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The Day After Tomorrow
2004 - PG-13 - 124 Mins.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Producer: Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon
Written By: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum
Review by: Joe Rickey

No, this isn't a scene from Godzilla.
Roland Emmerich, the man behind the spectacles that were 'Independence Day' and 'Godzilla', returns to destroying landmarks with the global-warming disaster film 'The Day After Tomorrow'; which tells the story of how rapidly accelerating melting polar ice caps cause a major climate shift and result in a tidal wave turning New York City into a big lake or ocean if you will, along with tornados absolutely laying waste in stunning fashion to Los Angeles. Amongst all this turmoil, a Climatologist (Dennis Quaid); the first person to recognize the abrupt climate shift, heads to New York City to rescue his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) who's on vacation for a Knowledge Bowl competition.

Featuring an absolutely stunning first hour, 'The Day After Tomorrow' is unfortunately unable to maintain its momentum but is still worth recommending if not just to witness perhaps the best display of special effects ever put to film outside of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Director Emmerich utilizes the time-proven way of structuring a disaster film by starting off with a relatively small scene of destruction in which a chunk of ice the size of Rhode Island breaks off an Artic ice cap. From this small-scale scene that is rather stunning nonetheless, what with its subtle use of computer generated images to capture the action right next to the dissipating ice cap; the film then gradually increases the scale of its disasters. By far the most memorable scenes are the two aforementioned illustrations of destruction on a grand scale: a tidal wave that is simply wondrous to watch as it shreds its way through the center of New York City; leveling everything in its path. Then there is the seamless way in which multiple tornadoes obliterate Los Angeles and, in a highly suspenseful scene if not a little implausible, fling cars down a highway as a driver struggles desperately to dodge the oncoming debris of gigantic proportions. If the special effects team doesn’t receive an Academy Award nomination; they will have been robbed as the seamless way in which the effects blend with what is real is perfect on a grand scale never seen before in a film of this ilk.

Somewhat surprising though is the rather clever script that has been devised as the film includes many scenes of levity in what could have potentially been an overly serious drama. The inclusion of these scenes of humor are a necessity as those behind the film seem to realize that the whole idea behind the film is not exactly possible the way it is portrayed in the film; while global warming can cause gradual climate shifts the idea that the climate could shift so abruptly as in this film, seven to ten days to be exact; isn’t really remotely possible.

The film doesn’t maintain its breakneck pacing throughout as in the second and final hour much time is spent developing the myriad of characters in the film from a kind and funny homeless man and his dog to fellow members on the Knowledge Bowl team, the film takes the time to bring personality to its cast. The unfortunate thing is that while the homeless man is developed in a successful manner through which the audience is able to grasp his thoughts and motives; various other supporting characters are given the short shrift in the developing of their back stories; coming across as one-dimensional. The film also lags a little too often in the middle before picking up once again for a grand finale. The acting though is well done. As the father and son that give the film its backbone, both Gyllenhaal and Quaid are quite good; Gyllenhaal especially gives a performance that should raise his stock in Hollywood after the inevitable success of the film at the worldwide box office.

The quintessential summer box office event film, 'The Day After Tomorrow' doesn’t disappoint with its combination of both action spectacle and low-key humor.

Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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