Review: The Day After Tomorrow

From a Roland Emmerich film you can expect three things, unrelenting peril, awesome special effects, and laughably bad dialog. With The Day After Tomorrow you get all three of these things, pumped up on steroids, and busting through the closest wall, unfortunately the shock and awe of the special effects aren’t enough to outweigh the implausible story elements.

The Day After Tomorrow enlightens us to the fact that global warming is destroying the planet and from the film’s very first scene we know that this will be constantly brought up, like a bad public service announcement on how not carpooling or methane emissions from cows are destroying our planet. Unfortunately we didn’t need a two hour film to tell us this fact by the shear number of complete a-holes trolling around in SUVs and thinking they are mightier than thou. I digress. Tomorrow shows us the effects of another ice age encapsulating our planet and making life difficult to survive in sub artic temperatures.

Tomorrow focuses on Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), a paleo-climatologist, who believes that the polar ice caps will melt and will cause tragic events on the weather of the planet. The Vice President doesn’t believe him (how surprising), and his own theories don’t foresee anything happening for another 100 years. But after it begins snowing in tropical regions and tornados tear apart Los Angeles, people finally start thinking he might be right. Like Independence Day before it, Tomorrow features the calm, collected scientist solving a problem with the help form his assists and ultimately saving the world. Jack, however, sets out on a daring journey to the recently flooded and frozen New York City to rescue his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal).

The main problems with Tomorrow are the increasingly ludicrous plot points that Emmerich throws at us. Things start out with the “super-storms” that are crossing the globe, freezing everything in their path in a matter of seconds. By far, these storms have to be the lamest antagonists this side of “the website” in feardotcom. Still, as if freezing storms weren’t enough, we also have to deal with a boy who has cancer and can’t be moved without an ambulance, a girl who gets a blood infection, and, most ridiculous point of all, hungry wolves. The story tries to be much more serious than it should, and with the aforementioned wolves and their subsequent attack on the survivors in New York, you know that Emmerich was really stretching to find something to pad the script after the destruction of New York and LA only took 15 minutes of film to accomplish.

The shining moment of the film, and most likely one of the funniest bits in cinema all year (intentional or not) is the newscast about illegal immigration of US citizens to Mexico. While people in any state except Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California may not laugh, those who have to deal with the situation find it extremely funny.

The Day After Tomorrow isn’t all bad though, if anything it presents some of the most beautiful and jaw-dropping special effects not seen since the conclusion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The sight of massive tornados ripping apart the greater LA area or a wall of water slamming into New York City will leave you speechless. In fact, if the film was just 90 minutes of natural disasters it might be more entertaining than inane plot point after plot point.

For fans of the director and massive-end-of-the-world films, The Day After Tomorrow may please you enough to hold out for the next big thing. For those of us expecting something to go along with the digital imagery, you will be sorely disappointed in the unintentionally funny story that really stretches the bounds of believability. Scientists may call the movie’s premise bad science, and artists may call the effects beautiful, but as a film summed up to a whole, The Day After Tomorrow is a wall of water that doesn’t leave you very wet at all.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!