a critiQal film review The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Plot: After a break in the ice shelf, Jack Hall (Quaid) begins to think another Ice Age is approaching. Despite his pleas to the government, Jack is ignored. When massive weather patterns start emerging, Jack's worst fears are realized: the next Ice Age is almost upon them. Jack's immediate concern is for his son, Sam (Gyllenhaal), who is trapped in the Manhattan Public Library. While the rest of the US flees for Mexico, Jack must race against the elements if he ever wants to see his son alive again.

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  • ...director Roland Emmerich delivers another great disaster movie - and the return of Dennis Quaid.

This was one of those movies I thought I had seen most of already. The previews seemed to show (what I thought were) all of the big scenes of the movie. Then, I happened to catch the 10 minute preview for The Day After Tomorrow that was shown on TV (I don’t remember the channel). So, with the combination of the trailers and the 10 minute preview, I thought there wasn’t much else to see in the movie. Boy, was I wrong.

The actors all performed high above my expectations. Dennis Quaid, who seems to have dropped out of the limelight in recent years, comes back with a vengeance here, and gives arguably one of the best performances of his career.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who most viewers may recognize from his outstanding performance in Donnie Darko (2001), did drop a bit here, but the rest of the cast helped cover him. It’s true this film was a lot more action-oriented than Donnie Darko (2001), but he seemed a bit out of his element.

The supporting cast also did an excellent job of making the viewer care about what happened to them – which always should be the number one priority for any actor.

The plot was fitting for today’s image of the world, as can be noted by the mass backing of The Day After Tomorrow by many environmentalist groups. While the coming of the next Ice Age may not be as close as this movie shows, it does raise an interesting question: what would we do if something this cataclysmic were to occur? Just getting the viewer to question what a real-life situation would entail showcases how believable the film makes the entire sequence appear to be. That’s a combination of many aspects of a film coming together incredibly well, among them the script, the ability of the actors and of course, the special effects.

While Roland Emmerich is known for making huge special effects films (Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998)), he seemed to go above and beyond for The Day After Tomorrow. From a huge crack in the ice shelf to a massive tidal wave sweeping down the streets of New York, the effects just keep on coming…and getting bigger and bigger.

Since it is a Roland Emmerich film, he obviously feels the need to make his films even more memorable by destroying something famous. In Independence Day (1996), of course, it was the White House and the Sears Tower. For The Day After Tomorrow, it’s the Hollywood sign, among others. And the best part of all these gigantic effects shots? They all look so realistic you could swear it really happened. My hat’s off to the guys who designed these.

The Day After Tomorrow is a great disaster movie that ranks up there with Independence Day (1996). It’s got a great script, a cast of characters who surprise everyone with their (mostly) excellent performances and picture perfect special effects.

When you have two of the three, you’ve got a good movie on your hands, usually. Three out of three is incredibly rare, but this movie manages to do it. Honestly, the movie manages to draw you so completely into the film, you can almost imagine the air cooling down around you.

It isn’t perfect, since it’s almost as if the filmmakers realized they were running out of time and had to quicken the film near the ending…and there are one or two cheesy lines. Overall, however, this film will leave you wanting to see it again. Maybe not in the theaters again, but I know for one I can’t wait to pick this one up when it hits DVD.

Basically, with a movie this good, don’t wait for The Day After Tomorrow – see it today.

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