The Day After Tomorrow


Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by:Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward
Released: May 27, 2004
Grade: C+

The Day After Tomorrow is a film I had hoped to enjoy but sadly it is riddled with too many faults and inconsistencies.   The concept revolves around global warming.  The polar icecaps have melted, the earth’s magnetic field has been disrupted and now the world’s weather has gone haywire.  There are twisters, tornados, hail storms, tidal waves, howling winds and freezing temperatures.  The film has been promoted for many months now and so I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisements to picture the above destruction.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of story to go against this backdrop.  Watching that tidal wave sweep through New York City was fun but special effects alone do not make a movie.  There’s a few characters that the screenwriters try to develop but they don’t succeed.  It feels as if the film has been shortened and much of the character development has been left on the cutting room floor.  If you want proof, look at how lamentably short and unemotional the finale is.

This lack of emotion may be the film’s biggest undoing.  Thousands of people are killed but you wouldn’t know it.  The film veers away from the disturbing elements of the story to focus on the more uplifting tales.  The central story is that of a father (Quaid) going in search of his lost son (Gyllenhaal) in New York City.  There’s also a nurse (Ward) caring for a sick child, an aging meteorologist (Holm) seeing his predictions come to fruition, an adventurer (Sanders) sticking by his partner of 20 years, and a girl (Rossum) finding love in an unpredictable place.  Unfortunately, the conclusions to these secondary subplots are rushed.  I’m not even what sure what became of Ian Holm.  Will we see more on a director’s cut?

The other problem with the screenplay is its general phoniness.  In one scene, we see a twister set itself perfectly on the landmark Hollywood sign as a helicopter just happens to fly past and film it for a live television audience.  That’s just the tip of the melted iceberg (so to speak).  The overdramatic dialogue which engulfs the film’s two hours is just too fake.  Was there a single line which was improvised?

When you look at director Roland Emmerich’s resume, you’ll see that this isn’t the first time he’s produced a superficial blockbuster.  Anyone remember Godzilla and Mel Gibson’s The Patriot?  Emmerich is given a world of talent to work with but it he can’t deliver.  Wasted are the talents of the underappreciated Dennis Quaid (Frequency) and rising star Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko).

I guess what it boils down to is the question – will I remember this film the day after tomorrow?  The correct answer is no.