This summer looks surprisingly filled with a lot of dramas and possible Oscar contenders, instead of all mindless action flicks. But the summer hasn't gotten off to the best start this month, with the likely "flops", financially speaking, of Van Helsing and Troy. Yeah, Shrek 2 will earn the GNP of Europe, probably, but there was very high expectations for the first two movies that weren't fully realized. The Day After Tomorrow a.k.a umm Sunday, could've only been realeased during the summer months, because I don't think writer-director Roland Emmerich could possibly have any of his movies be released in any other season. His style seems perfectly suited for summer, all style and little substance. And he remains to this style in The Day After Tomorrow, a movie that did show some potential, but wasn't fully realized as well.
This movie does have a fairly large budget ($125 million) but what I liked about it is they really didn't let the effects take over the whole movie, and they weren't self-serving and didn't have that "look what I can do with CGI" sort of feel to it. The effects were crucial to the movie, and they were absolutely magnificent, but they really didn't center the whole movie around them. The images of New York City enduring massive floods and snowstorms are visually wonderful, and they set the scene for the chaos very nicely. I liked that they had more focus on the story, but the story just wasn't enough to hold up. Basically, they used the story as the backbone for the effects, like it should be. But the story just wasn't strong enough.
I won't even talk about the how the story is insanely unrealistic...in the given period of time the movie takes place in, that is. These events that were set in motion were sped up for dramatic effect, and while there were probably ways to have it over a longer span of time, it wouldn't have played as well. But Emmerich uses almost the exact same setup for the story as his Independence Day, and his main character here, Dennis Quaid, mirrors Jeff Goldblum's character in ID4 as well. He throws some new elements into the mix, though, with Quaid trying to redeem himself to his son (Gyllenhaal) instead of Goldblum trying to win back his ex-wife in ID4. And he throws in a little budding romance with Gylenhaal and Emmy Rossum (Mystic River). But he has the same doubting "bad guy" here, the Vice President instead of the Secretary of Defense. It feels like he just took a look at his ID4 script, and re-wrote it with a different premise and a few different characters.
The acting, though, is fairly strong, with some nice performances from the always-solid Quaid, Gyllenhaal, and equally-nice performances from Rossum, Ian Holm, Sela Ward and Dash Mihok. But this guy who played a bum gave probably the best performance. I don't know his name, because, well, I don't think they ever said it in the movie, and the cast list on IMDB is incredibly long. He just seemed the most authentic, and while the rest gave decent performances, I've definitely seen better performances from the actors previously mentioned.
Emmerich got some help on his script, in Jeffrey Nachmanoff, but his only other writing credit is for some flick called The Big Gig. It seemed like the help worked some, because the dialogue wasn't as cheesy as Emmerich's other works, with some funny bits worked in as well. But there were a few parts that were just unnecessary, most notably, this part where wolves are chasing them. Yes, wolves. As if the characters didn't have enough to endure in weather that would supposedly kill them if they went outside, but they had some wolves chasing them. I just had to laugh, it was so retarded. And after this huge setup about a new Ice Age, it ends about as improbably as it started. I thought, barring some miracle, it would surely be a non-Hollywood ending, because of how they had it set up. But, alas, it wasn't, and I think the movie would've been more effective if it didn't end as abruptly as it started. They even could've probably milked a sequel out of this, if they played their cards differently, but I guess that's a good thing that they didn't.
All story flaws aside, Emmerich does a fine job at the helm here, using the effects as perfectly as possible, and, even though I thought he could've got more out of his talent, he still did a nice job with them. He definitely knows how to make a visually stunning movie, but I still wonder about his disaster themes in Los Angeles. This was the second movie where we see the Capitol Records building destroyed. Ulterior motive? Disgruntled ex-employee? Who knows...
The Day After Tomorrow is a movie about survival against all odds. The title is dumb, the effects are wonderful and the rest is simply average. The tagline for this flick is "Where will you be?" Where will I be, the day after tomorrow? Not seing this again...