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In this pulse-pounding action-thriller, global warming triggers the onset of a new Ice Age. As tornadoes flatten Los Angeles, a tidal wave engulfs New York City and the entire Northern Hemisphere begins to freeze solid. Now, climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a small band of survivors must ride out the growing superstorm and stay alive in the face of an enemy more powerful and relentless than any they've ever encountered: Mother Nature!
With THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, director Roland Emmerich (INDEPENDENCE DAY, GODZILLA) trades evil aliens and radioactive lizards in for some seriously bad weather. When a radical change in the temperature of the world's oceans causes deadly storms and sets a new Ice Age in motion, climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) must race from Washington D.C. to save his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), in the subzero climes of New York City. Elsewhere, tornadoes and hail menace the globe, leading to international disasters on an extraordinary level.^Emmerich, who has proven to be a master of big-budget cinematic destruction on numerous occasions, aims to outdo himself with THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Here entire cities are ripped apart, flooded, and/or frozen, adding up to one of the biggest disaster movies ever filmed. Although astonishingly rendered special effects rule the movie, adept actors such as Quaid and Gyllenhaal (along with Sela Ward, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, and others) turn in solid performances that help to balance out the meteorological mayhem. Surprisingly, Emmerich also uses the film as a vehicle for clever moments of social and political commentary, making THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW admirably smarter and considerably more entertaining than typical Hollywood blockbusters.
"[A]ll of Manhattan is flooded, then frozen. Neat!" 06/04/2004 p.54-5
"A throwback to the disaster movies of the '70s, this is cinema as pure spectacle....It's the kind of movie popcorn was invented for." 07/01/2004 p.132
Sight and Sound
"[T]he onset of this ice age is thoroughly cinematic." 07/01/2004 p.48
British Academy Awards, Karen E. Goulekas, et. al., Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects,MTV Award, The Day After Tomorrow, Best Action Sequence
MTV Award, Emmy Rossum, Breakthrough Female
The Day After Tomorrow, an ode to an apocalyptic endgame of global warming, is an old-fashioned disaster film with modern-day special effects. It's cheesy and over-the-top, but the disaster sequences are well crafted and some of the formulaic action sequences generate tension. The Day After Tomorrow stands a rung above Independence Day (which self-destructed in its final third) and significantly more than that above the turgid Godzilla remake...despite the "bad science," the pro-environment message shines through. Like Super Size Me, consider it a cautionary tale. Nevertheless, Emmerich's point with The Day After Tomorrow isn't to play politics or make speeches, but to entertain...The Day After Tomorrow is filled with bad dialogue, stock peril situations, and sketchy character development, but it's a big enough spectacle that those things don't derail the film's capacity to be enjoyed.
It is such a relief to hear the music swell up at the end of a Roland Emmerich movie, its restorative power giving us new hope. Billions of people may have died, but at least the major characters have survived. Los Angeles was wiped out by flying saucers in Emmerich's "Independence Day," New York was assaulted in his "Godzilla," and now, in "The Day After Tomorrow," Emmerich outdoes himself: Los Angeles is leveled by multiple tornados, New York is buried under ice and snow, the United Kingdom is flash-frozen, and lots of the Northern Hemisphere is wiped out for good measure...So, yes, the movie is profoundly silly. What surprised me is that it's also very scary. The special effects are on such an awesome scale that the movie works despite its cornball plotting..."The Day After Tomorrow" is ridiculous, yes, but sublimely ridiculous -- and the special effects are stupendous.
Fox Home Entertainment
Ella Taylor, LA Weekly
...highly entertaining...could turn the most meteorologically challenged among us into Weather Channel freaks.