The Day After Tomorrow (2004): Review
Roland Emmerich has basically been Hollywood's go to guy for disaster films for more than 20 years now. Unfortunately Father Time hasn't been kind to even some of his best efforts. The Day After Tomorrow make some big bucks when it was first released back in 2004, but I just checked it out for the first time last night.
An ice age seems like it was one of the last natural disasters to cover as the natural disaster movement started to come to an end after a long list of successful blockbusters. Emmerich wrote the screenplay for Day After Tomorrow and unfortunately it doesn't really know if it wants to focus on a family driven story or the whole continent of North American who seems to be the most effected by this deep freeze.
Dennis Quaid plays Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist who discovers that a series of natural disasters is going to result in a new ice age. He spends the first half of the film trying to convince the vice president of the United States to do something about it. Jack's son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is across the country in New York when the storm strikes and becomes trapped after the unexpected event and Jack is forced to travel across America to save his son.
The Day After Tomorrow is painfully stupid. True scientists had been very vocal about the ridiculous plot this film had from the moment it came out. It seemed like Emmerich could've taken a little more time on the script or talked to experts to make this feel like a more grounded film. That may be a pathetic criticism but when you see this film you'll realize that all reason goes out the window.
It takes itself far too seriously for it to be any fun. The film could've definitely benefitted from some star power. Dennis Quaid isn't a movie star. He's just the guy you get when Harrison Ford says no and Jake Gyllenhaal was still establishing himself. Quaid's motivated to save his son and their relationship is somewhat bruised because of his studies, but I just didn't care. The father and son are the only two characters that get explored at all but it becomes such a cliché that it didn't really matter. Plus most of the characters spend the runtime making ridiculously stupid decisions for sake of plot. Gyllenhaal and his friends start to run around in temperatures that are supposedly a hundred degrees below zero. There is even a point where they are chased by a wave of frost before they are able to shut the door on it of course.
Obviously the fact that Quaid could make it across the country in these conditions might be even more ridiculous. The whole journey is some terribly paced that it hard to realize that he is walking hundreds of miles to get to New York. This journey should have taken up a lot more of the film instead of just the second half. The stupidest character of all has to go to the vice president who does nothing but hold up evacuations when its become obvious that the country is in danger.
I'm sure the visual effects would have been great in their time but they are awful now. There is a lot of CGI in the film that doesn't even need to be there. There is a pack of CGI wolves that starts to follow the kids around just to cause trouble and they really have no reason to exist.
On top of all this The Day After Tomorrow ends a predictably as you would expect and the ending comes quite sharply. 13 years have made this movie worse it was probably a little more digestible in its era, but these disaster movies just aren't fun anymore.
The Day After Tomorrow gets 27 out of 100