Film Reviews

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

By • May 24th, 2004 •

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MPAA rating PG-13 / Running time: 124 minutes

QUOTE: God levels Mankind’s playing field but the audience kept laughing.

First let’s review: In the real world there are no flying chick vampires (VAN HELSING), no weight-lifting demons (HELLBOY), no kiddie wizards (HARRY POTTER), no SPIDER-MAN, no alien invasion (INDEPENDENCE DAY), no WMD’s, and no imminent catastrophic New Ice Age looming over planet Earth. Are there really people who believe this movie is based on fact?

But, if there was, and I’m willing to be entertained with massive global suffering and mayhem regardless of the junk science behind it, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW does a great job with a computer visualizing the devastation that would come.

A movie needs a dramatic story, a villain, and characters we care about. DAT has none of these ingredients.

With so much attention to tornadoes, blizzards and tidal waves, everyone forgot to write a script. The story, the dialogue, and the acting are so terrible that I was cheering for the cleansing of the planet. I wanted everyone, even those with one line of dialogue, to be swallowed up by a tidal wave.

I was astonished how many truly stupid people found their way into New York City’s 42nd Street Library. One man actually thought that the library had the only copy of Nietzsche’s book sitting right there on the shelf! He then clings to Gutenberg’s Bible as if it’s the sole copy on Earth. (Bragging rights go to The British Library which has two complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible, one printed on paper and one on vellum. Apart from these two copies, there are 46 other complete copies of the Bible or substantial fragments worldwide. Six of these are in the United Kingdom. New York’s Public Library wasn’t listed.)

Nobody takes advantage of the catastrophe coming to the U.S. and the world. Neither Los Angeles or NYC suffer from looting or mass hysteria.

Would you willingly keep your boss company on a 90-mile walk in a horrific blizzard when you know even sticking your head outside could mean sudden death due to hypothermia?

Climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) has been an absentee father to 17-year old Sam (too old for the part Jake Gyllenhaal) and a lousy husband to his equally busy physician wife Lucy (Sela Ward). No one will listen to Hall as he foresees a major climate change that will destroy the U.S. Even after major devastation in Los Angeles, the Vice-President of the U.S. and others in high command fail to heed his call for a mass evacuation. The President (Perry King) is so clueless that he is the last to be sent to an underground secret location.

Lucky for us in Nevada, Mexico is considered a safe haven.

And then there is dour Professor Rapson (Ian Holm), a friend of Hall’s stationed in a remote outpost in Scotland. Yep, it’s coming, he says. He is as sour and resigned as everyone else on the planet.

As always happens in movies, Sam goes to New York City with two classmates immediately after Hall’s predictions turns L.A. into rubble. New York City is next. Hall decides that his brilliant son needs to be rescued and ends up walking from D.C. to New York with his two assistants, Jason (Dash Mihok) and Frank (Jay O. Sanders). This is so far-fetched and idiotic that the audience kept laughing. Meanwhile, Dr. Hall has only one critically ill cancer patient. Dr. Hall’s patient is – how manipulative is this? – a young boy whose parents are busy someplace. When the hospital is evacuated, Dr. Hall decides to stay alone with her patient.

In a phone call, Jack and Lucy suddenly find out that they love each other.

Back at the library, the absurd hilarity continues. Sam nearly drowns making a phone call to Jack and, when told to stay inside, becomes the group’s leader. When his classmate becomes sick, the story really gets silly. With his two friends, he goes outside. I will not ruin the fun by telling you what happens next. I was told if you sit through this you’ll burn off ten minutes of Hell Time.

I came away from Roland Emmerich’s DAT thinking could it be really possible, that people are passive cows and the instinct to survive has been twiddled out of our DNA? If so, then so be it.

The grand-scale effects are stunning and quite nasty. DAT is the ultimate destruction movie, but next time how about spending a few dollars from the big budget on a compelling story of man’s survival?


Credits:
Director: Roland Emmerich
Screenwriters: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Story: Roland Emmerich
Producers: Mark Gordon, Roland Emmerich
Executive producers: Stephanie Germain, Ute Emmerich, Kelly Van Horn
Director of photography: Ueli Steiger
Production designer: Barry Chusid
Editor: David Brenner
Costume designer: Renee April
Visual effects supervisor: Karen Goulekas
Music: Harald Kloser
Casting: April Webster

Cast:
Professor Jack Hall: Dennis Quaid
Sam Hall: Jake Gyllenhaal
Terry Rapson: Ian Holm
Laura Chapman: Emmy Rossum
Dr. Lucy Hall: Sela Ward
Jason Evans: Dash Mihok
Frank Harris: Jay O. Sanders
Vice President Becker: Kenneth Welsh

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