Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From the Archives: Day After Tomorrow Review...

In January of 2004 I started my first website to vent on all things pop culture. I updated and ran this site for over 2 years posting occasional reviews and ramblings. After burning out on the website thing I took a 6 month break and did not renew my domain. Still needing some sort of outlet I started this blog in January of this year. Since I do not wish those reviews and posts to be lost, I thought I would begin posting them here. So this one is more for me than you, oh wait, this whole thing is more for me than you. Well, whatever the case, each week we shall take a look into the past, all the way back to (start Conan O'Brien impression here) the year 2000--uh--4.

With the summer coming to a close, I thought I'd take a look back at one of the summer tent pole movies of 2004 that didn't work. I have a deserved reputation as the guy that seems to love every movie that comes out, so I thought I'd present the case for the opposition. You may not even remember "The Day After Tomorrow", but when it came out 3 years ago it was supposed to be huge. Turns out, when you let your preachiness get in the way of your storytelling your movie suffers (lesson for "Christian filmakers", hmmm?) Here's the full review.


Storm Warning
("The Day After Tomorrow" PG-13)
(Monday Review 6/7/4)

WARNING: This review may cause drowsiness, please consult a physician before proceeding.

There are warnings on everything these days. A possible result of so many frivolous lawsuits, this cacophony of caution can be downright ridiculous. I don't need McDonalds to tell me not to pour hot coffee on my lap, and I don't need my steak knives labeled "Warning: Stabbing knife into body may cause pain."

Roland Emmerich's (Independence Day) new flick "The Day After Tomorrow" is one more useless warning label disguised as a big budget disaster movie. Emmerich never hides the fact that he made this movie to wake up all us polluters to the potential disaster awaiting us if we don't quit driving SUVs and using hairspray, but before I get too bogged down in ridiculing his environmentally extremist views, let's set the stage.

Government climatologist Jack Hall (played with unfortunate sincerity by Dennis Quaid) has discovered on a recent trip to the North Pole that large scale climate changes may be coming based on how falling ice chunks affect the temperature of our ocean currents. (That's about as scientific as it gets, friends) Before you can say "Chicken Little" the environment starts to retaliate for all those years of neglect by pummeling us with hail disguised as bowling balls, tornadoes in LA, and a wave that leaves people bobbing in the Big Apple. The rest of the story focuses on a son's struggle to survive (Jake Gyllenhaal does his best Tobey Macguire impersonation as Jack's son Sam.), a father's journey to find him, and a nation's regret for not recycling more.

Speaking of separating the usable stuff from the junk, let's break down the MCQ.

Message - The overall message is as clear as they come, we must work to protect our environment or we will destroy the planet someday. Now, I try to be as environmentally friendly as the next guy, (With gas prices this high, believe me, I'm beggin' for an alternative fuel source.) but this is way over the top. In fact, I've recently heard interviews from other environmentalists who hate this movie because they feel it undermines the seriousness of their cause. And as far as that goes there is no answer given in the film. We are never pointed in the direction of the culprit, and therefore are left with no practical application to keep mother nature from attacking. Having said all this, I actually think there are a few positive themes in this movie amongst the Earth Day sermons. First I really enjoyed the father/son aspect of the story. When in trouble the son finds a way to contact his dad knowing that this stuff is his cup o' tea. What he does with his father's instructions is key to what happens in the rest of the film, and the same is true in my life. My "Father" has all the answers and if I can just stay in touch with Him, what I do with His instructions will have an ultimate impact on my story. Along with this, the theme of warning others resonated deeply with me. In a very powerful scene (the highlight of the film for me), Sam (the son) tries to pass on the warning his father gave to him to hundreds of people who file past him. He knows that they are headed to their death if they don't listen, yet he can do nothing to stop them, and in the end only a handful pay attention. How can you make people listen? How can you make them believe? It not about who is right and who is wrong, it's about who lives and who dies. A powerful message, but only when you shift it to a more secure foundation.

Content - This is a light 13, I'm guessing it's mostly for the impact of so many deaths, though only a few are up close and personal and even then nothing is extremely graphic. There is very little innuendo or language making this a fairly pollution free movie overall.

Quality - There's no denying the effects in this movie are astonishing. I loved the sheer hugeness of it all, and there were plenty of times I found mouth agape in wonder. Once you wipe the drool from your chin (and armrest) though, there's not much else to cheer about. The acting is only satisfactory, the writing is glib, and the score is distracting. At least ID4 had Will Smith and Jeff Goldbloom to liven things up.

In the end you may find this an enjoyable flick, if for no other reason than the eye candy. But if you are looking for substance or greatness you won't find much of it here.

Remember, you've been warned.

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