Planet of the Humans
By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bleak docu dispels clean energy beliefs; disturbing images.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Reverses what was believed to be a positive approach to climate change, leaving viewers with a sense of hopelessness. But it also has themes of curiosity and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
The filmmakers allow their curiosity, intelligence, and study of science to guide them toward probing authority to get real answers, even when it means shattering their own world views.
Violence & Scariness
The film is about a major threat to human existence and is therefore quite bleak. Scenes of nature blowing up. Disturbing shot of a cow and horse thrown into an enormous grinder (unclear whether they're alive or dead going in). Orangutans shown in serious distress after their habitat is destroyed.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"F--k" is used twice.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Planet of the Humans is a critical examination of the green energy movement. It's directed by environmental journalist/activist Jeff Gibbs, who co-produced Fahrenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine. It's surprising that this documentary is executive-produced by Michael Moore, since it upends and even vilifies the liberal heroes of clean energy efforts, essentially taking viewers step by step through the argument that green energy doesn't really work. While curiosity and perseverance are clear themes, the ultimate (and awfully bleak) message is that it's too late to undo climate change and that effective solutions will take centuries to put into place. The film is here to smack us into reality -- and hopefully, the next generation will be open to that wake-up call. Expect to see some unsettling images involving animals toward the end, including a cow and a horse being thrown into a machine to grind them up. "F--k" is used a couple of times. Note: Controversy after the film's release ultimately led to four seconds of footage being removed. This review was written before that change was made.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Planet of the Humans
Based on 2 parent reviews
Grossly outdated (and misleading) information about wind and solar energy but an important statement about overpopulation
Report this review
Report this review
What's the Story?
In PLANET OF THE HUMANS, environmentalist Jeff Gibbs takes a critical look at green energy: the path that's being aggressively touted to help reverse climate change. He reveals how well-intentioned leaders have taken us down the wrong path. The result? According to the film, clean energy has created an even dirtier environment, and the real solutions haven't even been part of the conversation.
Is It Any Good?
Jeff Gibbs is here to tell you that your life is a lie -- and if this bleak documentary didn't have Michael Moore's name on it, you might not believe it. According to Planet of the Humans, the green, clean energy we've been chasing for years doesn't really exist. In some cases, the film says, it's worse than coal or natural gas. As executive producer/distributor, Moore's involvement lends the information in the film credence -- he's as liberal as it gets -- and Gibbs often writes on pressing ecological issues for environmental publications. So when these two cast aspersions on the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and climate change saint Al Gore, it's jarring -- can no one be trusted? If An Inconvenient Truth was a wake-up, Planet of the Humans is a shake-up.
While liberals will need to watch the film with their most critical and independent thinking hats on, it certainly doesn't give conservatives a free pass (Gibbs isn't suggesting that we toss up our hands and turn up the fracking). It turns out that the real solutions are going to be much tougher to implement, and getting a very late start on them could put us in the "it's too late" space. This film isn't about the light at the end of the tunnel; it's more like the light of the train coming at us: It shows us, step by step, how we're doomed. It argues that the leaders who've spent countless hours trying to reverse climate change were actually barking up the wrong tree (especially when they started removing the trees to solve the problem, aka "biomass energy"). What feels particularly unpleasant is the finger pointing at those whose hearts were likely in the right place, even if their efforts were misguided. Gibbs also uses some (Moore inspired?) manipulations: Footage shows him ambushing some of his targets at an event while viewers see disturbing images with a tenuous connection to the issue in order to get a strong emotional response. Frankly, the biggest detriment to getting this essential message out is that Gibbs falls short as a narrator. Removing the charismatic but polarizing Moore from the film might allow PIanet of the Humans to be better/more widely received, but Gibbs' passion for his subject matter is muted by his not-expressive-enough voice. Here's hoping that his delivery doesn't lead to young adults checking out.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the causes of climate change. Why is it happening? What role can and does the media play in helping make people aware of it?
Documentaries are often intended to convince viewers to join the filmmaker's point of view -- i.e., they have a bias. Is that OK? How does director Gibbs make his point in Planet of the Humans? Does he convince you of his thesis?
How do Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner demonstrate curiosity and perseverance? Why are these character strengths essential?
How does this documentary compare to others you've seen covering similar material?
- In theaters: April 21, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2020
- Cast: Jeff Gibbs, Ozzie Zehner, Bill McKibben
- Director: Jeff Gibbs
- Studio: Rumble Media
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, Science and Nature
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Perseverance
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Movies That Teach Kids About Climate Change
Movies That Inspire Kids to Change the World
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate