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The Atomic States of America (2012)

A documentary on growing up in Shirley, Long Island -- a nuclear-reactor community.

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In 2010, the United States announced the first new nuclear power plant construction in over 32 years. The 'Nuclear Renaissance' was born, and America's long-stalled expansion of nuclear energy was infused with new life. On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan and caused chaos at the Fukushima Power Plant. That accident sent ripples all the way to the US and suddenly the fierce debate over the safety and viability of nuclear power was back in the public consciousness. Our documentary takes the viewer on a journey to reactor communities around the country. This film exposes the truths and myths of nuclear power, and poses the question of whether or not man can responsibly split the atom. Written by Anonymous

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25 March 2014 (Netherlands)  »

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Disappointing Film
14 March 2014 | by (North Carolina) – See all my reviews

On Netflix, the description of this movie suggests that it will reveal both the good and the bad of nuclear energy. It does precisely none of that.

I very seldom watch a movie that I would want to give a one star review all the way through. This film is no exception, but not for lack of trying. With fictional movies, I can see no reason to subject myself to them if they are truly awful. In this case, though, I thought that the topic of the movie was too important. Maybe there would be something interesting. Something useful.

There were some good points, but all in all, they weren't enough to salvage the movie. Problems exist with nuclear power (the dangers of weapons proliferation not being the least of them, although it largely went unmentioned in this film), but talking only to anti-nuclear crusaders creates a movie with the same level of objectivity as a "climatologist" paid by an oil company. Knowledge of how, exactly, radiation (or biology) works seemed abysmally low at some points. No, alpha-particles don't lodge in your tissue and emit waves of death. This might be a valid simplification of an alpha-particle emitter, but the danger of it being taken literally is very real. No, one mutation won't cause cancer. It takes two at a minimum (one to a gene regulating cell reproduction, and another to a gene that kills the cell through apoptosis if its DNA is damaged), and then the cancerous cell has to get "lucky" and not be killed by your body before it has a chance to duplicate.

Serious discussion about nuclear power is important. There are issues, and there are benefits. This movie just isn't the place to find that serious discussion.


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