The Day After Tomorrow

Roland Emmerich

BY Cam LindsayPublished Oct 1, 2004

Roland Emmerich really enjoys putting the world through hell. If you look at his track record, all the evidence is clearly laid out — Godzilla, Stargate and Independence Day, not to mention casting Swiss cheese heads Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren together in Universal Soldier. The Day After Tomorrow confirms a few things about the German director: 1) that he is a sadist who loves to see the world in turmoil; 2) that he is a sadist who loves to make money off people paying to see the world in turmoil; and 3) he's nothing without his special effects. The Day After Tomorrow is simply just another disaster film made to convince audiences that one day we will all perish at the hands of something we can't prevent. Before it was an alien attack, then it was a big green lizard and now it's frost. When global warming finally hits its stride, climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) warns everybody that something's not right. Once twisters devour downtown L.A. people start listening, but of course it's too little too late. The world rapidly becomes a punching bag for bad weather and over the course of a few days it becomes a popsicle. Of course, in real life, if this happened we would all become snowmen and be wiped away, but Emmerich likes to toy with the idea that man could survive another Ice Age. Lining up tear-jerking tragedies (another climatologist sends away his wife and newborn baby) with teen romance, Emmerich definitely aimed at and hit a certain audience. Jake Gyllenhaal really dulls down his potential playing the heroic 17-year-old lead. Compared to his past work in films like Donnie Darko and The Good Girl, his work here is transparent and seemingly desperate. Emmerich's use of characters like a homeless guy with a dog and a young boy battling cancer seem a little too saturated in heartfelt goodness, seeing as they both survive this disaster but will ultimately suffer from their inevitable deaths. The only thing that prevents this film from hitting rock bottom is the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't reprise his role as Mr Freeze and battle it out with the indestructible character played by Quaid. Throughout the film people are shown dying from a breath of the freezing air, yet Quaid's character can walk across two states to keep his promise and save his son? The special effects are equally as implausible, as the whole film is basically shot with CGI. With this hi-technology in his hands, Emmerich even goes so far as using frost as a hunter, with his characters as the prey running away from it as it creeps in on them. The closing shot is the ultimate clincher, revealing a devastated New York while a solider in a helicopter yells, "I've never seen the air look so clean!" This leaves the viewer to ponder about just how much we could benefit from the world freezing over. As a DVD, the film is packaged nicely and features extras that manage to save the film. The commentary by Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon dissect the film and even mock the melodrama, with Gordon admitting, "There's no fucking way he could get that pick axe out in time," when Quaid falls off a cliff of ice. They even mimic parts of the script. The deleted scenes actually make for an interesting watch, giving you another look at certain parts of the story and revealing a couple of things in greater depth. Plus: interactive sound demo, more. (Fox)

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