Revenge of the Electric Car

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revenge of the electric carNot so long ago, thousands of new electric cars were destroyed by the same car companies that built them. It was strange to watch as General Motors discontinued the EV1, an all-electric automotive car that people like Danny DeVito were raving about. Listening to him describe how it felt driving it, reminded me of when I saw Oprah Winfrey talk about the first time she test drove a Rolls-Royce. I remember her saying it felt like she was floating above the roads.

The cars were apparently unprofitable, or perhaps unsafe (it’s never really made clear why); they were reclaimed and crushed. It was an interesting scene.

Director Chris Paine previously did the documenteary Who Killed the Electric Car? I’m not so sure that just because the electric car is back with a vengeance, it warranted another film. It is strange that people like Bob Lutz, the big guy behind GM who was the bad guy in the first movie, appears in this like a hero. His motivation is making money, pure and simple (in my best Seinfeld voice: Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Carlos Ghosn, the head of Renaault/Nissan, is the guy behind the Nissan Leaf. His segments weren’t that interesting.

Elon Musk, an entrepreneur who created a nice looking car (Tesla), is sure spending a lot of his own money on a sports car that’s going to cost $100,000. I would’ve preferred seeing an entire movie about him. He was one of those young computer geniuses that created software and made millions before he was 21 (he also created PayPal). He’s worth well over $800 million, and is dumping a fortune into making his electric car (they say his snazzy roadster drives well…so if you have $100,000, look into it).

Greg Abbott has a somewhat interesting segment in the movie. He buys cars and puts electric motors in them. We see an older Porsche Spyder and MG that he’s working on, and watch as he seems to have disaster after disaster.

I was surprised when Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis spoke. I was sure he’d talk about the car he had Abbott create for him. I remember years ago, seeing Kiedis on cable talking about the old muscle car he had done that with.

The few celebrities that speak don’t really add a lot. Filmmaker Jon Favreau talks about the character John Starks in Iron Man being based on Musk.

Tim Robbins narrated the movie. I supposed it’s a nice change of pace that his partner in The Shawshank Redemption took a break from narrating and gave this one to him.

I suppose some might find it interesting that Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of these various car companies. To me, it makes the piece come off as some kind of infomercial.

We probably all agree that it would be beneficial to have cars that don’t use a single drop of foreign oil, and are fast, clean, and good for the environment. I’m guessing this movie won’t change any minds on the topic.

This movie could’ve easily had 45 minutes shaved off it and been a lot more interesting than coming across like yesterdays news.

And as a fan of documentaries, I have to say – there are lots of things that bug me in them, too. I complained about Morgan Spurlock using In the Hall of the Mountain King in his last one. This documentary starts off using that classical piece.

The beginning also has the filmmaker in line at an In-and-Out Burgers, commenting on how cool the Porsche in front of him is. We quickly see an edit to all the cars on the freeway. It often came across sloppy, as if it was a student film on the subject. It seems the point could’ve been more clearly made, and a lot more interesting, to film the various vehicles at a car show. Give us a history of the automobile, showing us classic cars that we all drool over, while talking about our love affair with the gas guzzling machines.

I’m giving this 2 stars out of 5.

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