The Day After Tomorrow (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/05/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 125 mins

Very much a film of two halves – “tomorrow” is great, with terrific, genuinely exciting effects sequences, but “the day after” is a mess of cheese, syrup and rubbish.

On paper, the latest film from Roland Independence Day Emmerich looks like it can’t lose – let’s face it, who doesn’t like watching New York and L.A. get destroyed? The teaser trailer promises grand effects extravaganzas such as tidal waves hitting New York and the city literally snowed under as a new Ice Age dawns.

However, although the film has a commendably ‘green’ message and some nice ideas it falls down on the human drama element with trite storylines and a script that is at best cheesy and at worst flat out stupid.

Portents Of Doom Ignored…As Always

Dennis Quaid plays weather expert Professor Jack Hall. While out drilling in the Arctic one day he’s a little shaken up when the ice shelf splits down the middle. Realising that this means the ice flows are melting and that this could eventually lead to a new Ice Age (don’t ask how), he warns a conference full of bigwigs, but will they listen? Oh no. At least, not until giant hailstones hit Tokyo and L.A. gets wiped out by tornadoes.

This being an eco-disaster movie, it’s only a matter of days before the world is hit by horrific storms, with a rather nasty cold snap hot on their heels. And when a giant tidal wave hits New York, Jack decides that now might be a good time to catch up on some neglected father / son bonding, so he sets off, on foot, to rescue his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s holed up in the New York Public Library. (Although exactly what he thinks he’ll be able to do when he gets there is never really explained).

The first half of the film is genuinely exciting, allowing you to cheer as Fox News reporters get offed by tornadoes and snicker as the Hollywood sign gets blown down. It’s a shame that the L.A. sequence doesn’t last longer though as, aside from the tidal wave, it’s the best bit and the CGI effects in general are spectacular.

However, once the cold hits New York, the action freezes with it, to the point where Emmerich has to shoe-horn in an attack of Bad CGI Wolves in order to inject a little excitement.

Unbelievably Stupid Script

The acting is generally fine. That said, the film has some serious problems – for example, key events (including at least one that would have been a real crowd-pleaser) happen offscreen and some characters are completely abandoned. The script is also unbelievably stupid in places – for example, the characters in the library burn books to keep warm instead of the multitude of wooden tables and chairs.

The sub-plots themselves are ridiculously underdeveloped (the Sick Child cliché being the most obvious example), to the point where you suspect the film has had large chunks hacked out of it in order to keep down the running time. As a result, none of the stories have any real emotional impact.

In short, the film is worth seeing for the special effects but it’s more enjoyable on a ‘bad movie’ level than as a big summer blockbuster and true disaster fans are probably better off renting The Core on DVD instead.

Film Trailer

The Day After Tomorrow (12A)
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Content updated: 21/11/2017 06:13

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