Cinema Review: Planetary | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, February 24th, 2020  


Studio: Abramorama
Directed by Guy Reid

Apr 22, 2015 Web Exclusive
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The earth is in the midst of a grave crisis. Despite what vocal deniers might claim, the science is irrefutable: global warming is an environmental, extinction-generating catastrophe poised to lunge the planet into unprecedented and unpredictable peril. Humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels is a major contributor, a paradigm that has environmentalists, cities, industries, and individuals scrambling to alter the way people consume, use, and produce resources.

Guy Reid’s new film, Planetary, joins the ranks of recent documentaries that examine global warming and proffer solutions to the calamity. However, it is one of the weakest links in the investigative documentary chain. A production of The Planetary Collective—a self-described “creative organization dedicated to worldview interruption” that uses art to showcase the “interdependence” of everything on earth—the film is a yogi’s response to the environmental disaster. Featuring interviews with astronauts (whose descriptions of their stints in space open the film and are by far the best part of the entire documentary), anthropologists, authors, Zen priests, Buddhist monks, scientists, environmentalists, explorers, philosophers, and more, Planetary asks its audience to accept meditation as the solution to global warming. Only by understanding, appreciating, and honoring humankind’s role in the world—itself a living organism—vis-à-vis all other life on earth, can we turn the tides toward sustainability. Everything in the world is connected, all species, all races, all life. Humans need to focus on the role they play within the ecosystem at large. Through deeper understanding of how we relate to one another and to the planet will we become “planetary” and equipped to save the world.

At barely 84 minutes, it seems hard to fathom that Planetary could manage to be as redundant as it is. Reid and writer Steve Kennedy devote the first full half hour to hammering home their point about how doomed the planet is, while offering no glimmer of hope whatsoever. Every interviewee speaks methodically, choosing each word in such a circumspect way that their long pauses add to the boredom engendered by their repetition of what the preceding subject just said. The film is saturated from start to finish with unrealistic, simplistic “solutions” to the environmental crisis from people whose resumes might be impressive, but whose mentality borders on cultish. The only standout is cinematographer Christopher Ferstad’s beautiful shots, which would elevate any other documentary to a thing of beauty. As it stands, Planetary belongs on loop in the waiting room of a meditation center, but it is nowhere near a tangible response to global warming.

Author rating: 3/10

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