Review: 'Day After Tomorrow' a wreck


May 28, 2004|By Paul Clinton CNN Reviewer
A tidal wave sweeps down Fifth Avenue in "The Day After Tomorrow."

Can you say cheese? Because that's what you'll get when you buy a ticket to see "The Day After Tomorrow." Don't get me wrong: Visually, the film is stunning. The special effects are breathtaking. The huge vistas of New York City caught in the grip of a tidal wave, followed by hundreds of feet of snow, are remarkable. And, yes, this film, with a reported budget of $125 million, will have a huge opening weekend and will make millions of dollars.


Too bad the plot is full of holes, the story itself does not stay within its own reality, and the dialogue is downright laughable. I know disaster flicks rarely make a whole lot of sense, but this film seems to go out of its way to be stupid.

Director Roland Emmerich is a master at conveying destruction and disaster on a grand scale. This is the man who brought us "Independence Day" (1996) and "Godzilla" (1998), and he does not disappoint on that level. But ultimately -- just like the aforementioned films -- "The Day After Tomorrow" lacks any real human emotion.

Dennis Quaid stars as Washington-based climatologist Jack Hall. His research shows that global warming could trigger a catastrophic shift in the world's climate.

He's got a family, not that it's always apparent. Sela Ward has the unfortunate job of playing his wife, Dr. Lucy Hall, who is basically reduced to a couple of walk-on scenes. Jake Gyllenhaal fares better -- in terms of screen time -- as their 17-year-old son, Sam, who is trapped in New York when a huge super storm sweeps across the globe, and all hell breaks loose.

In the beginning, Hall's warnings fall on deaf ears. He and another scientist, Rapson (Ian Holm), who is stationed in Scotland, are the only ones in the world sounding an alarm. But then events start to happen that confirm their greatest fears.

At this point, common sense leaves the building. Despite snowstorms in New Delhi, tornados destroying Los Angeles, hail the size of baseballs falling on Tokyo, Scotland becoming flash frozen, the royal family evacuating England and New York drowning in a tidal wave, the U.S. government still fails to act. Hall is reduced to pleading with the vice president in a Capitol Hill hallway, where he is dismissed as only one man with an unproved theory.

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