Thursday, July 22, 2010

Movie review: The Age of Stupid

This is a global warming cautionary tale, a film I caught on Hulu.

The idea behind the movie is that survivors of out of control global climate change look back on our time, ostensibly when something could have been done about it.

It stars Pete Postlethwaite, who turns in his usual excellent performance.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend the movie, for reasons I'll discuss below.

The movie starts off really well, with shots of various parts of the world that have suffered climate change, before finally honing in on an arctic station, run by "the Archivist" (played by Postlethwaite) where we are told all the art treasures of all the world's nations have been preserved.

I liked this introduction quite a bit. Unfortunately, it's a brief interlude before the movie launches into its main vehicle for delivering its message (notice I didn't say telling a story).

The Archivist is looking back on the past, by accessing clips of old documentaries. Real documentaries about the world we currently live in.

Got that? The movie shows us pieces of other documentaries. The documentaries chosen are fine, but I'd much rather have watched any one of the documentaries whole, than the snippets of four documentaries interlaced together.

Second, the movie is really, really vague about the world of the future. We never get to see much of that world, only at the beginning, and a very strange montage of overlapping news voices at the end, that contain such ominous snippets as "after being destroyed for the 3rd time, New Orleans won't be rebuilt again" and such.

Again, I'd really have preferred a more coherent narrative.

I realize this is a very low-budget movie, but even the voice over at the end could have been clearer. It goes so quickly and overlaps so much, that you can't really pick out more than a few phrases here and there.

In short, I'd rather the movie try to say something to me, anything, beyond "Global Warming is real and it will be very, very bad".

That's a fine message, but it's not something I need to watch a 90 minute or so movie to be told.

Perhaps I want the movie to be something it was never intended to be. I wanted an actual narrative about something.

Basically, what little narrative there is seems to be an excuse to recycle some other documentaries and allow the writer/director to speak to the audience directly a few times.

In short, the movie left me unfulfilled in pretty much every way. It provided the merest tease of a narrative, which I liked and wanted more of.

And it showed me pieces of several interesting-looking documentaries, which I liked and wanted to see more of.

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