Revolution Review

poster from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

I make it a point to read/watch the environmental books and documentaries that seem like they have new information to give me. Rob Stewart’s Revolution has been racking up the awards at film festivals and the trailers trumpet it as, well, revolutionary. That plus its focus on the oceans intrigued me enough to pay box office prices to see a documentary that’s not even an hour and a half long.

Filmmaker Rob Stewart of Sharkwater fame turns his sights toward discovering how we can stop ocean acidification to save humanity.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you there’s not much about Revolution that’s revolutionary. It can best be described as ‘Rob Stewart discovers what everyone else already knows.’ It’s extremely light on scientific fact and the presentation is disjointed and superficial. It’s like a dumbed down version of An Inconvenient Truth.

I’ve been thinking about it since I got back from the theater, and I can’t put my finger on one new fact that I gleaned from watching Revolution. It simply follows Rob Stewart’s journey as he flies around the world burning a lot of fossil fuels (which he does acknowledge) getting an elementary school level education on climate change. Let’s sum up what we can learn from Revolution, shall we?


dead sharks from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

And also disgusting. Can you imagine how bad all those dead fish smell?

This fact is a re-hash of his last documentary, Sharkwater. However, it can also be extended to cover the fact that ALL the creatures in the ocean are being wiped out, and not just by fishing – also by acidification of the oceans caused by their having to absorb all the carbon dioxide we put out.


Professor Charlie Veron from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

Let’s put it this way: your next film should be ‘Rob Stewart Builds an Armageddon Bunker.’

I can count on one hand the number of actual scientists Rob talked to in this film, and he backs up almost none of his assertions with references to scientific studies. But talking to one scientist is enough to get the point across. That scientists have known for years that burning fossil fuels is wrecking the planet and that it will wreak major havoc in our lifetimes. But that no one who can do anything about it will listen to them.


a cuttlefish from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

A cuttlefish attempts crams itself into a coconut to
make more room in the ocean for Rob Stewart’s massive ego.

Rob takes frequent breaks from his climate change lessons to snorkel in his underpants following cute animals around with a camera, talking about how awesome they are in a way that’s meant to sound like they’re a metaphor for something. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just feels like an intermission where we’re supposed to admire his hot body.


Canadian protestors from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

… and it’s not just hippies anymore. Only mostly.

The scientists have not managed to convince the politicians that we really should change our habits now before we all starve to death in the deserts where our gardens used to be, but they have succeeded in changing the minds of a lot of ordinary people who like not starving. Those people turn out in handfuls to protest environment-related issues but mostly sit in their cars fretting about carbon emissions while they wait for their kids to get out of soccer practice.


Felix Finkbeiner from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

*sniff* but my mom told me I can be anything when I grow up, and I want to be alive.

When they’re not in soccer practice, kids are hearing bad stuff about the kind of world they’re going to inherit when they grow up, and they don’t like it. Unfortunately, the only thing they can really do about it is to pester older people to make better choices and plant trees. This drives them crazy, especially when the older people who are in charge of everything seem determined to do the exact opposite of what they would be doing if they actually cared about their kids.


Rob Stewart talks to the Mexican police from the documentary Revolution

ROB: So why do you do it?
COP: Well, money. Duh! Isn’t that why you make movies?

Just in case you were wondering why the politicians don’t listen to the people, this is why – the corporations have all the money and therefore all the power. If they want to hang on to both, they need to keep raping the environment until they run out of environment, at which point they will presumably devote their massive profits to developing space travel for the purposes of raping other planets.

An aeral view of the Alberta tar sands from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

Goal of tar sands: turning ugly old forests into beautiful moonscapes
suitable for filming science fiction movies (YOU’RE WELCOME!)

Rob Stewart dances around but doesn’t address another big reason why we’re in so much trouble: there are just TOO MANY PEOPLE. Any measures we take or don’t take are going to screw some people over, so the question is: who will it be? The last section is about what you can do if you want to help, but his suggestions are rehashes too. Revolution is more about alerting people to the fact that there is a problem than solving the problem, which is a shame, because most people already know there’s a problem. What they need to know is what they can realistically do in their own lives to change things. Personally, I’d tell them not to have any kids (or any more kids) because if there’s anything we DON’T need it’s more people who need food and living space and electricity. But some people would probably get mad.

Rob Stewart is MC at an environment rally from the documentary Revolution

Humans are the problem, so if you want to help, you should all
go home and kill yourselves. THANK YOU! GOOD NIGHT!!

I’ve been very critical, so you’re probably guessing that I’m now going to tell you not to see Revolution. You’re right and you’re wrong. Though Revolution treads well worn territory covered better by films like An Inconvenient Truth and books like Climate Wars, if you’re a little kid who knows nothing of climate change, it’s a decent introduction. Plus simply adding to the sheer volume of media promoting the problem can’t help but add extra weight to the shoulders of people who are still resisting. Maybe someday they’ll crack. Hopefully it’s before we all die.

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