Skip to main content

Review: H2Oil

H2Oil is a polemic against the excesses of the Tarsands developments in Northern Alberta. The Tarsands, responsible for the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions in North America produce synthetic oil in what is described as a two-stage process. First, the oil sand, or bitumen, is washed. After this is completed, the bitumen is heated (cracked) using natural gas. The film focuses on the negative effects of the first step.

A large amount of water is used to wash the bitumen. After being used for this, the water is contaminated, and it is not safe to release the water into the water system. The contaminated water is stored in tailings ponds; these ponds use earthen dams which are prone to leak. The leaking contaminated water contains high levels of heavy metals and other carcinogens, and is suspected to be causing high cancer rates among many First Nations people living along the Athabasca River watershed.

The Tarsands are the most environmentally damaging mega-project in the history of the human race. The film tells us as much, but its focus on the poisoned water issue, particularly in relation to two entrepreneurs who bottle spring water. This softens what should be the central message of the film. I learned after the screening that the film maker is actually friends with the water bottlers, and they were the inspiration for the film. Even if this were the case, they should have been left out. A film about the damages to society from industrial externalities shouldn't focus on members of another industry which also has negative external costs for society. It's hypocritical.

The subject matter is like an overripe plum, bursting with political corruption and lies. It's a shame that the film doesn't rise to the challenge of exposing the whole truth. Anyone interested in seeing a well-crafted documentary about the devastating effects of an engineering mega-project would be better off watching Manufactured Landscapes.

Popular posts from this blog

The Dream Is Real

For my money there is nothing cooler than the idea of a city folding in on itself.

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Ant-man Finally Casted?

It looks like Nathan Fillion might be playing a superhero afterall. After being considered for roles in Green Lantern, and Captain America,Fillion (most remembered as Malcolm Reynolds in the cult-hit Firefly) is reportedly in final negotiations to play Dr. Hank Pym in the new Avengers film. It hasn't been stated whether Pym would be Ant-man in the film, or just a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist, but we're holding out hope.

The Avengers hits theatres in 2012.