I don't think anyone gets more pleasure out of destroying New York than director Roland Emmerich.
He did it in Independence Day, Godzilla, and now in The Day After Tomorrow.
I won't even attempt to explain the science of the movie (which I'm sure is questionable), but it has to do with global warming causing a
second ice age.
Dennis Quaid plays a climatologist whose son (Jake Gyllenhaal) is caught in New York. The city has been flooded, hit with a tidal wave, and
will soon freeze to below -150 degrees. Quaid decides to risk his life and find his son. How heroic of him...
Forget Quaid and Gyllenhaal, the real stars of this movie are the visual effects. The super realistic destruction of cities across the United
States is truly phenomenal work by Industrial Light and Magic. And for the first half of this movie, that is all we need.
However, after the storms have hit, we are left with the characters. And that is where the movie stumbles.
Gyllenhaal and Quaid are so dead in the water throughout the entire story it's almost embarrassing. But maybe they are not entirely to
blame. The script (also by Emmerich) is riddled with action movie clichés. Characters are either spouting scientific mumbo jumbo or stating
the obvious ("I thought you drowned!"... No shit).
The film works hard to make itself believable in the first half, but then throws it all away in the second. While normal civilians are frozen to
death outside, somehow Quaid hikes from Philadelphia to New York. And he does so relatively easily.
There is also a laughable scene where they must outrun the super freeze, which travels along the walls slightly slower than them.
The film, like Independence Day, is also a bit too broad. Instead of focusing on Quaid and Gyllenhaal and possibly tweaking that story into
something interesting, we get dozens of forgettable characters that really have no point but to fill time.
The "save the planet" ending is also more than a bit cheesy.
All that said though, The Day After Tomorrow is not a bad film. In fact for the first two-thirds or so it's quite entertaining. All in all The Day
After Tomorrow is a fairly standard thriller with special effects that put it slightly above average.
* * 1/2
(out of four)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum,
Cinematography by: Ueli Steiger
Music by: Harold Kloser and Thomas Wanker
Released: May 28, 2004; 124 Minutes