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The Day After Tomorrow (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Commentary by Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon;Commentary by co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, cinematographer Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner and production designer Barry Chusid.
Disc Two: Pre-visualisation; Pre-production meeting; Storyboard gallery; Concept art gallery; Eye of the Storm: Filming The Day After Tomorrow; Pushing the Envelope: Visual Effects; Scoring; The Final Mix; Interactive Demo; Deleted scenes (with optional commentary); The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Change; Trailers.

THE effects of global warming provide the basis for the ultimate ‘what if’ scenario in The Day After Tomorrow, a spectacular, effects-laden blockbuster, that also serves as a timely cautionary tale about the stability of our present environment.

Having laid waste to most of the planet with his alien invasion flick, Independence Day, writer-director, Roland Emmerich, now turns his attentions to climate change, for another of those jaw-dropping disaster epics.

Hence, the world finds itself on the brink of a new Ice Age, as level-headed climatologist, Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), dashes about, trying to prevent the inevitable loss of life, while coming to the rescue of his estranged son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal).

It’s badly flawed, of course, and ignores the laws of physics, but it is also a rollicking roller-coaster ride, packed with all manner of mayhem, gung-ho heroics and knowingly cheesy dialogue.

Its none too subtle digs at the expense of US environmental policy have also got a few politicians hot under the collar, for the way in which key world leaders (most notably in the form of the US Vice-President) consistently ignore warnings, on the way to the inevitable catastrophe.

But taken at sheer face value, The Day After Tomorrow succeeds on just about every level it strives to reach.

There is tremendous fun to be had in watching the countdown to disaster, as a series of increasingly severe weather events start to unfold across the globe, including hail the size of grapefruit battering Tokyo, and tornadoes wreaking havoc on LA.

By the time the show-stopping tidal wave sweeps all before it, in New York, and Ian Holm utters the chilling words, ‘save as many as you can’, viewers are likely to be breathless with excitement, ahead of the anticipated cold snap which follows, and which subsequently plunges the northern hemisphere into a new ice age.

The film only tends to lose its way, ironically, when the special effects stop, and the talking starts, especially when Quaid determines to walk to New York, from Philadelphia, in a desperate ‘dash’ to save his son.

But it’s also part of the fun, as blockbusters on this scale, almost inevitably, feel the need to encompass some form of groan-inducing stupidity.

Yet, in spite of this, The Day After Tomorrow remains better than most blockbusters of this sort, which is a testament not only to the quality of the set-pieces, but to the likeability of its lead actors, with both Quaid and Gyllenhaal capable of winning over the audience, in spite of such preposterous dialogue.

The scientists and environmental campaigners will, of course, have a field day picking the logic and events apart, but given some of the more extreme weather variations we have experienced over the past couple of years, in real-life, I doubt anyone will be able to resist casting their eyes skywards, at least for a couple of moments, after they’ve seen it.

Emmerich deserves praise for the way in which he has, at the very least, got people to think a little harder about global warming, even if the events in his film unfold at a near-impossible rate, as well as for having the tongue-in-cheek balls to make some political statements.

This is, at the end of the day, a blockbuster in the finest sense of the word, which delivers the awe-inspiring spectacle required from this sort of thing, with an all-too rare ability to provoke some fun debate afterwards.

It is an exhilarating ride, from start to finish, which looks certain to go down a storm at the world-wide box office.

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