The Day After Tomorrow
Directed by Roland Emmerich; written by Mr. Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff, based on a story by Mr. Emmerich
by Sandra Smith
Stories of how humanity will eventually wipe itself off the face of the earth due to greed, lust, hate, ignorance, and violence (to name only a few of our less admirable characteristics) are archetypal and probably have been around as long as storytelling. Pandora's Box comes to mind as she (a woman, of course) let evil loose upon the world. Need I mention Sodom and Gomorrah or that Noah launched the ark to save a few chosen souls and a lot of animals because we didn't deserve to exist?
The Day After Tomorrow's antecedents run from mostly cheesy to a few interesting or thought provoking examples of movies worth watching. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) stands out from the killer mosquitoes, atomic ants and other critter movies from the fifties and sixties. Michael Rennie came to earth to warn us that we would not be allowed to bring wars and killing and violence into space. His killer robot, Gort, was going to blast our fannies out of existence if we didn't quickly mend our ways. Klaatu barada nicto were the words that redeemed us.
The original Planet of the Apes (1967) told us we didn't avoid nuclear annihilation and Charlton Heston found apes at the top of the evolutionary ladder. The Statue of Liberty lifting its arm from the sand was a powerful image used to get the message across that this was not our father's earth. That image has become cliché and The Day After Tomorrow also pays homage to it.
Global warming has become a fact quicker than anybody, including hero Jack Hall (Randy Quaid), could believe. A Cheney-like vice president refuses to believe anything could be that wrong or that the economy should be upset for a little weather or a small potential problem of the whole country dying. Nobody would listen to the hero until there was only time to try to lessen the damage and help a few survive. Jack drew a line across the US and said everybody above it would be flash frozen. Go south, he cried. Amusing aside, Mexico closed its borders to us for while, but then good hearts won out.
The plot is silly and stereotypical and the science wasn't credible. The dialog was worse.
There are much better movies than Day After Tomorrow. The real star is the weather special effects and they alone deserve an Academy Award nomination. I was more scared by the jaw-dropping, breathtaking effects than any horror movie in recent memory. Tornadoes whirling around Los Angeles, an ocean liner floating down a Manhattan street, New York Harbor quick freezing, doom and destruction across the Northern Hemisphere, and visuals from outer space with hurricanes covering the world must be seen on a large screen.
I would have hoped this movie might have reopened discussions about the real threat of global warning in spite of its silliness and what we are doing to our planet as we endlessly consume without thought or care for the future of our own children and grandchildren ... A few voices cry in the wilderness, but we are too busy to listen. As always, I believe that the truth lies between the two extremes and that most of us sit in the middle aware of it.
Why are we so unwilling or too lazy to do anything about it?