It’s the end of the world and it looks just fine.
Let’s face it, the draw with Roland Emerich’s The Day After Tomorrow is destruction. He did it by blowing up the White House in Independence Day and he tried to do it again, this time New York, with that lizard he called Godzilla. There’s no place that’s safe from his wrath in The Day After Tomorrow, a cautionary tale about the onset of a new Ice Age.
Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a weather researcher whose official title is long and hard to pronounce. When he proclaims that Global Warming will lead to a massive freezing all over the planet sometime in the not too distant future the Vice President more or less laughs at him. Jack was thinking a few generations down the road, not within a few days of him conveniently making his claim public. Well it turns out we’re melting the ice caps faster than expected. A cooling of the ocean leads to a massive weather system that brings strange and deadly weather that blankets all of the northern hemisphere. Football-sized hail stones pelt down in the East, tornadoes level Los Angeles and the Atlantic floods New York. Then the ice sets in, freezing continents and killing millions. All to the glee of the film’s audience – at least this viewer.
There are some films that are plot proof. No matter how bad the story, it’s still appealing. The Day After Tomorrow is one such movie. My expectations heading in were to see mass architectural destruction and that’s exactly what I got. The image of a frozen Statue of Liberty is the most memorable shot of Lady Liberty since Planet of the Apes. Watching a catastrophe unfold on the big screen in the comfort of stadium seating while sipping on a Coke is safe. There’s no danger in watching it so there’s something thrilling about experiencing it, even if it is mostly all digital in the first place.
The Day After Tomorrow goes to great lengths to provide details that make the destruction that much more devastating. One such shot is an aerial view in which cars are swept through the streets from rising waves in downtown New York. They bounce around corners and pile up. In such a big shot, details such as this could have been ignored and likely gone unnoticed. Instead it makes the chaos that much more deadly and the simulation that much more real.
While I went in not expecting much from the plot, what I got was decent enough. It made sense even when Jack was talking to conference audiences of like minds. Him trekking to New York on foot to meet up with his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) was a little much, but the characters are made quite strong through their desperate and noble motivations.
There’s also a blatant but important message shoved in here. The Day After Tomorrow is a very real possibility should industry continue to pollute as it does. It does stress that we’re not living in a Dickens world where Scrooge might not be able to change the future. We’re at a critical point but not a crisis point. There is hope if we change our ways. If we don’t, well the comfort of the stadium seating and sipping a Coke might one day disappear and The Day After Tomorrow will become something very real.
The Day After Tomorrow Gallery
The Day After Tomorrow Trailer