I’ve always had a special place in my heart for disaster movies. I don’t quite know why, but I think it has something to do with exploring the idea of “what would one do in a bad situation?” What I don’t like about disaster movies is that they’ve grown so terribly formulaic. Step 1. Establish a wide range of characters. Step 2. Introduce catastrophe. Step 3. Bring together those characters still alive. Step 4. Characters overcome disaster. I often wonder if there might not be a better formula.
The premise of the Day After Tomorrow has to do with the effects of global warming. For the purposes of a two-hour movie time limit, the consequences of our collective industrial actions were unrealistically compressed into a handful of days, rather than decades. This is, of course, assuming that you accept the premise that polar ice melts will cause super-duper-storms in the first place.
Whatever. It was enough to set the stage for disastrous special effects and a father-son adversity/reunion story. “Disastrous” in the sense of the effects showing disasters, naturally. “Naturally” as in natural disasters. Heh.
That’s where the movie shines. Don’t get me wrong, some of the characters are okay. Some aren’t (for instance, I never felt anything for Little Leukemia Boy, and I wanted more closure on the scientists in Scotland). But make no mistake, the disasters are the draw in this movie and most of them are pretty good. If you’ve seen the previews, you already know about the geographically strange tornadoes, the big flood, and the super-cold temperatures. I did, going in, but for some reason I thought there would be more variety to the natural disasters. Engaging my powers of 20/20 hindsight, I don’t know why that is, though. It’s not like global warming is going to result in volcanic eruptions or big earthquakes.
The best thing I can say about The Day After Tomorrow is that I was able to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in the story. I truly wanted to know what would happen next and – unlike Troy, for instance – I was never thinking about when the movie was going to end. And that’s probably a good thing, considering the moral with which they beat you over the head just before the closing credits. Up until the last couple minutes, it was a diverting summer film… and then, WHAP-WHAP! Watch out all you Republicans – Roland Emmerich has a message. Sigh.
Trivial Thought: Did you notice that all the wolves were completely computer generated? Interesting, that.
What did I find worthwhile about the movie? The special effects, of course. That and poking holes in the movie’s “science.”
Would I recommend the movie? If you like disaster movies, yes. If you’re a Republican, no.
Will I buy it on DVD? Probably, although it may come down to the special features list.
Overall Summer Movie Ranking
The Day After Tomorrow