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The Independent Critic

Werner Boote, John Taylor, Peter Lieberzeit, Marques Brown, Othman Ilyassa
Werner Boote
95 Mins.
First Run Features


 "Plastic Planet" Review 
Director Werner Boote's grandfather was one of the early manufacturers of plastic, introducing young Werner at a young age to the "magic substance" that would change the world. In Plastic Planet, a 95-minute doc picked up for distribution by First Run Features and preparing for a limited arthouse run here in the U.S., Boote embarks on a global journey to discover the threat posed by plastic, traveling to fourteen countries and confronting manufacturers, scientists, government officials and consumers in ways that are both serious and entertaining.

Plastic Planet points out some basic facts that are likely known to most environmentalists.

For example, the amount of plastic we have produced since it was invented would be enough to cover the entire globe six times over.

Plastic stays in the ground and water system for up to 500 years, a fact frequently discussed by those who advocate ridding the world of bottled water.

Numerous studies have proven that the chemicals plastic releases (such as Bisphenol A) migrate into the human body and may contribute or cause grave health problems including allergies, obesity, infertility, cancer and heart disease.


As much as Boote was raised with an admiration of plastic, his zest for the truth is equally as energetic here as the feisty and occasionally irreverent documentarian literally journeys around the global from the Moroccan Sahara to the Pacific Ocean, China and even the highest peaks of the Alps. Along the way, Boote interviews the world's foremost experts in biology, pharmacology and genetics to shed light on the perils of plastic to our environment and how plastic impacts our bodies and will impact future generations.

Plastic Planet has been on the European film festival circuit since 2009, with stops at Germany's European Film Market, Poland's Warsaw Film Festival, Argentina's Mar del Plata Film Festival and Belgium's DOCVILLE International Documentary Film Festival among others. Recently picked up by U.S. based First Run Features, Plastic Planet begins a run at New York's Cinema Village on January 14, 2011.

While it would be easy to compare Boote's style to that of Michael Moore, a gentle yet fervent mix of fact and entertainment, Boote actually more closely resembles the doc stylings of An Inconvenient Truth/Waiting for Superman director Davis Guggenheim, whose ability to dissect an issue and dedication to communicating difficult concepts in layman's terms helped Al Gore take the issue of global warming to a wider audience. It's unlikely that Plastic Planet will gather any box-office steam to rival that of Guggenheim's films, let alone those of Moore, but the knowledgeable director is clearly trying to take what could be seen as a rather bland topic and make it accessible for a wider audience.

The gentle intertwining, however, of fact and entertainment isn't always successful here due to a narration that occasionally feels incredibly flat and doesn't quite match up to the energy and enthusiasm of Boote. The original score, as well, at times begins to feel a bit excessively relied upon to elicit an emotional response that's really unnecessary given Boote's enthusiasm.

If you enjoyed Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth, or at least appreciated it, then the odds are pretty strong you'll at least respect Boote's well researched and presented information on a topic that's of far more importance than most realize.  For more information on the American release of the film, visit First Run Features. The film's actual website is largely in Austrian and German, however, for those who speak the languages it is a wealth of relevant information.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic