Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Day After Tomorrow

directed by Roland Emmerich

The Day After Tomorrow poster  
Jack Hall is a maverick climatologist who holds some unorthodox views. He believes that global warming could lead to a sudden, catastrophic cooling of the world if the delicate balance of the climate is disrupted beyond a certain point. When a series of freak weather events occur around the globe it looks increasingly like he could be proven right.

The Day After Tomorrow is nothing if not dramatic, and no ordinary weather will do for this movie. Hailstones the size of cricket balls rain down, followed by super-sized tornadoes and massive flooding, building up to the icy finale. There's so much ice involved that it makes you feel cold just watching it.

Everything happens very quickly. People have to rush to save themselves and don't have much time to stand around debating about who has the best climate model. As you may have guessed, this is a film that doesn't let actual science get in the way of a good apocalypse. It's not based on any theory touted by real scientists, although some do suggest that global warming could disrupt the flow of the ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream, which would lead to certain areas getting cooler. That's about as close as the film comes to being believable, before it flies off into the realms of pure fantasy. Roland Emmerich has opted to make this an effects-laden disaster movie. But by choosing spectacular effects over likely scenarios he has, ironically, lessened its impact.

The story focuses on Jack Hall's family. Sam Hall (Jake Gyllenhaal) a smart student who doesn't get to spend enough time with his father, is in New York for a quiz competition. He's in love with one of the girls on his quiz team. His mother is working in a hospital, so when disaster strikes the whole family is split up. As the weather draws in they, and others, have to do what they can to survive and to help as many people as possible stay alive. Opportunities for heroism and self-sacrifice abound, so that Emmerich manages to turn a story of hubris into a triumph of the American spirit. Millions of people may die, but their fates are insignificant next to the story of one boy and his father.

The Day After Tomorrow is undoubtedly an attractive movie, with superb imagery. But it's overly melodramatic, full of so many improbably heroic people that the end result is quite cloying.

Film Details

Year: 2004

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Roland Emmerich