes over how he came onto the project, adapting Gore’s presentation for the big screen, filming various sequences and structuring the program, the movie’s title and reception, editorial choices and experiences along the way.

Guggenheim covers the basics with reasonable efficiency, but the commentary rarely amounts to more than that. He presents a low-key personality and doesn’t come across as terribly involved in the discussion. Indeed, he really doesn’t seem to have a lot to say. Not a lot of dead air occurs, but there’s enough to slow down the proceedings. We get a fair amount of praise for Gore as well; the track often feels like it’s intended just to tell us of Al’s greatness. There’s too little good info about the flick and too much dullness.

For the second commentary, we hear from producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns and Lesley Chilcott. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. The content echoes Guggenheim’s chat, as they discuss elements of the production, the message and reactions to the movie, and collaborating with Gore.

The subject of the former veep becomes dominant here. As with the director’s commentary, we get many remarks about how amazing Gore is. Boy, do the various folks lay out a lot of praise for us, and they often come across as rather preachy as well. In particular, David feels like a stern schoolmarm as she chides us for global warming. We get a few decent details about various elements, but there’s not enough interesting content to carry the track.

Instead, it concentrates on the glory that is Saint Al, and that gets old quickly. Don’t get me wrong: I admire Gore and think he’s doing a great thing with his environmental work. I just don’t want to listen to 90 minutes of praise for him.

Next we get An Update with Former Vice President Al Gore. It goes for 32 minutes, 23 seconds as he gives us new facts about the issues discussed in the film. He also tells us a little about his experiences since the flick’s creation. Frankly, most of this seems redundant. While some of the material may be new, the message remains the same, and we don’t need another half an hour of doom and gloom for the movie’s point to connect. 90 minutes was enough, so the “Update” bores.

The Making of An Inconvenient Truth runs 11 minutes and seven seconds. We hear from Guggenheim, Bender and David. We watch the design and creation of the stage set as well as other production logistics. This sounds dry, but it’s actually pretty interesting to see the pieces come together. This is the sort of info that should have been better discussed in the commentaries.

Finally, we get a music video for Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up”. The Oscar-winning tune gets a pretty dull video. Etheridge lip-synchs in front of film clips along with the occasional text blurb about global warming. The song’s okay but the video is a dud.

With An Inconvenient Truth, we get an accessible glimpse of the global warming crisis. The movie sags on occasion due to some annoying editorial choices, but it conveys the appropriate message and manages to stir the viewer. The DVD presents decent picture and audio along with a mix of erratic extras. Though not a stellar release, this is an interesting film and a worthwhile DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.8387 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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