Day After Tomorrow (The)
Tornados level L.A., icy snow buries N.Y., the U.K. freezes overnight, and billions of people in the Northern Hemisphere die in this film, but thank God that Jack, Sam, Laura, Jason, Dr. Lucy Hall, and Peter, her young cancer patient, survive.
However formulaic and overdone, this disaster movie paints believable, scary scenarios. Quaid plays paleo-climatologist Jack Hall, whose computers show Earth warming and an ice age coming. At a New Delhi conference, he's sarcastically dismissed by American Vice-President Becker (Welsh), who says, "Our economy is as fragile as the environment." But when snow falls in India, softball-sized hail rips Tokyo, turbulence tears planes from the sky, the FAA halts all flights, and birds frantically fly south, the President asks the Vice-President what to do.
Meanwhile, young Sam Hall (Gyllenhaal) is stranded in New York with an academic decathlon team, just as a friend at the White House phones Jack: "This time, you'll brief the President himself." Jack warns that super-cooled air north of Kansas City can kill everyone exposed to it. Next, although his expertise is needed to save millions of Jack and two veteran Arctic-trekking friends will walk from D.C. to New York to find to Sam. Could even they walk vast ice sheets in a blizzard? On roads gridlocked or buried, the three men at first somehow drive part of the way. Then the movie cuts to show Sam agonizing over whether to tell Laura he loves her.
Jack, Sam, and the few New York survivors do what they can with lame dialogue in an unlikely setting, while Jack's wife and Sam's mother, Dr. Lucy Hall (Ward), saves her young cancer patient after the hospital is emptied: With Manhattan flooded to 40+ feet, then frozen, and snow falling, she calls for an ambulance. At least the quiet scenes of a sad, wise Scottish meteorologist (Holm) are meaningful.
Despite an uneven plot, the movie's awesome special effects make it work. A wall of water buries New York, a Russian tanker floats its streets, snow covers skyscrapers, and the crew on a space station can only see more storms ahead. What if such a catastrophe happened? This sublime, ridiculous movie, showing Americans as illegal aliens in Mexico, and the Vice-President addressing the world on the Weather Channel, has a message both real and important: Global warming is real, and the real White House should join the Kyoto Treaty.
Roland Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Dennis Quaid, Perry King, Kenneth Welsh, Ian Holm, Sela Ward, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Rossu
global warming; a new ice age in the Northern Hemisphere
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