Racing Extinction (2015) [Review]


You don’t need to see Louis Psihoyos documentary The Cove to understand the angle at which he comes from, but it would help set the scene for this film about Man vs. Nature in its very literal sense.

In his Oscar Winning Doc prior to Racing Extinction, he examined the extremely graphic hunting of Dolphins. It was a harrowing and bloody film that shocked the world, leading to protests at the sites of the hunts, angering local Japanese government officials and the fishing communities for their portrayal in a severely negative light. No doubt this film had an impact on the popularity of such acts, but in his next film, Psihoyos casts his net much wider.

Everyone you could possibly think of is included as enemy number one this time. We are destroying our planet, the animals are lonely and dying, and we are the on-going embodiment of the big bang that wiped out the dinosaurs. We will bring about the end of the world as we know it, and nothing will ever change unless we stop eating shark fin soup and start to drive electric cars. Well, not quite as minimal as that, but that is about the depths of the take-home information in this style over substance documentary.

Nevertheless, it serves its purpose as a shock value documentary delivering hard punches of reality to frighten the casual viewer into action. There are facts, figures and theories thrown at you in stylish ways but little context or solutions, backed to a beautiful Sébastien Tellier-esque soundtrack, spliced with disruptive acts of eco-activism and secret filming. It tugs on the heartstrings showing massacres of entire species, and the beauty of the ones that remain. There is a haunting beauty to it all.

For all the faults, and the extremely one-sided view it presents, you cannot deny the captivating scariness of the continual degradation of the world we live in. This will serve as a high-level education program for those with a passing interest in what the future holds for Earth, but it offers no real depth, solution or understanding of the problem; perhaps the net was cast too widely.

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