It's interesting that such good (if not top of the charts) actors like Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward and Ian Holm can't even make this a better movie. Quaid plays that clich¨¦ scientist who could save the world if only people would listen him. He's been a prophet of apocalypse based on Global Warming trends, and this has made him funnier than Richard Pryor to the political and economic world at large. Naturally we find out in deadly earnest that he was right the whole time, but his I-told-you-so is cut short by the end of the northern hemisphere. Good excuse, really!
According to Emmerich and co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff it breaks down like this: Global Warming interrupts the heat-distributive effects of the Atlantic Ocean Currents which, ironically, causes the world to react in violent storms, ushering in a new Ice Age. Amazingly, this doesn't happen in a hundred years, but in about a hundred hours! Yep, that fast. Thank you so much for making legitimate Global Warming concerns look Cartoonish.
What follows is more cartoonish than this though, as each scene gets increasingly more unrealistic and fantastic looking. The special effects here are beautiful and attractive to watch, but they don't have a serious plot to back them up. In fact, the SFX are indeed so spectacular that they look like they belong in a fantasy film. Sure, we don't know what the weather-induced end of the world would look like, but is it likely to look like Fantasia 2000? There's nothing wrong with this, really, but if you want a serious message to make it on to the screen, should Earth really look like the skies of Mordor from The Return of the King or Star Wars's Komino? Probably not.
And for all the big bucks thrown to the Computer Effects (there are so many SFX firms in the credits I lost count), the actual physical special effects sure seem pretty discount-bin cheap. That's not a good thing, Homer. Why? Well, take away the montage of special effects shots and the plot is this: Scientist searches desperately for son and finds him. That's it. There's not a whole lot to prop this film up besides.
I can say that for all the silliness that this film has hanging off of it, the acting is pretty decent, though why Holm slummed it here is a bit of a perplexer! For what Donnie Darko's Gyllenhaal is given he does a fantastic job. However, what he's usually given is the opportunity to react impossibly with wide eyes and an open mouth to a special effects shot to be added later. I imagine Emmerich's cast-directing duties probably resembled a director's job on TV's The Monkees. Quaid and Ward along with the Presidential team of Kenneth Welsh and Riptide's Perry King all seem to look consistently more crushed as each scene goes by. None of these guys are bad actors, but they're not given much material (by aaron pruitt). All told, both from a dialogue and story point of view there are one or two laugh out loud moments that were obviously intended to evoke dramatic tension. I'm more tense after an herbal massage, okay?
There are some boring parts (where the film crawls like a three-legged centipede) but for the most part Emmerich distracts the audience with explosions, tasteless destruction and sight gags enough to forget there's a bad plot to worry over. From that respect it can be interesting and fun, if you're just wanting a time-passer. Mostly, though, this is a showcase for the considerable computer animation talents of probably every industry SFX firm starting with ILM and working down. It's a treat for the eyes, if you can keep your eyes open until the credits roll after 124 minutes.
The ending itself seems to simply land where they felt they'd run out of steam. They give you a Moral-Of-The-Story (that sets the Green Peace movement back ten years) and some ridiculous hope for the future, but the fact isn't changed that the entire USA is Jack Frost Country now! The only ending that could have been more silly is a the-last-season-of-Dallas-was-a-dream ending!
The Day After Tomorrow is pretty, all right! Pretty Vacant! At Two and a half stars out of Five it could just as well wait for an HBO viewing rather than forking over your $8.75 at the Box Office. Still, since it made almost its whole budget back in the first weekend, it's clear what Audiences want, and it's clear this is what they're going to get next. Maybe old Dean Devlin might pop back up and pitch Emmerich a movie where New York doesn't get destroyed. And maybe I'm Tibetan Royalty. Look, folks, just because it's a disaster movie doesn't mean it has to be a disaster of a movie! Best vacation indeed! Hell!
If Emmerich is still working in a year, trust me, it IS the end of the world!
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