As each year goes by the newer, more technologically advanced films set new standards and crush the ones set by the films of the year before. So how much more can be done to wow audiences even more? Well, apparently showing the apocalypse might work.
In Roland Emmerich’s latest film, “The Day After Tomorrow,” visual effects are used to create tidal waves, tornados, blizzards, snowstorms, floods and any other natural disaster I may have left out to depict the end of the world as we know it on epic scale.
It all starts when scientist Jack Hall, played by Dennis Quaid, addresses all the leaders of the world about how global warming is a real thing and how it may one day drastically change the earth’s climate. Hall stresses the reality of the problem and although it may not destroy the world today, it may wipe out the future world their children will live in. He sure was wrong about the timing because just a few days later hailstorms, with ice the size of bowling balls, reign terror on Japan. Soon enough, the rest of the world begins to experience the terrors of nature’s wrath. Los Angeles is stricken with numerous tornados, New York City becomes flooded as its ocean level rises by at least 50 feet and just about the rest of the northern hemisphere becomes a larger clone of the North Pole.
After probably saying a big “I told you so” to himself, Jack makes it his mission to find a solution to the earth’s rapid change of weather before it gets any worse, but there’s one problem; his son is stuck in the New York Central Library after he and friends took shelter there following the floods. This is where the movie divides. In one scene we see Jack researching, talking to other scientists throughout the world and having briefings with the president; in other scenes his son Sam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, experiences the disaster from the front row. So now Jack has a decision to make: does he stay and help find an answer or does he leave and try to win the “Father of the Year” award by rescuing his son?
Okay, so the story is a little “been there, seen that,” but let’s not forget what this film is really about. Forget the hokey side story between the father and the son, this film was set out to tell a story of how the world could end and it’s told in a surprising fashion. The visuals become just as important as the stars of the film. Every time some new disaster happens the story shifts gears and finds something new for the characters to deal with. Without the visual effects, this film would have nothing. Scene after scene we see earth get into even worse shape with breathtaking detail. Each explosion, each tidal wave and each tornado was done so well that saying they look like the real thing is an insult. They look scarier than the real thing; they made me feel sorry for what was happening to the people in this film.
The only thing that could have been more realistic other than the story was the situations that the people were involved with. At one point in the film there is a conflict in which Sam and his buddies are attacked by a pack of wolves on an abandoned ship. Go figure how that was written into the script. The film could have also been more graphic in terms of how many people were killed. Only a handful of clean, unscathed dead bodies were shown, which luckily did not weaken the image of the storm, but it could have looked better if more people were shown actually being killed. If Emmerich and his producers were thinking with their wallets, they may have toned down the violence to get that PG-13 rating, which basically anybody can watch, instead of the R rating, limiting it to those over 17.
Even with its mild level of violence and sometimes clichéd story, “The Day After Tomorrow” does achieve showing us a vision of a troubling future world. People who first saw the commercial for this film may have gotten the immediate reaction of this film being a warning sign of what mother nature can do if we do not take care of her, but instead one of the main themes of this film was hope.
Hope, which is essential in terms of finding a chance for survival. For those people that survived this dreadful day, I can only help but wonder what’s in store for them next week.
*** (out of four).