Written by Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 2:04
for intense situations of peril.
The Day After Tomorrow was pretty much what you'd expect from a disaster film. There was a lot of mayhem, cheesy characters and good special effects.
Global warming is going to cause a new ice age. So says Jack Hall, some kind of paleoclimatologist who studied the past and looks into the future. But the ice age doesn't start thousands or even hundreds of years from now. It starts... the day after tomorrow! First Los Angeles is hit with massive tornadoes, then New York is flooded and covered in snow. Anyone caught outside will freeze to death. The entire upper half of the U.S. is doomed, while the lower half can possibly be evacuated. And Jack Hall, in Washington D.C. decides he needs to go to New York and save his son, even if he has to walk there.
So the entire global warming plot is interesting. But since I don't know the science behind it, I don't know how accurate the movie was. From a lay person point of view however, the idea that a sheet of ice can suddenly overtake the entire Northern Hemisphere in a matter of days seems highly improbable. And even if you assumed that it could, the idea that it would start without any notice seems just as improbable. What also seemed highly unlikely was the idea that someone could walk in sub-freezing weather from Philadelphia to New York in a few days. Then there were the times when everyone would walk around in the sub-freezing weather without gloves on and their hands never froze. But, this being a movie, I suppose you can try and overlook all of that.
Let's start with... the special effects. I have to hand it to Roland Emmerich, the man knows how to direct disaster. After watching numerous specials on Independence Day, it's hard not to notice that a lot of the stuff are models/miniatures, but still, it's done fairly well. Tornado destruction isn't anything new, but the flood and freeze stuff was interesting. The fact that once again it's New York City that's getting destroyed was kind of annoying, but I suppose when you have as many iconic structures as New York has, you're bound to be fodder for destruction. The CGI wolves looked pretty bad in my opinion, realizing that all of this is my opinion of course, but the rest of the effects I enjoyed. Surprisingly though, I felt there wasn't enough action. It started off strong, slowed down a lot, picked up again with the flood, slowed down a lot, then picked up again with the freeze. But all in all, not nearly as much action as I expected.
I really liked Jake Gyllenhaal's character. He had this sort of amused detachment from everything. Most people in these films are either scared of everything, or gung-ho hero types. He was on the side of the hero, but he never got full of himself. And having a scene where no one listened to him was a good idea. Made him more tragic. Emmy Rossum as the love interest was nice, because, well, she's pretty attractive. She didn't have much else to do, but just being there was nice. Dennis Quaid played the typical, I must save my child, guy fairly well. Yes, him walking to New York was a bit much, but you have to admire the effort. Sela Ward's character was fairly pointless, and the storyline with her and the child patient didn't serve any purpose.
There was some good humor in the film, and I don't mean the ice cream, although that would have worked well in this movie. The President was shown as being someone who needs to rely on other people for his opinion, and the Vice-President was the one with all the power. That was good for a few laughs. And this being the kind of film it was, the dialogue lent itself to a lot of humor, just from the cheese factor alone.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, The Day After Tomorrow was a so-so summer special effects disaster film. Not nearly enough action for my liking, but I did enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal. So take that for what you will.