Antarctic ice begins to crack;
A climate expert takes some flak
For saying global warming may
Cause worldwide tragedy one day.
But this Jack Hall is proven right;
Disasters happen overnight.
The temperature begins to drop
Around the world and doesn’t stop.
In New York City, Sam, Jack’s son,
Observes strange weather has begun.
It’s raining there for days on end,
And even worse events portend.
Japan is struck by giant hail;
Tornados in L.A. assail.
New York is flooded by a wave
That makes the streets a massive grave.
While Sam takes shelter with his pals,
More weather strikes diverse locales.
Jack sees three hurricane-like ice storms
Will rage till Earth’s climate transforms.
A freeze descends on New York, so
Survivors flee across the snow,
But Sam and company decide
The library is where they’ll hide.
Jack leaves with friends to find his son,
Despite his warning everyone.
Meanwhile, Sam’s almost on a date
As he grows close to one classmate.
When Laura needs some medicine,
Sam knows a ship that’s floated in.
He faces wolves (we need a villain)
To bring her back some penicillin.
They’re threatened by an instant freeze
And get in as they lose degrees.
They burn the books to keep them warm,
While Jack takes shelter from the storm.
At last, Sam’s rescued by his dad,
Who is relieved to find the lad.
Now that the storms no longer rage,
We must survive this new ice age.

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