When global warming triggers the onset of a new Ice Age, tornadoes flatten Los Angeles, a tidal wave engulfs New York City and the entire Northern Hemisphere begins to freeze solid. Now, climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a small band of survivors must ride out the growing superstorm and stay alive in the face of an enemy more powerful and relentless than any they've ever encountered: Mother Nature!
Supreme silliness doesn't stop
The Day After Tomorrow from being lots of fun for connoisseurs of epic-scale disaster flicks. After the blockbuster profits of
Independence Day and
Godzilla, you can't blame director Roland Emmerich for using global warming as a politically correct excuse for destroying most of the northern hemisphere. Like most of Emmerich's films, this one emphasizes special effects over such lesser priorities as well-drawn characters and plausible plotting, and his dialogue (cowritten by Jeffrey Nachmanoff) is so laughably trite that it could be entirely eliminated without harming the movie. It's the spectacle that's important here, not the lame, recycled plot about father and son (Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal) who endure an end-of-the-world scenario caused by the effects of global warming. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the awesome visions of tornado-ravaged Los Angeles, blizzards in New Delhi, Japan pummeled by grapefruit-sized hailstones, and Manhattan flooded by swelling oceans and then frozen by the onset of a modern ice age. It's all wildly impressive, and Emmerich obviously doesn't care if the science is flimsy, so why should you?
The New Yorker
A cautionary tale disguised as a disaster flick. Roland Emmerich, who gave us aggressive aliens in "Independence Day" and unhelpfully large lizards in "Godzilla," has turned his attention to global warming-a foe so unsatisfying that you can't even shoot it down. Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a climatologist who realizes, as a slice of the polar ice cap slides into the sea, that the end of the world (or, at any rate, of that half of the world that drives S.U.V.s) is nigh. Needless to say, nobody believes him until it's too late, by which time Los Angeles is being danced upon by tornadoes and New York is doing a convincing impersonation of a frozen Daiquiri. Millions perish, but that is not the problem. The problem is that Jack, based in Washington, needs badly to bond with his moony son (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is sitting tight in the New York Public Library with plenty to read and a cozy fellow-student (Emmy Rossum) to keep him warm. Meanwhile, the rest of the population is hurrying south to Mexico. The special effects rely less on credibility than on bombast, and the whole project is so dumb, ill-written, and condescending that it may become counterproductive, with viewers fleeing the cinema and vowing never to recycle again. With Ian Holm, stranded in every sense.-A.L. (6/7/04) -Anthony Lane
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