FrackNation: Film Review
Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, Magdalena Segieda
This documentary is the anti-"Gasland" with its highly favorable perspective on the controversial method of drilling known as fracking.
It’s challenging being a film critic these days. Not only are we expected to have an expansive knowledge of the medium, but the endless profusion of political-themed documentaries require strong familiarity with practically every social issue of the day.
That bit of whining is prompted by FrackNation, the title of which should tell you that it deals with the controversial method of drilling for natural gas and petroleum known as fracking. It’s also the subject of Josh Fox’s acclaimed 2010 documentary Gasland — a principal target here — and the recently released Matt Damon drama Promised Land, which no doubt spurred the timing of this film’s theatrical debut.
Unlike those efforts, this Kickstarter-funded documentary featuring freelance journalist Phelim McAleer takes a decidedly positive approach to the practice, pretty much heralding it as the savior of mankind. In scene after scene, the muckraking McAleer extolls its virtues and derides those lefty “green extremists” who would doom us to a return to the Stone Age.
The principal theme is the economic hardship imposed by rural communities and farmers by the banning of the process, which according to the film has been around since 1947. McAleer makes the claim that the vast majority affected are actually in favor of fracking, including numerous testimonials from heartland figures who make such claims that it would “maintain the natural beauty of the area” and that “shale gas is a gift from God.” More provocatively, he also makes purports that the anti-fracking movement is being funded by the Russians who are desperate to preserve their oil dominance.
Whatever the truth of these claims, the film undercuts its convincingness with its hyperbolic approach. Indeed, the climactic montage--detailing the importance of energy to everything ranging from tap water to kidney transplants — makes Reefer Madness seem subtle.
And McAleer’s dogged, Inspector Javert-like pursuit of Fox, to which the Gasland director responds by simply ignoring him, seems merely petulant. Compared to Michael Moore’s similar attempts to confront former General Motors CEO Roger Smith in Roger & Me, a film to which this effort aspires in terms of provocation if not politics, it’s silly stuff.
Opens Jan. 11 (Hard Boiled Films)
Directors/screenwriters/producers: Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, Magdalena Segieda
Executive producers: Ann McElhinney, Phelim McAleer, Barton Sidles
Director of photography: Ben Huddleston
Editor: Jeff Hawkins
Composers: Boris Zelkin, Deeji Mincey
Not rated, 77 minutes
Titans of Comic-Con: Stars Re-Create Classic Characters (Photos)
- Exclusive Portraits of Robert Griffin III, Ronda Rousey, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Photos)
- MOBA: Inside the Biggest Sporting Event You've Never Heard Of (Photos)
- Emmy Awards 2014: The Nominees (Photos)
- Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2014 (Photos)
- Sexual Harassment At Comic-Con Leads To Call For New Convention Policy
- A Conversation with CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason, Plus Chase Rice, Gentle Giant's Derek Shulman & William Gage Blanton
- The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Trailer Is Here To Fight
- Robert Davi: Singing the Songs He Loves in a Place He Loves
- 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay' Debuts First Teaser Trailer - Watch Now!
- 'Orange Is The New Black' Almost Sweeps Young Hollywood Awards 2014 - See Complete Winners List!
- Newlyweds Naya Rivera & Ryan Dorsey Kiss, Look So in Love in Los Angeles - See Her Huge Wedding Ring!
- Justin Bieber Receives the Champ of Charity Award at the Young Hollywood Awards 2014