The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
“Before the Flood” is a star-studded rally for an important cause, the need to save the world from apocalyptic climate change. Directed by Fisher Stevens and hosted by newly Oscar-annointed Leonardo DiCaprio who talks with the likes of Pope Francis and President Barack Obama, “Before the Flood” is another global warming warning sign, more honorable in its intentions than in having a distinct voice to ultimately make a difference.
DiCaprio never does indie films but he can turn documentaries into a type of event, as with 2007’s “The 11th Hour,” which he narrated, and now this film. Beginning its journey with when he was designated as UN Messenger of Peace in 2014, “Before the Flood” captures the different conversations he’s had with scientists, officials and locals who experience global warming first-hand. From Greenland to China to Kiribati, he is our surrogate into examples of climate change, and then the translator for ideas that are always shocking (the melting of the polar ice caps, America’s mass consumption of energy compared to other countries) but never entirely new. He functions most as a translator, asking broad questions to subjects, and punctuating different sequences with contemplative, emotionally empty shots.
With the star power that is here, it’s disappointing that the movie lacks such personality. The film does have the unique access to a DiCaprio that’s not on the set of a fictional project or in an awards ceremony tux, but he added nothing aside from his name and face. His underwhelming time on camera is matched by appearances from the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama and Pope Francis, themselves offering brief, elementary advice to the audience.
Stevens treats the mission of appealing to global warming as a commercial, using quick cuts and fast graphics when displaying atrocities but never letting the horror of the natural destruction resonate. It’s apocalyptic entertainment with easy heroes (recycling, turning the lights off, telling your friend to do so) and villains (climate change deniers, FOX News), but with only talk of the emotional stakes.
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