STARRING: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Austin Nichols, Arjay Smith

2004, 124 Minutes, Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Description: In Independence Day Roland Emmerich brought you the near destruction of earth by aliens. Now, in The Day After Tomorrow the enemy is an even more devastating force: nature itself. Tornadoes rip Los Angeles; a massive snow storm pounds New Delhi; hail the size of grapefruit batters Tokyo; and in New York City, the temperature swings from sweltering to freezing in one day. In this special-effects packed, highly anticipated event motion picture, an abrupt climate change has cataclysmic consequences for the entire planet.

If there is anyone more set on the destruction of New York than Osama bin Laden, it’d be director Roland Emmerich.

In Independence Day he had huge flying saucers blow up the Empire State building, and in Godzilla an oversized mutant lizard stomped Manhattan. In his latest film, The Day After Tomorrow he subjects the Big Apple to a new Ice Age as enormous tidal waves flood the city and then freezes over. I actually felt quite sorry for the people I know whom lives in that city, even though one of them is a sadistic film rep who sends me terrible movies such as Vampire Junction and Psycho Santa to review!

Just what is it with Emmerich’s vendetta towards New York? Was he mugged in Central Park once? Did a cabbie drive him around in circles and then overcharged him (as one did with me and my wife when we visited Istanbul)? Anyway, in The Day After Tomorrow New Yorkers need not feel alone as the entire Northern hemisphere is subjected to freakish destructive weather as the polar ice caps melt because of global warming and paradoxically result in temperatures dropping to sub-Arctic levels.

"The Day After Tomorrow is better than one would expect . . ."

A climatologist played by the ever dependable Dennis (Innerspace, Frequency) Quaid tries to warn the U.S. government in the guise of a vice president that is a dead ringer for Dick Cheney about the impending environmental doom. It is obviously a Republican government we’re dealing with here because his warnings are ignored. (Strangely enough though the President resembles Al Gore!) Then the caps start melting at a phenomenal rate and we’re soon dealing with The End Of The World As We Know It as Americans flee across the border to Mexico (oh, the delicious irony!) to escape the catastrophe. Magnanimously the Mexican president allows all the Yankees to enter. I guess he has a poor grasp of history and have forgotten everything from the Texas land grab to NAFTA to be so nice to the gringos. (Or maybe it had something to do with the American President promising to cancel all their debt!)

Anyway, our climatologist hero’s son (Jake Gyllenhaal, who was excellent in the brilliant Donnie Darko) is stuck in the New York public library and a lot of the film is concerned with his efforts to rescue him.

Global warming is of course a real issue (as opposed to alien invasions and meteors hitting the Earth, the chances of which are infinitesimally small). Unfortunately its causes are never truly addressed in this movie (those damn polluting SUVs I tell ya!) but hey, this is a popcorn muncher and Coke-slurping movie after all. The events in the movie are also compressed into the space of a few weeks instead of the several hundred years the process will probably take and thus impossible. (But then it’d be a very long movie.) In the meantime we can safely and snugly keep on driving those SUVs knowing that our grandchildren and their children would have to deal with the consequences one day.

(Much has been made about The Day After Tomorrow being left-wing, but I don’t understand how the whole issue could be ideological. We all like fresh air regardless of political persuasion, don't we?)

The Day After Tomorrow repeats all the usual disaster movie clichés we’ve come to see again in recent years in movies such as Twister, Armageddon, Deep Impact and The Core.

Fortunately director Emmerich manages to largely avoid the idiocies so abundant in his previous movies. Sure, there are some dumb contrived moments and some schmaltzy breathers in between the action that’d make you fidgety, but ultimately the movie is Emmerich’s best since StarGate. I know that isn’t saying much, but The Day After Tomorrow is better than one would expect. The pace is quick, the clouds aren’t Apple Mac compatible and the cast is able even though Jake Gyllenhaal looks a bit too old to be still at school (just how old is he?).


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