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The Day After Tomorrow DVD Review

The Day After Tomorrow

March 31, 2005

Director: Roland Emmerich,
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward, Austin Nichols, Arjay Smith, Tamlyn Tomita, Sasha Roiz, Ian Holm, Nassim Sharara, Carl Alacchi, Kenneth Welsh, Michael A. Samah, ,

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DVD Review

Not since Armageddon (1998) has a film taken such a complete leave of its scientific senses. The Day After Tomorrow (2004) is Roland Emmerich’s latest cinematic ode to destruction movies. He’s already blown up the White House in Independence Day (1996) and stomped all over New York City in Godzilla (1998). What’s left? How about a modern ice age that engulfs the northern hemisphere all over the world?

Climatologist Jack Hall (Quaid) is conducting experiments in the Antarctica and almost buys it in a seismic event. He reports back to Washington, D.C. about an alarming increase in global warming, or abrupt climate shift, but, of course, none of the politicians give him the time of day. Before long grapefruit-sized hail pelts citizens in Japan. Not soon afterwards, four tornadoes wreak havoc in Los Angeles erasing the Hollywood sign. Finally, New York City is pummeled by the mother of all tsunamis. Jack’s relationship with his wife (Ward) and son, Sam (Gyllenhaal), is strained because he is away much of time with work. He and Sam are in some serious need of father-son bonding. Good thing an imminent ice age will bring them closer together. So, Jack suits up and decides to travel from D.C. to New York City where his son is trapped in the New York Public Library.

Nitpicking a brainless big budget film like this is a lesson in futility but there are some things that just take you right out of the movie because they are so glaringly obvious. First jump in logic: Jake Gyllenhaal is supposed to be a 17-year old high school student?! Too bad in real life he’s 24 years old. Maybe he’s following in the footsteps of Luke Perry in Beverly Hills 90210? Second jump in logic: the L.A. basin by nature is not realistically conducive to tornadoes because of its geography. But then the first warning sign should have been Perry King cast as the President of the United States. I guess Morgan Freeman or Bill Pullman were not available.

Admittedly, there are some impressive visuals on display here. The flooding of Manhattan is an eye-popping CGI-induced spectacle. Soon afterwards, Emmerich creates an eerie mood by having an abandoned Russian freighter float ominously down the streets of New York. However, after the CGI-created natural disasters subside, the film settles into a ploddingly predictable adventure film with the cast of talented actors doing the best they can with a weak script in dire need of script doctoring.

Special Features:

Director Roland Emmerich (who sounds uncannily like Arnold Schwarznegger) and producer Mark Gordon contribute an audio commentary on the disc. Gordon points out goofs and inconsistencies (just in case you didn’t spot them yourself) and makes the absurd assertion that Kenneth Welsh’s character looks like Dick Cheney. Both men speak proudly of the movie and talk endlessly about all of the money that was spent on the CGI, which says more about this movie than anything else.

Another audio commentary features co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, cinematographer Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner and production designer Barry Chusid. This is obviously a more technically oriented track as they talk about how certain special effects were achieved and how the look of the movie was conceived.

Finally, there are two deleted scenes. One fleshes out a business deal between a U.S. and Japanese businessman before the latter dies. There is also an alternate take with Jack and Jason (Mihok) after they survive the ice age.

There are also extras on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc but you need a computer with a DVD player to view them properly.

The Day After Tomorrow is a predictable mixed tape of Twister (1996), Deep Impact (1998) and The Perfect Storm (2000). If you can get past the gaping plot holes and jumps in logic then you might enjoy this throwback to disaster movies from a bygone era. While its message of global warming is timely, the obvious way it force feeds it to the audience is insulting to anyone with a shred of intelligence. It seems to suggest that the moral of its story is if you want to avoid a natural disaster, go to a library.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 60%

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