The 11th Hour Review
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The planet is in serious trouble. There’s no doubt about it. For years, people have been talking about things like global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. It’s all over the evening news and the Discovery Channel—and now it’s even started showing up in your local movie theater. If you feel that you still haven’t seen enough, though, you can always check out the latest environmental horror film, The 11th Hour—but I’d advise against it.

This new documentary, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, once again talks about the damage we’ve done to our environment. Through a constant barrage of images of natural disasters and discussions by a number of scholars and environmentalists and scientists, it makes the same point that people have been making for years: we’ve made a mess of our planet. Unfortunately, though, after watching this movie, it’s hard to feel anything but exhausted.

I don’t mean to make light of the seriousness of the situation. And I have no problem with informing the masses. In fact, I’m all for it. I’m a firm believer in the line from the old G. I. Joe cartoons: “Knowing is half the battle.” The problem, however, is that The 11th Hour tries to speak to the masses in big words and jargon that no one but environmental scholars will understand. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, it’s every bit as captivating as a 90-minute physics lecture.

If you want to get through to normal people, you need to speak in a language that normal people can understand. Al Gore did that with last year’s An Inconvenient Truth. Though it wasn’t a wildly entertaining film, Gore made his point through a bunch of PowerPoint slides and charts and graphs and illustrations. He spoke in plain English, and he provided facts and figures that everyone could understand. And that’s why his film made such a huge impact (and eventually won a well-deserved Oscar).

The 11th Hour, on the other hand, is hard to follow. The speakers are dull and lifeless, and I found it virtually impossible to focus on what they were trying to tell me. To make matters worse, there are too many things going on at the same time—there are people to listen to and pictures to look at and captions to read. There’s just too much to try to absorb—and the effect is dizzying.

Not only is The 11th Hour hard to follow, but it also fails to offer any practical solutions. While Gore’s film also fell short in this department, at least it suggested a few small ways in which normal people can make a difference. The 11th Hour, however, focuses on advances in environmental design—and unless you’re looking into building your own environmentally friendly skyscraper, that’s not going to do you a whole lot of good. It also suggests that you can make your point through buying the right things—but it doesn’t take the time to explain what those things are.

Instead of laying out the problem in plain English and explaining how the members of the audience can do something to help, The 11th Hour depresses its audience without offering much hope (other than David Suzuki’s suggestion that love is the answer). And unless you’re a physicist or an environmental scholar, you’ll find it dull, confusing, and seriously disappointing.

If you really want to help save the planet, you can start by saving a little energy and skipping this movie. You’d be better off using the time to plant a tree or visit your local recycling center.

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