Monday, March 31, 2014

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

I'm now 0 for 3 when it comes to Roland Emmerich films. I hated INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996) and GODZILLA (1998) and I don't have much good to say about THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004), which I watched the other day. I think Roland Emmerich is the illegitimate love child of Irwin Allen and some Hollywood bimbo as he has continually displayed a fetish for disaster porn in most of his films.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW use some extremely questionable science to plunge the entire world into another ice age. Tornadoes destroy Los Angeles and three massive polar vertices (where have we heard that term before?) threaten North America, Europe and Russia respectively. It all has something to do with a sudden warming of the North Atlantic current which paleoclimatologist Dennis Quaid tries to warn the world about early in the film. Turns out his predictions were right about the results but wrong about how long it would take to turn the world into a giant deep freeze. Instead of centuries of geologic time, or many years, or several decades, or months, or weeks, or days, everything goes to hell in a hand basket in a matter of hours!

Quaid's pleas fall on deaf ears at the White House where a very Dick Cheyneyesque vice president poo-poos Quaid's data and delays the call for an immediate evacuation from the northern United States. Of course, at the end of the film, when half of the planet is covered in ice, the Cheyney clone (who has now become the U.S. President) addresses the world and admits that he was wrong. Take that global warming deniers!

I kept thinking that somehow good ol' Dennis Quaid was going to come up with something that would save the day but no, we're all doomed. Instead of saving the world, Quaid sets out to save his son (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has followed his dad's advice and is actually managing to survive (along with a handful of other people) in the frozen wasteland that is now New York City. Nonetheless Quaid dutifully sets out on a rescue mission by walking (!) from Washington D.C to New York City in the worst blizzard ever. We're talking a polar apocalypse but Quaid just keeps plugging away and somehow makes it and manages to find his son (who, along with his buddies, have fought wolves among other dangers) and other survivors in the city.

The special effects are extremely well done and convincing but the wide scale destruction of major American cities becomes a bit tedious after awhile. And in typical disaster movie formula, characters are required to do stupid things that put themselves in even greater jeopardy than the circumstances allow.

I'll give DAY AFTER TOMORROW props on one thing. Since the film was released ten years ago, we have seen extreme weather events across the world, from droughts, to Super Storm Sandy, to the monster typhoon in the South Pacific to the polar vertices of this past winter. I do believe in global warming. I do believe in climate change. I just don't believe it can happen as fast as it does in this film.

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