*** 1/2 / ****
Dir: Roland Emmerich
2004 Color English
Rated PG-13 for intense situations of peril.
Dr. Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) and friends Jason (Dash Mikok) and Frank (Jay O. Sanders) are hanging out in Antarctica drilling for ice core samples and generally teasing Jason about being the new guy. New Guy starts drilling for cores and wham-o big crack opens up and a huge chunk of ice breaks off from Antarctica setting in to motion the biggest climate change seen in 10,000 years. Thankfully, things don’t take as long as they used to and in just about a week, a new ice age is upon us. People look in amazement. People utter “My God…” L.A. gets destroyed (way better than in 10.5). Tokyo gets shellacked by 10 pound hail. New York gets flooded then frozen. A group of people decide that they should follow someone other than one of the lead characters – you can guess what happens to them.
Day After Tomorrow is one of the best disaster movies to be made in 20 years. Roland Emmerich did his homework and pays homage to all of the key ingredients of disaster movies: Token Child (In this case there is the sick kind AND the nerdy kind), Distresses Relationship that grows closer by the end of the movie, token exchange of sentimental item (in this case a book), token pet, the use of the phrase “My God…”, the choice to follow someone, old couple dying together, lovable supporting character who gives their life to save others, and so much more.
Acting wise, these actors all knew where they needed to take their characters in a movie such as this. Dennis Quaid gets away with being Dennis Quaid (and for that much so does Sela Ward but both are perfect in their roles). Ian Holm is great as the Scottish Climatologist working with Quaid on what exactly is going on in the world. Kenneth Welsh (Windom Earle in Twin Peaks about 12 years ago) is great as a Cheney wannabe VP. Jake Gyllenhaal has pretty eyes so its a good thing he gets to stare intently at stuff all the time – books, girls, the sky, wolves, etc. (You see they all are perfect in their roles).
This is most certainly a big screen movie – worth the $10 to see all the effects up there on the screen. There were hardly any shots that you would be like wow that looks like a digital effect (the lone exception is the fake snow covering the migrants fleeing to Mexico). Other than that one, the effects throughout were awesome.
A lot has been written about the politics behind the movie (the swipes at Bush and Cheney, global warming dangers, etc.) but I for one am just glad that someone finally told the public that Global Warming is going to cause an Ice Age. It is something I have been trying to tell people for years since we learned about it in college.
About the only disappointment in the movie is the ending. It is very anti-climatic and feels like a let down. I guess since most of the movie is go-go-go to have all of it end so sudden is quite a shock. Maybe it was just me but I certainly was jarred at the end by its sudden resolution. I was hoping for a bit more.
Go see it. If you enjoy a good disaster movie as I do you won’t be disappointed.