He's not Osama bin Laden, he's definitely not a terrorist, but this man loves destroying New York City. Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and Godzilla, does it again with The Day After Tomorrow, a film about X-Treme global warming.
It has been a long time coming since the last big disaster flick, unless you count The Core, which no one saw, and what a delight it is to be able to just sit back, relax and watch the world get torn apart by tornadoes, hurricanes and lots and lots of snow. Believability aside, it is an entertaining two-hours, though compared to Independence Day, or Twister for that matter, it... well, doesn't compare.
Special effects dominate the film and they range from incredible to downright pathetic. For the most part, the effects are tremendously good; the shots of Los Angeles being hammered by tornadoes and the scenery from the space station are top notch. The damage that happens in New York is just as noteworthy. On the downside, there are wolves. While the special effects artists behind the movie are obviously very talented at doing weather, they really suck when it comes to animals. Why Emmerich decided he should use computerized wolves when he could just use real ones - why should directors ever use fake things when they have easy access to the real deal is beyond me - is hard to grasp, as the wolves that for some reason show up halfway through the movie look absolutely terrible. Really, the wolves hurt the entire movie, just like the cougar scene in the second season of "24" hurt that show's reputation.
Aside from pointless wolves, The Day After Tomorrow does suffer from other typical disaster-esque clichés and cheesy concepts. There is hardly a scene in the movie that isn't predictable; within the first few minutes it is quite clear who is going to live and who is going to die. The scene where the librarian deduces what ailment a character has just by reading out of a medical textbook is beyond stupid. It is also hard to imagine that the heroes of the film would be stupid enough to walk across a glass ceiling, when it is only covered with an inch or two of snow (and how does he get the ice pick to hold?). There are several other little inaccuracies, excluding the rapid weather change that is the basis of the film.
To complain about the scientific aspects of the film are pointless; basically, if you're expecting a completely accurate display of how global warming will affect our planet, watch the Discovery Channel - The Day After Tomorrow is a disaster flick, plain and simple. And really, for the most part, little of the weather scenes made me cringe at all; I loved watching the weather and the special effects do their worst.
As entertaining as The Day After Tomorrow is, it does suffer from one major thing: the lack of a third act. The ending is extremely anticlimactic, both in that it fails to have one last exciting action sequence and that it never really details what is in the world's future. When the credits rolled at the end, I felt as though there was a chunk missing. And what ever happened to Ian Holm's character? His fate is foreshadowed, but never even implied.
The Day After Tomorrow is not as good as Independence Day and does not adequately address the fates of the people in the rest of the world (at least show a few shots of other major landmarks around the world getting destroyed), but it is entertaining and should be a viable contender for Best Visual Effects come Oscar time. Anyone looking for a good popcorn movie should definitely check this one out.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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