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The 11th Hour

Warner Independent Pictures

Review in a Hurry:  There is no room for reason or compelling data in this grossly manipulative and sloppy propaganda flick. The filmmakers are simply out to break you. They want your palms raw and bloody from hysterical hand-wringing, your back broken from crushing guilt and your eyes stinging with tears of shame. They would also like you to recycle.

The Bigger Picture:  There is a growing consensus that climate change is a significant problem about which the people of Earth, Americans especially, need to start getting serious. The 11th Hour brings nothing new to the table. It only offers sound and fury, augmenting the most alarmist voices in the discussion about global warming. But not even the choir this movie's preaching to is safe from the toxic gamma rays of guilt and finger pointing.

The movie is divided in two parts, one more worthwhile and responsible than the other. The first is the shame section. Over a disturbing heavy-metal score, footage of sad penguins, McDonalds wrappers, tornadoes, starving refugees, exploding volcanoes and sad sea mammals, talking heads decry the woeful state of humanity and its fragile little planet.

The talking heads range from bigwig experts, such as Mikhail Gorbachev, to shamans from the Iroquois tribes. Every now and then writer/producer/narrator/
dreamy environmentalist Leo DiCaprio shows up posed in front of a murky pond, a smog-covered skyline or on a pristine mountaintop to deliver some overwrought piece of narrative about climate change.

The second—and far more interesting—section focuses on solutions. Fewer shamans, more engineers. Here we get some innovative strategies for combating all the negative effects human industries and existence have on the planet. To make up for the hour-long emotional pummeling, the filmmakers try to strike a cheerier note: The best fix-all solution is love. (If only the Beatles had spent their time writing policy instead of that damn rock 'n' roll!)

There are some chilling facts and figures spewed out over footage of falling ice and wilting trees, but the film doesn't back them up with anecdotes, case studies, tangible stories or anything resembling a narrative. So, instead of a story, we get doomsday statistics, incongruous montages, a watery-eyed Leo, loud music and the sense things would be better if we had never been born.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  If you're a card-carrying environmental activist who likes to pay money to have your political views reinforced, then The 11th Hour is worth every penny.