Fri May 28, 2004
The Day After Tomorrow
I enjoyed the 2 hours. Go figure! It's summertime!
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Until hell freezes over! Well, some people say New York City is hell, so it's fitting that Roland Emmerich's ("Godzilla," "Independence Day") "Day After Tomorrow" features the freezing of NYC, and the whole northern hemisphere for that matter, as a result of global warming.
This summer's disaster movie begins with an absurd premise about an instantaneous warming that leads to freezing in our lifetime and ends with the not absurd warnings about our planetary abuse of resources and the reliance we will eventually have on those third world nations we so regularly patronize. The satirical brush stroke is broad (The obtuse vice president very much resembles Cheney), and the denouement is the longest in the history of cinema (After the tsunami featured in the trailer, what else for an hour could you do to hold attention?).
Climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), who warned everyone about the impending disaster, trudges from D.C to New York to be with his stranded son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal). It takes him just a bit longer than it would on the Baltimore-Washington Expressway in the non-ice age, so what's the big deal? Nothing! The movie was over already. The subplots like Jack's humanitarian ex-wife doctor (Sela Ward) with a terminal child are tangential and ridiculous against the backdrop of people burning rare manuscripts in the NYC Metro Library just to stay alive. Jack's heroics are pretty funny given he is the only one with the computer program to figure out this climate mess, and he is hiking to NY to see his kid.
Don't get me wrong; I loved the opening helicopter shots of Antarctica, the CGI of frozen New York, and the overall warming warning. But when Emmerich inexplicably introduces rogue wolves and drops off the intriguing Ian Holm as a prescient professor in favor of Quaid snow shoeing to NYC, then I'm just disappointed in what could have been. "Poseidon Adventure" is the director's favorite disaster flick; there is something universal and memorable there that is not present in "Day After Tomorrow." If you watch "Meteor," "Sudden Impact," or "The Core," you'll also find the disaster formula disappointingly presented.
Yet, I enjoyed the 2 hours. Go figure! It's summertime!
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com.