'This Changes Everything' a Cursory Jumble of a Climate Doc

Directed by: Avi Lewis; Runtime: 89 minutes
Grade: C+

This Changes Everything, the new and long in-production documentary from Avi Lewis and writer Naomi Klein, establishes right from the start that it knows it's yet another climate change film, even suggesting that some have grown bored with seeing images that might point to the impending end of the world. The intention here lies in shaking the audience awake so they'll concentrate on what's become a common and widely-discussed hot topic, especially around the election season, but this tactic has another, less desirable effect. By leading with these comments, despite some mild dark humor involving a polar bear, the documentary can immediately be seen as one that knows it's crowded with others and will face an uphill battle in making the content fresh and compelling for its intended audience. Despite earnest, passionate objectives and a personalized viewpoint on climate change, This Changes Everything struggles with being too scattershot in its global focus and not quite personal enough to reach a deeper compulsion to engage the material.

From the start, the documentary -- a companion to Naomi Klein's book of the same name -- operates under the roundabout assumption that its viewer base knows much of the ins-and-outs of climate change, instead using its ninety-minute runtime to explore the geological and social impacts of the phenomenon, as well as the efforts to fight back against it. This Changes Everything covers a cluster of individual stories ranging across the world, from the Canadian tar pits to China and India, offering an intimate look at seven regional responses to the damaging effects of traditional resource exploitation upon the land. Also, it highlights how government, industry, even other civilians resist against the efforts to expand their message and access areas called "sacrifice zones". To counter the ominous tone, the doc also covers how certain areas have adapted to renewable energy efforts, from solar panels to wind machines, offering examples of how other countries could handle their own issues with investment and more consideration.

This Changes Everything attempts to piece together a mosaic of what the fight for climate change looks like around the globe, showcasing the similarities between those who resist against the status quo and how their respective oversight authorities respond differently to their concerns. By traveling between so many locations, however, the doc never settles in with most of the personal stories, moving to another place just as soon as any kind of deeper connection to that area -- in Alberta, in Montana, in Greece -- starts to take root. This approach has its positives and negatives: there's a degree of international community that forms by not dwelling too long on the individual issues, but the fleeting personal focus also dilutes the momentum of the documentary's intentions. Potency can be found in the stories of the Canadian Cree tribe's legal struggles to access their land and the concerns over oil close to a Montana farmstead, but the segments leave one wanting more info about them than concisely covered here.

When paired with its message about companies and governments being about the bottom dollar, This Changes Everything seems like it's only scratching the surface. What it does well is formulate an overall "story" about where the discussion and efforts to support climate change could eventually end up, highlighting how different energy options have been instituted and how perseverance -- and out-and-out protest -- has had its share of victories. Natural disasters and manmade issues underscore what's at stake throughout the documentary, from Hurricane Sandy to the smog prevalence in China, counterbalanced by how people should coexist with Earth instead of the historical effort to control the planet's output. Thing is, the documentary intentionally focuses on making incremental logistical improvements while also underscoring the dire situation at-hand, acting as both a booming voice of warning and a judicious representation of prevention. It's a respectable fusion of tones, but it feels unfocused and doesn't accomplish enough to elevate it beyond being more than another climate change film.

For the full Blu-ray review, head over to DVDTalk.com: [Click Here]


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