|Index||9 reviews in total|
I thought this was an excellent mini-series. It certainly managed to
hold my attention. It was well acted with no notable exceptions. It was
well paced, relevant, and frighteningly believable. I cannot say I know
anything about this prior to catching it on TV, and I really don't have
the background to suggest how factually accurate any aspect of this
might be, but it certainly is an eye-opener and a possible starting
place for people to become interested in the global politics and
economics surrounding the existing establishment and the impact and
importance of climate change and environmental awareness.
This sort of program is what I have been expecting a move towards in a supposedly educated, modern world. I honestly think individuals fail to realize the power they have in todays society. The ability for any of us individually or collectively have our voices heard in a global forum via television, and in more recent times, the internet, is something we all conveniently manage to forget in our own personal pursuit of entertainment. Programs like this use the oft wasted resources not only to entertain, but to engage us, and even help to educate us to the fragile nature of the world we have helped to forge. At the end, we get to back to our self-indulgent lifestyle, but perhaps feeling a bit more consciously aware of our own silent participation and perpetuation of the status quo. I believe this mini-series challenges us to face the facts by confronting us with the cold reality that no matter what the ultimate reason ends up being, things will not just continue on the way they presently do. If were smart and bold enough, we will prepare ourselves to meet the challenges and deal with the issues before it is forced upon us, ready or not.
The plot reverberation with thunderous force of oil politic. The script
was gift to the cast who seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to
convey the serious message and the message was all too prophetic.
Frighteningly prophetic consider the script was written some years
earlier. If you read "Carbon Wars" by Jeremy Leggett you will learn
that the politics of climate summits is all too real and you'll
appreciate that anything published ever by the IPCC is diluted dribble
and at least 10 years behind the real consensus of honest scientists
and heartfelt politicians.
One key message it drives home at the finale moment (that maybe I should have realised before now) is that many US citizens really believe their country will survive or maybe have an overall benefit from climate change. So whilst much of the rest of planet will suffer greatly they have no need to sacrifice there living standard. "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas tells us that another beneficiary will be Russia, but they risk getting invaded by China for their oil and expanded cultivatable farmland. And so the other key message in the programme's is that climate change and oil shortages could spark world war three.
If you live in Europe may not need to worry so much unless - you are under 25. But don't buy a less then 2 meters below sea as it may depreciate in value as the populace becomes more aware of the future risks.
This was a great drama with rich dialogue that I could watch again several times. That's the test of a good TV production, the 'watch it again' score.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
BURN UP is a sharply made four hour mini-series co-produced between the UK and Canada that tackles environmental issues - chiefly global warming - and wraps them up in a cracking conspiracy thriller. The series begins with a mass murder in the Saudi Arabian desert and climaxes at an environmental summit in Calgary. The main thrust of the plot is that evidence exists proving global warming is much farther along - and far more severe - than was previously believed, but is being suppressed to protect the economy. Acting honors belong to WEST WING vet Bradley Whitford as a morally vacant oil executive (dubbed the "High Prince of Carbon") determined to keep the oil flowing no matter what the damage or cost, and Marc Warren (HUSTLE)as an amusingly blunt British politician fighting against the tide. Fine work is also done by SPOOKS star Rupert Penry-Jones as a young oil executive awakening to the evil he is part of, and Neve Campbell as an environmental advocate working for him. A number of the personnel from SPOOKS worked on the mini-series, including director Omar Madha (doing an exceptional job here), and the intelligent script is by FULL MONTY scribe Simon Beaufoy. Lavishly produced (it actually looks better than a number of films I've seen in recent years) BURN UP is never boring, and achieves what it sets out to do: present a story that engages and thrills the viewer.
I can understand why a lot of viewers tuned out after the ponderous
first episode, but it is a shame, as the second instalment ratcheted
the tension up nicely. The drag on the story was not the the weight of
polemic, so much as the human interest elements; these had some
relevance in setting up character motivation and building plot, but it
was impossible to care about Rupert Penry-Jones bland corporate man or
Neve Campbell's simpering environmental do-gooder. Also the ending
depended a lot on our accepting the relationship between Penry-Jones
and Bradley Whitford, but the background to this was never explained.
