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May 2004

By Julian Roman

The Day After Tomorrow
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Roland Emmerich
Producers: Roland Emmerich & Mark Gordon
Screenwriters: Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Cinematographer: Ueli Steiger & Anna Foerster
Composer: Harald Kloser
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Glenn Plummer, Jay O. Sanders, Tamlyn Tomita, & Kenneth Walsh


Independence Day director, Roland Emmerich, returns to true form with another effects laden disaster epic. This time it's global warming gone wild. Green Peace and environmental activists have been waiting for Hollywood to crank out a film like this. Humans have screwed up the environment with our SUV-driving, oil-guzzling ways, and now we're all going to die horrible deaths under Mother Nature's wrath. I'll liken the film to a large bucket of white popcorn, cheesy and buttery as hell, but ultimately satisfying in the end. The dialogue is absolutely terrible and the constant environmental propaganda becomes unbearable, but the film is fantastic eye-candy and delivers an awesome cinematic spectacle.

Emmerich's penchant for ensemble acting is back in full force. The story follows different groups of people as they deal with the tragedy. The primary star is Dennis Quaid as climatologist Jack Hall. Along with a scientist in Scotland, Dr. Rapson (Ian Holm), they deduce that a sudden temperature drop in the North Atlantic current will trigger disastrous global storms. The government ignores them until Los Angeles is destroyed by a series of massive tornadoes. The government calls Jack in for another meeting, but events are already set in motion. His son Sam, Jake Gyllenhaal, and some classmates are in New York City for a school tournament. They find themselves stuck in the city when a tidal wave floods the island. Jack and his team decide to go to New York to rescue the kids. They're in a race against time because a super storm is barreling into North America, freezing everything its path.

The Day After Tomorrow has to be enjoyed for what it is, a summer popcorn film. The science is cobbled together, but does anyone really expect a movie like this to be scientifically accurate? Of course not, it's called willing suspension of disbelief. I've already seen a host of "experts" decrying the film as science fiction. No kidding, its entertainment and people should consider it as such. Emmerich is an obvious environmentalist. This film is his message and a warning to those that callously pollute the environment. That's to be respected. Everyone has an opinion and at least Emmerich can provide his as entertainment.

The visual effects in the movie are awesome. They make the film work with a high degree of realism. This is the hallmark of Roland Emmerich and his production team. They always nail the effects and raise the bar with every film they do. The scenes of Los Angeles and New York being destroyed are incredibly to watch. You forgot the ghastly dialogue and are just floored by the enormity of what you're seeing. Some critics will say this film is nothing but effects. That's true, but the story is about what will happen to humanity if we keep destroying the environment. You have to see the consequences, so the effects are an integral part of the story.

The actors deserve credit for ably delivering the corny dialogue. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal are superb actors saying goofy lines throughout the film. They probably have endless reels of outtakes from everyone laughing. They take their roles seriously and it does wonders for the story. Less capable performers would have added to the schtick and made the film goofier than it already is.

The key to liking this movie is to go in the theatre expecting to be entertained. Don't think too much or you'll be disappointed. Get some snacks, plop down, and savor the spectacle for what it is, two hours of good old-fashioned summer mayhem. Then jump back in your V-8, ten-mile a gallon car; throw your unused plastic out the window, and go home to burn your garbage.