ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  roland emmerich

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  disaster

LENGTH  -  124 minutes

RELEASED  -  28 may 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  tomorrow

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $125,000,000
the day after tomorrow - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the day after tomorrow at

buy the dvd from the day after tomorrow at

a sudden ice age throws the world into turmoil and a climatologist is forced to trek through an icy new england winter to find his son.


poster from the day after tomorrow
buy the poster

the film's name bounced back and forth from its present title to simply, "tomorrow."


picture from the day after tomorrow

picture from the day after tomorrow

picture from the day after tomorrow

picture from the day after tomorrow


two out of four possible stars

Sporting campy humor and the sentiment of a 1970's style disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow is a curious relic that attempts to grab an audience's sympathies for the environment (in this case, over global warming) and exploit them on a bed of pretty hokey dialogue and some rather exceptional special effects. The characters in this film should continuously surprise you with phrases that, thirty years ago, would have been accompanied by a plethora of unconvincing special effects, but today have the opportunity to consort with quite an impressive array of cinematographic feats. Suffice it to say that without this film's special effects, the value of this picture would be considerably less.

It's evident that the reason the trailer for the film was composed almost entirely of dialogue-free special effects shots was because the dialogue wasn't created as the element that would draw potential viewers into the movie theater. Large scale, big-budget special effects litter this film and frame after frame of the picture is simply breathtaking. But then the characters have to go and speak. And for actors that can boast as much talent as the actors cast in this film do, it's a shame to have to see them utter such funny dialogue. And the words are literally that: funny.

When Dennis Quaid, who plays "Jack Hall," paleo-climatologist extraordinaire (say that three times fast!), describes his theory of the sudden onset of an ice age brought on by global warming, his dialogue is straight teacher-talk and sounds like it was lifted right out of a text-book. Although the film eventually goes into greater detail on Hall's theory (super-cooled hurricane-like storm cells that suck negative 150 degree air out of space and onto the surface of the planet), seeing the actual process of the storm progress is much more interesting than hearing the characters talk about it.

Perhaps if the characters said what they had to say in a more natural manner. But all too often the characters say something that's so over-the-top dramatic that you might do a virtual double-take at the words, wondering if there's a joke behind them somewhere or if a punch line is coming. It's difficult to badmouth a film that boasts such honorable intentions, but the dialogue is just too important to miss. This film truly could have been an incredible cinematic experience if some effort had been placed on creating more spontaneous dialogue rather than the bookish science definitions and melodramatic hemming and hawing.

Although the plot can't really be faulted (much of what happens in the film is fantastically unrealistic, but that is all but a natural aspect of a disaster film), one has to wonder about the few sub-plots that are seemingly dropped off the edge of the earth in the final act of the film. What in the world happens to Ian Holm's character? He plays a climatologist living in Scotland who confers with Quaid's character over the increasing weather insanity and about three-quarters of the way through the film, he just disappears. Since the film is a little over two hours in length, it's possible that the end of his story was dropped because of time constraints, but given his very effective performance, it's a wonder the editor decided to chop out one of the most natural actors in the film.

Jake Gyllenhaal, playing "Sam Hall," Jack's son, must contend with less impressive dialogue, however, and his performance is usually more effective in moments that have little dialogue or in scenes where action is the main purpose. Hollywood newcomer Arjay Smith, on the other hand, his handsome figure well-hidden in Dork Garb (glasses and nerd threads), probably has the best dialogue of the film simply because most of it is humorous in nature. It seems like whenever any of the characters try to engage in serious conversation, the whole film just goes hokey. Sometimes it just feels like the full title to this film should have been, The Day After Tomorrow Is Hokey. Because that's a word that will just fly through your head over and over again when you see this film.

So one must make the decision: are the special effects and good performances (they would be great performances if the dialogue was better suited to human speech) enough to keep you occupied for the length of the film? More often than not, the answer is yes. So committed is the director to environmental consciousness, that he paid for, out of his own pocket, $200,000 to make the production 'carbon-neutral' - the first of it's kind in Hollywood - meaning all the carbon dioxide emitted by the production was offset by the planting of trees and investments in renewable energy.

Roland Emmerich's intentions with this film are admirable and the message he presents in Tomorrow is one that everyone on the earth needs to hear, no matter if that message is bungled in some rather unbelievable plot happenings and dialogue that would be better suited to 1972. Unfortunately for Emmerich's good intentions, The Day After Tomorrow will never be considered high art or a realistic treatise on the dangers of global warming. It's an engaging pop-corn flick and an entertaining summer diversion that is visually impressive, but that never tugs hard enough on one's conscience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - 2005 - ninth symphony films - photographs 20th century fox 2004
home | archive | ratings | links | about | contact