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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » This Changes Everything (Blu-ray)
This Changes Everything (Blu-ray)
Video Watchdog // PG // January 12, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted March 20, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Film:



This Changes Everything, the new and long in-production documentary from Avi Lewis and writer Naomi Klein, establishes right from the start that it knows it's yet another climate change film, even suggesting that some have grown bored with seeing images that might point to the impending end of the world. The intention here lies in shaking the audience awake so they'll concentrate on what's become a common and widely-discussed hot topic, especially around the election season, but this tactic has another, less desirable effect. By leading with these comments, despite some mild dark humor involving a polar bear, the documentary can immediately be seen as one that knows it's crowded with others and will face an uphill battle in making the content fresh and compelling for its intended audience. Despite earnest, passionate objectives and a personalized viewpoint on climate change, This Changes Everything struggles with being too scattershot in its global focus and not quite personal enough to reach a deeper compulsion to engage the material.

From the start, the documentary -- a companion to Naomi Klein's book of the same name -- operates under the roundabout assumption that its viewer base knows much of the ins-and-outs of climate change, instead using its ninety-minute runtime to explore the geological and social impacts of the phenomenon, as well as the efforts to fight back against it. This Changes Everything covers a cluster of individual stories ranging across the world, from the Canadian tar pits to China and India, offering an intimate look at seven regional responses to the damaging effects of traditional resource exploitation upon the land. Also, it highlights how government, industry, even other civilians resist against the efforts to expand their message and access areas called "sacrifice zones". To counter the ominous tone, the doc also covers how certain areas have adapted to renewable energy efforts, from solar panels to wind machines, offering examples of how other countries could handle their own issues with investment and more consideration.

This Changes Everything attempts to piece together a mosaic of what the fight for climate change looks like around the globe, showcasing the similarities between those who resist against the status quo and how their respective oversight authorities respond differently to their concerns. By traveling between so many locations, however, the doc never settles in with most of the personal stories, moving to another place just as soon as any kind of deeper connection to that area -- in Alberta, in Montana, in Greece -- starts to take root. This approach has its positives and negatives: there's a degree of international community that forms by not dwelling too long on the individual issues, but the fleeting personal focus also dilutes the momentum of the documentary's intentions. Potency can be found in the stories of the Canadian Cree tribe's legal struggles to access their land and the concerns over oil close to a Montana farmstead, but the segments leave one wanting more info about them than concisely covered here.

When paired with its message about companies and governments being about the bottom dollar, This Changes Everything seems like it's only scratching the surface. What it does well is formulate an overall "story" about where the discussion and efforts to support climate change could eventually end up, highlighting how different energy options have been instituted and how perseverance -- and out-and-out protest -- has had its share of victories. Natural disasters and manmade issues underscore what's at stake throughout the documentary, from Hurricane Sandy to the smog prevalence in China, counterbalanced by how people should coexist with Earth instead of the historical effort to control the planet's output. Thing is, the documentary intentionally focuses on making incremental logistical improvements while also underscoring the dire situation at-hand, acting as both a booming voice of warning and a judicious representation of prevention. It's a respectable fusion of tones, but it feels unfocused and doesn't accomplish enough to elevate it beyond being more than another climate change film.


The Blu-ray:




Video and Audio:

This Changes Everything mixes together a lot of interviews with handheld doc-style cinematography, scenic shots, and archival footage, creating an expectedly variable visual style when all pieced together. It also leads to a vacillating Blu-ray transfer as well, packaged here from VSC in an attractive 1080p AVC treatment that bounces all over the place in Mbps streaming, ranging from the teens and lower to the low-30s. In some shots, pixelation can be spotted in dense details depending on the source material, but that's to be expected considering the range of recording devices and sources. The interviews provide ample skin tones and fine contrast evenness, while some of the aerial and scenic shots emphasize impressive textures, color balance, and fluidity of camera movement. Font text sports clean lines in graphics, and black levels are generally well-represented and appropriately deep where necessary.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track accompanies the high-definition transfer, though there understandably isn't a lot of surround heft and clarity demands throughout. The dialogue during the interviews remains impressively balanced, keeping all recorded session clear and aware of lower-end buoyancy, though not without a muffled bulkiness to it at times. The music is responsible for most of the separation across the channels, but never intrudes on the recorded material, which preserves the organic presence of the sound atmosphere throughout. A few louder sound effects occur, such as the clanking of machinery, that tap into respectable high-def clarity, while smaller sound effects like the splashing/rushing of water and the hum of electrical equipment are distinct and clear. The audio track certainly gets the job done. English and French subtitles are available.


Special Features:

Along with a series of fifteen Deleted Scenes, which cannot all be played at once, This Changes Everything also arrives with an Interview (35:26, 16x9 HD) with producer Alfonso Cuaron, director Avi Lewis and writer/narrator Naomi Klein. Cuaron name-drops Children of Men as a partial inspiration for his participation in presenting the film, Naomi Lewis tracks through her research, and Lewis discusses the lengthy editing process and the "episodic" tempo of the doc. VSC have also included a Trailer (2:22, 16x9 HD).


Final Thoughts:

This Changes Everything isn't a game changer documentary about climate change, but it does encapsulate the energy of collective efforts across the world who are dedicated to making a difference ... and those directly impacted by the issue. Fewer, more deeply-explored stories and a more assertive examination of how to combat the global issue would've improved things, but the effect created by the documentary's worldwide portrait of industrial interest, government intervention, and activist diligence offers a fine supplemental glimpse at what's happening and what's being done. Very mildly Recommended



Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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