The environmental scenarios in the storyline were certainly credible, the political aspects perhaps less so. The rival lobbyists played by Bradley Whitford and Marc Warren did not seem rooted in any recognisable political power structure, and it is to the credit of both actors that the characters came to life as more than two dimensional cyphers. The depiction of big oil was perhaps simplistic. Not all in the industry are opposed to Kyoto; outside of the US at least, it is seen as a commercial opportunity. The likes of BP and Shell do not particularly care what energy agenda Governments adopt so long as they send out clear signals and stand-by them, enabling investments to be planned with minimal risk. US intransigence on Kyoto is driven more by a lack of political will to tackle the average voter's seeming belief that it is their God-ordained right to consume a vastly disproportionate share of the planet's resources.
At once fulfilling and confounding expectations. It has half the cast
and all the production values of BBC flagship dramas (Spooks and
Hustle) that fall short of their superior American counterparts. But it
has backed its ambition with money on wonderful location shoots, Lukas
Strebel's feature-grade photography and a trump card of political drama
Bradley Whitford tears around this 'TV mini-series' in a Michael Douglas-in-Falling Down buzzcut, making himself the least likable, most watchable character on screen. His gravitas, warped into delivering the ideological heart of the script - not simply that climate change is bad but rather the sociopolitical implications for dealing with it are extremely serious - is the sine qua non of this film's success, such as it is.
The principal cast grouped around Whitford dispense the narrative drama ably enough. I found myself more impressed with Neve Campbell than with her British counterparts (Penry-Jones & Marc Warren). Here and elsewhere the script demands a sort of infomercial mentality though which always grates. British TV drama still isn't quite there. 5/10
Take a likable cast and put them in a dull political thriller that
never really works. That is pretty much all there is to say about 'Burn
Up', a show that aired in the UK in 2008.
I like Neve Campbell, I think she's underrated, but this role does nothing for her. Bradley Whitford certainly knows his way around a political drama, after his 7 year stint on 'The West Wing', but even he manages to be utterly flat here.
A bit of a flop sadly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is good case that the issue of energy and climate needs to be
addressed as fiction, since the public is more likely to grasp actors
saying lines than it is scientists showing charts.
There is a huge amount of drama in upper corporate life, even without the obligatory, and in this case, improbable, sex that needs (according to some unwritten law of scripts) to be included.
However, if you are looking for either, don't look here.
From the first scene onwards, the improbable aspects of the script overwhelm us. The shooting in the desert could have been carried out by Boy Scouts, for all its effectiveness. They start shooting in broad daylight and still, somehow, manage to miss 14% of the targets.
The main character jumps from a middle level flunky position to being chairman of the board, with absolutely no rational explanation. An apparently British oil company reports its earnings as "12 billion Dollars" time and again, as if Pounds didn't exist - as if, by Big Oil industry terms, $12 billion was a lot of money. It is a lot of money, for a decent quarter, for a year it puts them squarely in the middle ranks. The new chairman seems to have nothing to do - which is unlike most chief executives of major companies in my experience - no meetings, no business trips to see operations, clients or bankers etc. He cheerfully accepts a Maybach as a "gift" from some unexplained Arab on his first day at work, which would mean, in the real world, his last day as chairman.
The first episode dragged so much, and the story veered all over the place, that there was a danger of getting car sick.
The second episode, was, if anything, stranger. Much of it takes place in Calgary, a city I know fairly well (full disclosure: I have spent three decades in and around the oil business) and which is, as a town, almost totally..functional. The Canadian side of the production decided to save money (and energy?) by cutting down on the use if lights, so many of the Calgary scenes are very difficult to see, much less follow.
Silly things continue to abound. The Saudi oilfields are in the EAST of the country (generally referred to as "The Eastern Province") and yet the writer kept talking about "The Western Desert" - a term used in Egypt, not in Saudi. Geologic data on an area as large as France and Germany is supposedly gathered by seven secret geologists, and fits into a hard disc the size of an Iphone. The main character looks at it for ten seconds and knows exactly what it is.
