Racing Extinction

Life wants to flourish. DNA wants to go forward. We need to be part of that.” — Eric Goode

It took life millions upon millions of years to flourish. It will take us way less than that to destroy it.

Racing Extinction talks about the influence of the human species on the climate change and the mass extinction of endangered species. It details the effects of overpopulation as well as factory farming and illegal wildlife trade. It makes a terrifying prediction that we’re heading towards the sixth mass extinction in this planet’s history, but that we can still prevent it if we act fast.

And there are many actions we can take to ensure the survival of the world as we know it. It all starts with being aware.

The movie focuses on the effects of the Asian illegal wildlife trade. The Oceanic Preservation Society tries to investigate why so many marine species are in danger of going extinct. They find that there are so many misbeliefs that stem from improper education about the importance of keeping the balance of life. Overfishing is a serious issue not only in Japan, but also in China, India and Indonesia, where overpopulation contributes to this problem.

Prepare to cry while watching this documentary. This is not propaganda. It’s our reality.

Directed by the Oscar-winning Louie Psihoyos, this movie takes risks in order to bring us to the core of the environmental issues it talks about. Illegal wildlife trade is the second only to the drug trade, and it’s just as dangerous. Using hidden cameras, it brings us into a world where profit and tradition pave the way towards our eventual doom. These shots are contrasted with the beautiful images of modern life as we know it, and as we want to preserve it.

In China, people believe that manta ray gills can cure serious illnesses, like cancer. This is a horrible, damaging lie. It gives the poorly educated people hope, while at the same time causing such a ripple effect in the environment. We see shots of manta rays just tossed on the ground while their gills are harvested to find their way into the traditional medicine shops. Shark fin soups are another example. These fishermen cut shark fins in order to sell them to restaurants to use them in dishes that are just a status symbol (not even tasty at all), and then leave the sharks to slowly and painfully die, unable to swim.

The preservation of marine life is not the only focus of this film. It shifts its focus on other environmentally important topics, while keeping us interested in expanding our knowledge and contributing what we can in order to save the world. Consumerism, pollution, acidification, poaching, destruction of natural habitats and careless abuse of plastic all threaten to topple us from our arrogant position as the only “intelligent” species.

This is maybe the only flaw of this movie. The topic it tackles is too wide for such quick jumps from one issue to another. If it focused on one, it would still have enough material for a full movie. At times, it might be a little too sentimental, but since its main focus is taking action, this isn’t such a bad thing.

While showing us what is currently happening to our planet, Racing Extinction also brings hope. We didn’t lose yet. It’s a race, and we can still make it to the finish line. The movie’s intention isn’t just to show what will happen if we don’t act, it grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you into taking responsibility and committing yourself to action.

IMDb 4.1 /5
4.1 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4 /5
4 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4 /5
4 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

4.03out of 5

Good
4.03 out of 5
Category Documentary

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