Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Rossum
Director: Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 124 mins
The Day After Tomorrow is an American film about an unprecedented worldwide storm caused by global warming that plunges the entire planet into a new ice age.
You know what you’re getting with Roland Emmerich. Massive blockbusters like Independence Day didn’t make millions for no reason, and it’s the same with The Day After Tomorrow. Insane action, special effects and strong pacing (as well as a surprisingly interesting screenplay) make for a properly enjoyable watch, even if the film’s preachy main message is cheapened as a result.
But let’s start on the positive side, by saying that this is a really fun film. It feels like it’s straight out of the late 90s, the golden age of ridiculous disaster movies, and that’s why you can have so much fun with this movie. Sure, some of the elements of the story may be way over-the-top, and you’ll definitely roll your eyes more than once here, but some of the situations that our main characters find themselves in are properly entertaining, making for the perfect sort of popcorn blockbuster adventure.
What’s more is that the special effects are pretty impressive. While there are a few things about the CGI that seem a little off nowadays, it all holds up pretty well. If there’s one thing that separates this film from the true late 90s, it’s that the CGI here is much more convincing, adding an extra level of fun to the craziest moments throughout.
The performances here aren’t that bad either. A lot of the dialogue is pretty stale, but the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid do a great job to make their characters as sensible and likable as possible. And it works. Whilst the madness surrounding them is something you can sit back and just have fun with, there are some moments in the film where you do genuinely care about the fate of the characters, something that I can’t say many disaster movies do that well.
Of course, I have to recognise that this isn’t the most exceptional piece of cinematic work. It’s huge fun, and if you’re into your late 90s disaster movies, then this will be two hours of absolute joy for you. However, the story is completely ridiculous, the action overblown, and although it’s a surprisingly well-paced story, it’s not the sort of thing that will have you biting your nails in desperate excitement throughout.
But if there’s one thing about The Day After Tomorrow that really doesn’t work, it’s the environmental message. Normally, a preachy message will always get on my nerves, and whilst this film is particularly pushy with its statement about the consequences of global warming, the biggest problem is how it clashes with the rest of the movie’s blockbuster entertainment.
In truth, this is a film with a message from the 21st Century, but a style from the 1990s, and those two really don’t fit together all that well. Whilst it’s a real laugh to watch, the central message is seriously lost in the mess of it all. It’s pretty much impossible to take anything that Emmerich wants to say seriously, simply because everything about the film is so utterly ridiculous.
On the whole, I had a lot of fun with The Day After Tomorrow. It’s got the blockbuster factor of a late 90s disaster movie, with strong performances and special effects to back that up. Its central message may be completely ineffective, and its story utterly ridiculous, but it’s the sort of movie that you can definitely find a lot of fun in if you turn your brain off a little, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.