The Day After Tomorrow

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     I find the so-called controversy about The Day After Tomorrow laughable. Since when did anyone care about whether the science portrayed in a movie is realistic or not? Where was the controversy about The Core or Armageddon? The science in these movies was totally wrong but it caused no hue and cry. However, suddenly there's a movie about Global Warming and everyone is incensed about it. We need to calm down. The Day After Tomorrow is just your average science disaster movie and it's not half bad. I won't go into detail about what's right and wrong about the science in this movie. Look here for a discussion. But a lot of the topics, such as abrupt climate change, ice ages, changes in the deep ocean currents due to melting of the ice caps, and rising ocean levels are real effects. They just don't occur in "7 to 10 days" as happens in The Day After Tomorrow.  An abrupt climate change might happen in 100 or 1000 years. These things all happened in the past due to natural effects on the Earth and don't have to be man-made.  But listen, forget all that stuff. This is just an entertaining science disaster movie.

    In The Day After Tomorrow, a couple of paleo-climatologists (Dennis Quaid & Ian Holm) start seeing things in their data that point toward an abrupt climate change. Needless to say, the powers that be, thinly veiled caricatures of Cheney and Bush (Kenneth Walsh & Perry King), don't believe our intrepid scientists until it's too late. Huge storms sweep the Earth.  Los Angeles is destroyed by tornadoes. New York City is flooded and then flash frozen. Quaid's son (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on a high school class trip to New York City with some friends (Emmy Rossum & Arjay Smith) when all hell breaks loose.  Quaid, who has spent lots of time in Alaska, Greenland, Antarctica etc, when he should have been bonding with his son, sets off to rescue Gyllenhaal.  This involves a trek across an arctic waste that used to be called Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. His son and friends have holed up in the New York public library and are burning all the books to keep warm. Meanwhile, as many people as possible are heading for Mexico. Quaid's wife (Sela Ward) is a heroic oncologist who tries to save a young patient while worrying about her husband and son.

      The director, Roland Emmerich, also did Godzilla and Independence Day so he knows how to make a disaster movie. And he's even destroyed New York City before. Anyway, The Day After Tomorrow has a good flow and the story keeps moving along.  The effects are very good and so what, if things and people wouldn't actually be frozen to death in a split second. The cast is good too. It's nice to see Dennis Quaid although we don't get to see his patented smile until the very end of the movie.  He has his jaw clenched for two hours. Jake Gyllenhaal gives another good low-key performance. His work seems effortless. Ian Holm, forever now looking like Bilbo, is great as the other Cassandra-scientist. Unfortunately, he isn't around for long enough. Emmy Rossum, seen briefly as Sean Penn's daughter in Mystic River, is good as Gyllenhaal's love interest.

    This is another movie where your expectations going in are very important. I enjoyed it. I like this kind of movie and I get a lot of laughs that others may not about the scientific stuff. For instance, in The Day After Tomorrow everything happens way too fast. An ice age starts in a week and before that Quaid has 48 hours to develop and run a complex climate computer model. He does have help from some other scientists (Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders & Tamlyn Tomita). I racked my brains through the whole movie as to where I had seen Tomita before.  (Answer: Ralph Macchio's love interest in Karate Kid II.) Where was I? Oh ya, the only realistic thing about this is that Quaid has trouble getting time on the computer to run his model! They did the same thing in The Core. At least, in movies like Contact and Twister, you see the scientists spending years getting grants, building instruments and getting data.  But, hey, if the world is going to be in an ice age by next week, you gotta speed things up! Anyway, don't worry about Global Warming. Drive your SUV over to the multiplex and relax and watch the world get trashed.