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roland emmerich

Director Roland Emmerich doesn’t hide his disdain for our little blue planet, or maybe he just sees so many opportunities to kill millions in the most spectacular ways possible. What are the logical chances that the USS John F. Kennedy, pushed by a gigantic tsunami, hits the White House head on and destroys it? Certainly the shot in question is going for a bit of CGI nostalgia as the last time Emmerich destroyed the White House Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum destroyed an alien civilization with a Macintosh.

Years after the vastly disappointing Day After Tomorrow, Roland is back to distribute destruction spectacle like no other. Michael Bay must sit home at night wondering how he can get Emmerich to marry him, or at least return his phone calls. 2012 is based on the well known Mayan prediction that December 21, 2012 will results in the end of the world, in this film that equates to the Earth’s crust shifting, massive title waves, and a few hundred thousand being saved aboard arks the government has been constructing for three years.

While the story is as far fetched as they come, you really aren’t traveling to your local Cineplex for award winning dialog and a character piece bestowed with emotion, instead you want to see the world come to an end in the most awesome way possible. For the first 90 minutes, 2012 delivers everything you could possible ask for (and more), but when the script ends the world and starts to focus on the 2D characters we were forced to escape from a host of perilous situations the wheels come tumbling off.

Really we don’t care about failed author Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) or his ex-wife, or their kids, her new boyfriend. We don’t care about Oliver Platt’s power grab after the President (Danny Glover) bites the big one (that isn’t much of a spoiler; you see it coming like a 1,000 foot tidal wave). There just isn’t enough to get excited about, the “good” characters survive and the underlying theme of putting your well being aside to save the greater good was done hundreds of times better twenty five years ago in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

So you’ll be munching on popcorn for well over two hours, enjoying every minute of the collapse of modern civilization, you’ll be beaten over the head a few times with morals so blatantly obvious that anyone who doesn’t get it should be purged from the gene pool, and finally the film kind of ends with the remains of human civilization setting sail to start a new life, and give Emmerich new ideas on how he can have them perish into the bowels of the planet.

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.