Revolution could very well be one of this year’s most important watches, but by the end of the documentary, you’ll be wondering what’s more of a threat: carbon dioxide poisoning in our atmosphere or filmmaker Rob Stewart’s constant need to be on camera. I can’t ignore it. No one can. Stewart just loves to star in his own passion project.
I hesitate to continue with this criticism about the director/producer/writer/cinematographer for fear I get sidetracked, but it’s Stewart’s self-congratulations that almost clouds the facts in Revolution, an otherwise informative yet occasionally stuffy documentary.
Rob Stewart is very proud of himself. He should be. His documentary Sharkwater helped uncover truths about the critical danger sharks are in. But, when a semi-cynical and skeptical question asked at a post-Sharkwater Q&A challenges Stewart to think about what the point of saving a species set to diminish in 2048 would be, Stewart was taken back and driven to make Revolution.
We see Stewart interacting with classes as he teaches young students more about relevant issues and how we can help change this grim outcome. He’s even captured moving and devoted protests in his doc, showing how co-operation and team work can help make a change leading to results rather than pipe dreams.
But, as a documentary filmmaker, there’s a line that is drawn between teaching an audience how they can help and showing an audience how you helped leading to how awesome you are. Stewart is a sharp guy and is dedicated to his topic, which is why it’s even more unfortunate when we see his doc slowly feature him prominently as he shows moviegoers just how much he’s involved with the change as he displays his best “blue steel”.
But while he loves screen time, I don’t believe he’s intentionally going out of his way to make this a glamour project. Rob Stewart cares about fixing these environmental malfunctions. When he’s talking to moviegoers about dangers such as how much carbon dioxide is being pumped into our atmosphere which then affects eco-life within the water, his facts are eye-opening.
Stewart walks us through just how everything is connected. For instance, by unleashing this pollution, it takes its toll on coral, which then leads to shorter lifespans for critters who depend on it for basic necessities.
Stewart and his team of cinematographers have captured all their footage phenomenally. As we see schools of plankton swirl around as they light up the depths of the sea like fireworks, it’s hard to consider and fathom that all of this hidden beauty may not exist towards the peak of our lifetime.
The facts are inspiring, but what’s even more uplifting is Revolution’s attitude towards skeptics. If all nature documentaries have a message that says, “if we all stick together and fight, we can make a difference”, Revolution has a message that says, “No, really. You CAN make a difference”.
While graphic footage of bloodied bodies and de-finning may be a lot to handle near the beginning of Revolution (especially with its G-rating), the footage of protests and activists banding together isn’t overbearing, gimmicky, or ham-fisted. It fills us with confidence that hard-driven teamwork is still used to make a statement. Even though security may eventually escort non-violent spectacles off the property, these brave people have the determination to link arms and push in a non-aggressive manner hoping to enlighten even one person.
Towards the end of Revolution, we see past interviewees and a charismatic class of grade school students give inspiring words of wisdom. The class is the icing on this cake because we see just how thoughtful and inspiring actions can trickle down to younger generations and help ignite ideas.
These final words from the interviewees, of course, is followed by Rob Stewart lying down on the shore in shorty-shorts looking seriously into the water right before Mr. July jumps into the water to swim with sharks. Ladies? Activists? Anyone…?