OFC title

The Day After Tomorrow

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Day AfterThis by-the-numbers disaster flick is a waste of money ($125 million production budget), talent (an impressive cast hobbled by a lame script), and opportunity – they could have made a great dark comedy with a little tweaking. Instead of going dark they played it straight – trying to be Die Hard, the gold standard in the disaster genre. All of the elements of the formula are there: (a) several groups of people in different locations nobly battling to overcome the nasty weather; (b) different groups appeal to different demographics, including the obligatory teen-romantic subplot – well acted given the dreadful script by Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum; (c) some people are cramped into a small space – a lame device to heighten the drama; (d) sage advice from our hero (Dennis Quaid) is ignored at first then grudgingly accepted; and (e) injection of “warm and fuzzy” moments during the [weakly developed] drama to give the audience a breather. All of the elements for a classic disaster movie are nominally there but the film fails miserably – principally due to the writing.

Way too much suspension of disbelief is needed to buy into the premise. How could it get cold enough in a week or so as to doom everybody north of Virginia and require everybody to the south to evacuate to Mexico – didn’t their heating systems work? How can a body of water maybe 100 feet deep freeze almost overnight? If it really is that cold, how could our hero walk from D.C. to N.Y.C.? Why are the people fleeing to Mexico wading across the Rio Grande -- a little unintentional humor – I can’t believe they didn’t cut that silly shot – what happened to their cars? I could go on – there is a way too much of that type of silliness – a lot of campy humor for a supposedly straight-up film. Believe it or not it could have been worse but for the competent cast – for example, Ian Holm was impressive as a researcher stranded in Britain.

If I were the producers, I would be pretty angry about what I saw on the screen – even the special effects weren’t all that great. I liked a couple of shots where they showed Manhattan flooding with taxicabs floating around like little toys but I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before. The Perfect Storm is a much better ocean adventure film – the CG effects of the waves were used to much better dramatic effect and looked more realistic in that classic. And the “wolves” looked like dogs – annoyed by the prosthetic fangs glued to their mouths. The real lost opportunity is that if they had realized how much potential for humor – of the dark variety – there is in this material, they could have made a great comedy.

Photographs are copyright Twentieth Century Fox.

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