I think that any viewer, whether they believe in global warming or not, can agree that The Day after Tomorrow is shameless environmental propaganda that offers a sensationalist scientific explanation that even global warming proponents have decried as faulty science. Climatologists have stated, even in the film itself, that the cataclysmic events that occur would happen over hundreds of years, not days, if they happened at all. Still, as a special effects extravaganza, it’s just as impressive as director Roland Emmerich’s other film Independence Day. It borrows many aspects of this earlier film, including an initial destruction of aircraft (this time with ice rather than fire) and the death of a First Family member (this time the President himself rather than the First Lady).
Unlike Independence Day, though, The Day after Tomorrow has a much more serious and realistic tone, despite its unrealistic premise. There’s plenty of humor too but none of the campy stylings of the earlier alien invasion film. The film’s main draw is its sequences of impressive destruction: tornados ripping through downtown Los Angeles, a huge wall of water flowing around New York’s skyscrapers, etc. Some of these scenes have attained semi-iconic status, like the obliteration of the White House in Independence Day. If one ignores the half-baked climate change explanation and just takes the upheaval at face value, it’s actually a very entertaining film.
While Sam’s revelation of his attraction to Laura seems rather out of place and overly personal amid the worldwide disasters, I actually think the scenes featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, and the others in the library are the most engaging parts. It’s always fun to see various absurd calamities happen to fictional people, but it’s even more interesting to follow the characters as they survive the aftermath. This survival aspect is something Independence Day didn’t have and something that has been highlighted in other such films, like The Impossible and Gravity.
The beginning and the very end are the main stumbling blocks, where the global warming message is proclaimed too loud and clear for my taste. After all, they seem to blame the Vice President, when his reaction to the one scientist’s claims is rather understandable; even if he had listened and cut down fuel emissions and whatnot, the disaster came fast and furious and couldn’t really have been averted by him. There are also some moments of utter stupidity, like when someone takes their gloves off in freezing weather to support a friend’s weight on broken glass! Yet, ignoring the environmental evangelism, The Day after Tomorrow is a feast for the eyes, at times more thrilling than Independence Day, and with an appreciated lack of objectionable content.
Best line: (Brian, as two other survivors argue over burning Nietzsche’s works) “Uh… ‘scuse me? You guys? Yeah… there’s a whole section on tax law down here that we can burn.”Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 5 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 6 Originality: 5 Watchability: 7 Other (brief language and silly concept): -4 TOTAL: 31 out of 60
Next: #295: The Iron Giant
© 2014 S. G. Liput