FilmReview

Review: Paul Lazarus Strikes Success Between the Eyes with ‘Slingshot’

Sam Rivman ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Dean Kamen addresses the students taking part in the FIRST Robotics  Championship, a program he founded 23 years ago. Photo Credit: MoonAvenue LLC.
Dean Kamen addresses the students taking part in the FIRST Robotics
Championship, a program he founded 23 years ago. Photo Credit: Moon Avenue LLC.

Slingshot is a feature documentary by Paul Lazarus, which follows the story of Dean Kamen, the genius inventor of the Segway, as he tries to fix the world’s water crisis. The film follows Dean all the way from his R&D center, to Coca Cola headquarters and all the way to Africa as he works on his Slingshot device to purify water. While a bit long winded, the documentary is inspiring, educational, and gives insight into a big problem often ignored. Lazarus devoted around seven years of his life to producing Slingshot, and his effort shows in the final product.

Documentaries are often associated with a bad reputation to put audiences to sleep. Slingshot, to the contrary, is actually exciting to watch unfold, as the subject matter is captivating. Kamen is not well known by much of the general public, but he is in fact the equivalent of a modern day Thomas Edison. Not only is he a brilliant inventor but he’s outgoing and well spoken, making him interesting to watch onscreen. His machine to purify any contaminated water is incredible, and Lazarus makes a point to even show Bill Clinton endorsing Kamen and his invention, which is a great tactic to draw the attention of the audience to the true grandeur of what Kamen is trying to accomplish.

Dean Kamen rides a Segway at his home in New Hampshire. Photo Credit: MoonAvenue LLC.
Dean Kamen rides a Segway at his home in New Hampshire. Photo Credit: Moon Avenue LLC.

Slingshot runs very smoothly from start to finish. However, despite the intriguing progression of Kamen’s life and his invention, shaving about twenty minutes to half an hour from the film would have made it more succinct. The major intriguing points were often repeated throughout the film, which felt extraneous in design. There is also extended mention of Kamen’s other endeavors, which, while interesting, didn’t have much to do with his Slingshot project, and therefore had no place in the documentary.

Length issues aside, Slingshot still contains a powerful message regarding just how important potable water actually is. Lazarus not only struck gold in the untapped documentary potential of Kamen, he also figured out a way to help him by conveying the importance of the Slingshot invention through the media. Documentaries generally are considered successful if they are able to both entertain and educate on a topic, and Slingshot achieves both. Just as Dean Kamen may be the world’s only hope for a solution to the water crisis, Paul Lazarus may be the world’s only hope for interesting documentaries.

Overall Grade: B

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