PSIPOOK | reviews | the day after tomorrow



The Day after Tomorrow
Disaster/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/124mins
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum
Director: Roland Emerich
20th Century Fox

Over the next twenty years climate change will bring Siberian weather to temperate European and US cities, drown coastal conurbations, cause widespread rioting, pitch nations into conflict over dwindling space and resources, displace millions and greatly increase the chances of a nuclear exchange. This is not the plot of The Day after Tomorrow, these are the findings of a Pentagon national security review leaked earlier this year, that claims global warming is a greater threat to US and world security than terrorism or rogue states.

A pretty scary vision. So why does director/writer/environmentalist Roland Emerich, when he is on an obvious mission to persuade, and when there is so many urgent real world problems, create such a patently absurd vision of climatic calamity?

In Emerich’s version, the process of change is compressed into a matter of days, with mega storms sucking super-cooled air from the troposphere and creating an instant ice age across the northern hemisphere and almost everyone freezing to death.

As is the way with disaster pics, the story hinges on the one man with all the answers, in this case Dennis Quaid, a climatologist who tries to convince a sceptical US government of the dangers in store and then walks through a raging blizzard from Philadelphia to New York to find his son. His son, being a chip off the old block, is busy keeping a cool head when all around are getting theirs frozen, saving lives and impressing his teenage girlfriend into undying love. Quaid has a wife too, who exists only to fret about her son and provide an irrelevant sub plot about a cancer-stricken child.

Aside from a call to environmental arms, the film is the ultimate disaster flick and disaster is what Emerich excels at. With the aid of CG we see LA demolished by twisters and New York swamped by a tidal wave and then buried in ice. Along the way he sneaks in some nice jibes at the smugness of the developed world.

In his mission to persuade, Emerich falls out the pulpit. In his mission to thrill, he provides a rollocking good yarn.

Review by Chris Page

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