By 2008, when this was made, the prospect that the Saudis have been exaggerating their oil resources had been a frequent topic of conversation within the industry, and well beyond. Nothing in an Iphone was likely to prove, or disprove that very complicated discussion.
I won't even go into the politics, except to say that the BBC managed to "get back" at Hollywood's idiotic habit for many years of automatically casting a Brit as the Bad Guy by casting the entire American government as The Collective Bad Guy.
Why did they cast Japanese to play the PRC delegates? Since when did Chinese bow when they shake hands (a Japanese habit, which the Chinese would NOT do just for that reason)? I sincerely hope that oil lobbyist are not quite as incompetent as they are portrayed here, or you have to wonder how they could possibly be effective.
In the first episode, the Inuits are central. In the second, they have vanished altogether, in spite of the fact that much of the action takes place in Canada. Were they cut out for reasons of environment?
There was some decent music. Direction was slow. The storyline a mess. The characters cardboard cutouts. The issues were so vulgarized as to become meaningless. In short, a waste of time and money.
A real shame it started to well on the first episode , but became a
farce on the second. Most of the facts seem correct, but the over
dramatisation ,poor acting and the just the plot lines which never meet
, make it near impossible to watch with out thinking 'what's happening
now ' . The 'lack' of quality acting shows through in the second
episode. It's seems the production was rushed and many scenes are
cobbled together with out thought of keeping the story line on track ,
also the ending turns in to a party political broadcast rather than a
ending with any real completion .
I think the BBC and Canadian global network ,could have done a better Job of this . Drama is meant to be drama , this is not in my opinion .
unless you have lot's of free time on your hand's , give it a miss.
How is it that in a world where David Simon can give us The Wire - and
in doing so fundamentally alter my perception about how the world
works, without EVER making me feel like I'm being preached to - the
world's biggest broadcaster can give us such a ham fisted, drama school
production? OK, so, let's be honest, with a few exceptions (cracker
remains one of the best dramas ever made) British drama is dire at the
best of times. But this? It turns out that oil is bad, don'tcha know?
Oh and the oil companies (and in fact all corporate entities) are only
interested in profits. And global warming is ... this'll shock ya ... a
bad thing ...
When Michael Moore makes a documentary he wears his heart on his sleeve, he admits, even embraces his bias. Al Gore made a little movie that had a point to make and made it by ... well ... telling it like he saw it.
The folks behind this 'drama' decided that they should create (in the broadest possible sense of the term) a work of fiction because, obviously, that would convince us where documentaries had failed.
Except I don't believe the drama, the dialogue is part exposition, part school text book, part ... well, mostly actually, poor. The characters are cardboard cuts outs with all the light and shade of a thing that has no light and shade at all, and the story? Let's just say it makes the da Vinci code look WELL written. (Can you believe it?) Bottom line, the first job of drama is to engage my emotion and my intellect with the story and the ... here's a shocker ... drama. Engage me and I might let ya preach a bit, I might not even notice until it's too late if you do it well and I'm invested in the story enough by the time your agenda becomes clear. But If all you're gonna do is preach to me, without character, humour or a real feel for real people then I'm just gonna get angry ...
So angry, I'm gonna write a polemic of my own even while the awful first part of your 'drama' plays in the background.
Now. Go watch The Wire, watch West Wing, watch Rescue Me ... Watch (and I know this is gonna be hard to believe but TRUST ME) Battlestar Galactica ... ALL of those shows have an agenda, all of them have an opinion, all of them want to challenge the way I look at the world.
None of them managed to actually make me want to go out and burn a barrel of oil just out of spite and in protest against your appalling, unwatchable 'drama'.
Post Script: Just forcing myself to watch Ep2 of the UK 2 Ep version. Like the Italian designer said when walking around a truly awful 1970's UK car ... "Unbelievable, it' the same THIS side."
Not sure I excepted anything more, but I hoped ...
Sadly, part two is just as awful as part one, only more so because it's another 90 minutes I'll never get back.
There's an old industry saw about 'messages' and Wells Fargo. I don't subscribe. At its best drama can contain insight and inspiration and can create the lever by which the world is moved.
Drama can do that. This drama did not.
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