The Day After Tomorrow


I confess – I actually quite enjoy Independence Day. Sure it’s schmaltzy and jingoistic. It is also great fun though, and I still enjoy seeing it on tele from time to time. Given that, I awaited The Day After Tomorrow with a positive outlook, hoping for fun and action and big special effects. Unfortunately, it fails on almost all counts.

ID4 opened with a shot of an American flag – the one planted on The Moon by astronauts, as a point of reference for the passing spaceships about to attack Earth. The Day After Tomorrow opens with an American flag, with little or no obvious reason to do so; it’s just there, filling the screen, letting us all know up front that this is America we’re dealing with here, and we’d better stand up and take notice. This absurd first shot put me off right from the start. Why must they do this? Already I was wondering whether Emmerich was just going to follow his successful screenplay for ID4 to the letter, or whether he’d dare deviate? That kind of thinking does very little to allow the atmosphere of the film settle in.

What follows is a boring story with little sense. The hero spends half his time trying to convince his government (and therefore, us) that the end is nigh, and then the remainder of the film ignores his ‘scientific facts’ and washes away the whole plot. Sure, it would be difficult storywise to have the whole of mankind destroyed, but that is what we were sold so stridently, so why change it? It’s not like we can fight back against the weather with a computer virus like in ID4… how were these people supposed to change the outcome? And yet change it did. It struck me that the writers felt they had a good setup, but then couldn’t quite figure out how to complete the story, and so kept putting it off, until one day they were filming, and they still didn’t know how to conclude their big disaster, so they kinda just winged it. This film suffers massively from lack of direction.

The cast do a passable job – the usually excellent Jake Gyllenhaal is not terrible – but they are really given such awful scripting and direction, they couldn’t possibly come out of it with reputations enhanced. How they got out of bed in the morning knowing they had to film this stinker is beyond me.

There are moments of absolute laughability. Scenes when you know in your bones that something is being setup, and sure enough there it is later in the film, as you knew it would be. The ‘science’ is absurd. There are several examples of ‘science’ being stated and then broken – a cold front cooling things at more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit per second being outrun by a teenager pulling another teenager on a sled, when a Royal Marine helicopter couldn’t get away?? I was dumbfounded.

At least ID4 gave a passing nod to other cultures and continents by showing destruction and aliens in places other than the US. The Day After Tomorrow mentions Europe briefly, and Mexico as an escape route, but that’s really it. Somehow, in spite of the rest of the world’s population being destroyed, the sun breaks through over New York, and we should all be grateful? Give me a break.

This is a truly awful film, with very little to recommend it. The CGI is not terrible. That’s all.

Rating: 0.5 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 1st January 1970
Hoopla Factor: 0.5 stars

Shaun of the Dead