The Day After Tomorrow
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Roland Emmerich
scr Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
with Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dash Mihok, Emmy Rossum, Jay O Sanders, Sela Ward, Austin Nichols, Ian Holm, Adrian Lester, Kenneth Welsh, Perry King, Mimi Kuzyk
release US/UK 28.May.04
04/US 2h04

Water's rising! Gyllenhaal to the rescue.

quaid mihok shadows
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A nagging, disappointing familiarity torments us throughout this apocalyptic disaster movie. And the problem isn't that this is a bad film, but that it reminds us of far better ones. And it proves that corny premises do not need to have appallingly lame dialog and subplots.

Jack Hall (Quaid) is a climatologist who's right about global warming ... except that it's happening right now instead of a century in the future. The world is in the grip of crazily destructive weather, the President and Vice-President (King and Welsh) won't do anything, and Jack's ex-wife (Ward) is worried that their son Sam (Gyllenhaal) is trapped in Manhattan, which of course he is. So Jack gets all heroic and heads to New York with his colleagues (Mihok and Sanders), while Sam and a huddled mass of survivors tries to stay alive as the new ice age dawns.

It's all terribly exciting, and Emmerich clearly loves trashing New York and L.A. on screen (he's done it before). There's enough outrageous end-of-the-world stuff to keep us entertained, and the cast give it everything they've got. Sadly, they get no help from Emmerich, since the script abandons all of them when they need it most; the characters are paper thin, the plotting is lazy and the dialog is painfully earnest. The only joy in watching this film is in the over-the-top disaster effects and a series of extremely witty sight gags.

Otherwise, this was done more profoundly in Deep Impact and with more wit in The Core. Not to mention obvious references to Titanic and AI, plus a general lack of logic (if trapped in a freezing library, which would keep you warmer: burning the books ... or the wooden chairs?). And why do we never see anything outside North America, besides two guys (Lester and Holm) huddled in their Scottish weather station? There are a couple of contrived romantic subplots, a one too many sermons and way more digital sequences that were required. Some of the catastrophes are impressive, but others (like the wolves at the zoo) are just pointless. The whole film feels stingy and vacuous. And it's only barely trashy enough to be fun.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 11.May.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Day After Tomorrow The Day After Tomorrow Laurie T, Minneapolis: "Another disaster movie - hmmm. But okay, I wanted to see the sci-fi scenes. In the process I learned a new word, paleoclimatologist, which I figured out was someone who studied ancient weather, like in dinosaur times. I will say this movie was not nearly as bad as I feared, and I also learned how the air can get super cold, freezing live animals in their spots, so it was somewhat educational. And I did end up liking it - it did make some valid points about protecting the environment, but not with too heavy a hand. It was entertaining and educational! What's not to like about a movie that entertains you and teaches you? It really is kinda worth seeing. I was surprised." (1.Jun.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall