DVD Review - Revenge of the Electric Car

Elon Musk (left) & Bob Lutz
in "Revenge of the Electric Car"
Unless you're Michael Apted, most documentary filmmakers don't make sequels to their movies, but Chris Paine, who directed Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006), did, and despite its title, it's less about the revenge of the automobiles without gas-engines, as it is about four men who are doing what they can not to let the idea of long-range passenger cars powered exclusively by batteries die.

On the DVD, we learn that this documentary premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. The bonus section of the disc contains a 35-minute compilation of a Q & A hosted by David Duchovny (The X-Files and Californication). It was during the Q & A that Chris Paine said that he wanted this movie to be less focused on the grander issues like environmentalism but instead he simply wanted to present character studies.

Paine accomplishes this with the four men whom he follows. The first, and perhaps star, is Elon Musk. Musk is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who developed the Tesla car. Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man, calls Musk the closest thing to Tony Stark that the real world will ever get.

The second man Paine follows is Bob Lutz. Lutz is an executive at General Motors. Lutz was involved in the making of the GM Volt, which is a car with an electric-only engine. Then, there's Greg Abbott, a car enthusiast who converts gas-engines in cars into electric-only engines, and finally there's Carlos Ghosn, the CEO at Nissan, a French businessman working in Tokyo. Ghosn is developing the Nissan Leaf, a competitor of the GM Volt.

All four of these men let us into their worlds and we stay in them, right by their sides even when things take a turn for the worst for all of them. Paine seemingly turned his cameras on them just prior to the 2008 financial crisis and stayed with them for what was probably the course of two years. For a couple of them, we see them at extreme lows, one man literally losing everything.

While it might get some people to consider these vehicle alternatives, most will simply be enthralled with the human drama of men who aspire and dream big, who are ambitious and put so much on the line for something in which they believe and teeter on the brink of success or ruin.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.


Popular Posts