Carbon Nation claims, on the giant paper sleeve the screener came in, that it is a film that doesn’t care if you believe in climate change. And then it goes on to base the whole film on how to fix climate change. I’m pretty sure you need to believe in climate change to watch a film about fixing climate change. I think that doubting climate change is probably a defect people develop from watching Fox News, don’t get me wrong, but saying up front that you don’t care about something and then basing an entire film on that very premise is lying to an audience. It could be a move to trick doubters into watching it, these type of films do nothing but preach to the choir anyways; but if it is a trick, that’s evil. And just asking to be attacked by angry disciples of Murdoch. Not only is it a lame tactic, but by claiming you don’t have to believe in climate change to accept the movie, you are saying that the idiots that don’t believe in climate change have a valid opinion. Just admit your movie has the common sense to expect people to believe in facts before they watch it, if nothing else it should idiot proof the movie instead of giving an easy attack route with false claims.
Carbon Nation has its heart in the right place. Even if that place is everywhere at once. The film takes a shotgun approach to the subject, throwing new problems and solutions at the audience every ten minutes. It doesn’t really work as the hopeful instructions on how to fix the earth it desperately wants to be, but it helps the entertainment value. If only a little bit. The film has big giant heart aspirations, aspirations which can easily bog down a film and turn it into a glorified Hallmark card. Carbon Nation doesn’t outright avoid the groan inducing ‘hold hands and buy the world a coke’ moments, but it passes them by before you can even notice you’re being preached to.
In the eighty minute runtime the film shows us about ten different and specific problems, and almost double the “solutions”. It’s to the films benefit that it’s constantly throwing out the fixes though; the problems are immediate and scary, but the solutions are either really, really fucking stupid or simple common sense. Yes, if we all drove electric cars that would start the world on the rose colored path to redemption, but then we’d all look like magic emo pirates driving our non-phallic vehicles down a road paved with good intentions. I want to drive a Bugatti with an engine that sounds like loud angry gay sex someday. Don’t take that away from me, hippie. But for every patchouli loving, pony-tail having idealist in the film there is someone with an actual plausible idea. Stuff like wind farms, solar panels, and corn based fuel. Different sources of energy. The kind of big duh in the room the whole time. It’s nothing new, and people telling us these are good ideas isn’t going to fix anything, but still, it’s hard to fault them for trying. These are good solutions to problems that if left unchecked will murder the Earth. There are about ten movies a year that tell me what to change so the earth doesn’t go all Mad Max up in our shit, but most of them focus on one small detail over the course of a painful hour and half. Carbon Nation has the courtesy to tell me me a billion things during its short run time. At least then I don’t have time to think about how I won’t do anything because I’m lazy and fuck that.
Huggable bleeding heart in the right place or not, Carbon Nation is still pretty awful as a film. It’s well paced and has the resurrected corpse of Robert Stack narrating. I’ll give it that. As a documentary, though, it’s unfocused and familiar. It’s kind of like the fast food of green documentaries; you get the same thing you get everywhere else, only you get more of it and it’s far less fulfilling. I appreciate that I didn’t need a suitcase full of cocaine to stay awake during the film, but keeping my attention by screaming a billion different things to me at once is not exactly the stuff of great filmmaking or engaging documentaries. I’m all for people wanting to fix things, change the world and all that, but we’ve already got a hundred releases a year with that very same intention. The film has a lot to say, but none of it is remotely new. Leveling the rain forest? Turns out that’s bad. Depleting natural resources and harming the environment at the same time? Got news, the scientists had a meeting and they don’t like that. Think about anything that could possibly be harming our environment and they have it covered with a couple of human interest stories and some mind numbing facts. Yes indeed, we are fuck punching the Earth into oblivion and blaming it on the other guy. Of course, the obvious solution is to spend a bunch of money to make a sloppy film that will only be seen by Ed Begley Jr. There is nothing to learn from depleting natural resources and harming the environment at the same time? Carbon Nation and it isn’t going to make anyone get up and change the world. The last fifty films with the exact same message didn’t change anything and most of those had the benefit of being well made.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars