Day After Tomorrow

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok
Director: Roland Emmerich

The 1970’s saw the great wave of Hollywood apocalyptic thrillers such as THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (water, tidal wave, destruction), THE TOWERING INFERNO (fire, sky, destruction) and EARTHQUAKE (land, fissures, destruction), wreak havoc at the box office and enable studios to wheel out all star casts as if there was no tomorrow.

Now in the early part of the 21st century, we have THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW which mixes all of the above together, bar the studio’s major stars. The stars of this movie are the special effects. No performance comes close to topping the incredible spectacles on show here. Actors are only the trees on the hillside ready to be felled by the avalanche of amazing breathtaking destruction. At the centre of the story (?) is a climatologist (a scientist who studies the ways past climate patterns have changed), Professor Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid – a strange but not undeserved pop at the leading role in a Hollywood spectacular). He tries to save the world from the effects of global warming which trigger a catastrophic climate change, while also trying to reach his son, Sam (Gyllenhaal of DONNY DARKO fame), who’s in New York City (not again) as the city is overwhelmed by the chilling beginnings of a new ice age. With tidal waves not seen since producer George Pal wrecked a similar fate on the city in 1951 with his film WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, humanity must race south to warmer climes in order to save its future and not to follow the path of the dinosaurs, victims themselves from a shift in the Earth’s climate. Will they make it?

The first 30 minutes of this film are truly spectacular and this film has easily the best special effects (bar the groundbreaking T2 aka TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY) in recent movie history. The problem is that the human side of the disaster pales as the acting cannot match the effects and becomes laughable, which is the last thing it should be and is all down to the dialogue. Any real fear we had soon dissipates as the corny dialogue replaces the drawing of breath in disbelief to the belly laughs for the same reason – disbelief. Why does this movie turn into a comedy a third of the way through? The events are horrific but not as bad as some of the dialogue. When faced with a trek to New York across the ice Quaid turns and delivers one of the great bad lines in recent film dialogue, “check it out it’s a real ice breaker!”

This is not to say that the movie is not worth going to see. It is. It is truly spectacular and well worth a visit. You’ll gasp at the dialogue and wonder why man suffered through the original ice age as the latest natural ice age disaster just seems to last a weekend. Just stay in and wrap up warm if you want to save mankind it seems to say, which is a bit too daft. This would have been incredible if it had just taken off the first two letters of that word and simply been credible. A real chance missed but another classic disaster movie to add to the collection.

I also think that Fox, the distributor, see the Statue of Liberty as a good luck charm after its use in one of their great films released on DVD now, PLANET OF THE APES, the original of course!

Dr Kuma’s verdict: Spectacular, but you’ll have forgotten most of the scenes that don’t involve cities being trashed the day after tomorrow.

4 out of 6 stars