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  The Day After Tomorrow : Apocalypse now
« le: 27 Mai 2004 - 14:29:49 » par Mathieu
Posted on Thu, May. 27, 2004
Apocalypse now

Outlook is cloudy for 'Day After'



It's the day after tomorrow, and the weather has just been hell.

Actually, it's been apocalyptic.

There's a blizzard in India. Hail the size of softballs in Japan. A tidal wave headed for Manhattan.

And it's only going to get worse.

At least, that's the weather forecast in Roland Emmerich's "The Day After Tomorrow," a bit of eco-fiction that warns that global warming has become so bad it's about to bring on a new ice age.

The exact "how" of that paradox is a little confusing - even with scientists Dennis Quaid and Ian Holm delivering pages of expository dialogue. Apparently, though, this great thaw is melting the polar ice caps, which are then changing the salinity of the Atlantic Ocean, which is then re-directing the Gulf Stream, which is then...

Oh, what do you care?

If you're one of those dedicated environmentalists busy handing out leaflets by the theater, OK, undoubtedly quite a bit. If, however, you're a typical summer moviegoer, what you probably really care about is how much you're going to enjoy watching "The Day After Tomorrow." Will you leave the theater happy you bought a ticket?

The outlook is cloudy.

As a purely visual spectacle, "The Day After Tomorrow" has its rewards. There's an icequake in the Arctic and tornadoes in Los Angeles. In the film's most elaborate - and unsettling - sequence, most of Manhattan is flooded. These are all intricate, intense and admittedly crowd-pleasing special effects (although it still seems too soon after Sept. 11 to be destroying New York landmarks for pop entertainment).

As an even vaguely plausible bit of science fiction, though, the movie is slightly more problematic. Although our hot-shot scientist hero first says the scenario might unfold over 100 years - even 1,000 - in the script it seems to take less than a week. ("OK, I was wrong," he admits testily.) The disasters aren't just cataclysmic but practically instantaneous, with the ice age literally chasing our heroes down the block.

As a drama - well, the picture's a mess, crammed full of disaster-movie cliches and cardboard characters. At one point, the D.C.-based Quaid decides he's got to see his son in New York - even though most of the area between seems to be under a glacier. "Jack, you can't walk to New York!" an old friend reasonably informs him. "I've walked that far before in the snow," Quaid answers.

And then, of course, he does.

Some of this is kind of amusing, in a bad-movie kind of way. (And certainly worth a smirk is the way that every television in this Fox movie seems to be perpetually tuned to Fox News.) But there's precious little real humor, and Emmerich directs the life out of almost every scene he touches.

That may seem surprising, at first - how could an end-of-the-world movie not be dramatic? But the problem is, we're told early on that this climatic change is inevitable and that there's nothing the scientists can do but sit, and observe, and wait for the end. And so there's nothing for us to do but join them.

Other apocalypse-now movies - like the gritty little British oldie "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" - found conflict in character (and even dared to end ambiguously). But "The Day After Tomorrow" only has tired subplots about Quaid's bad marriage and son Jake Gyllenhaal's awkward high school romance, or stock ensemble-movie characters like a brave sick kid and a funny homeless man.

And, of course, endless scenes of Ian Holm and Dennis Quaid trading data on the phone.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Holm clucks, as temperatures continue to plummet.

"At least not in the last 10,000 years," Quaid corrects him.

That may be, but things like "The Day After Tomorrow" happen all the time. In fact, they happen every summer. Sometimes they're called "Twister." Sometimes they're called "Dante's Peak." And all they ever clearly signal is the arrival of the warm-weather, dumb-movie entertainment season - and a long three months to come.


'The Day After Tomorrow'

Rated: PG-13



Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ian Holm

Screens: Cinemark, Hardy Court, Imperial Palace

(Rated PG-13. The film contains some strong violence.)


"THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW" It's the end of the world as we know it, as global warming somehow triggers an instant ice age, flash-freezing most of the Northern Hemisphere. Jake Gyllenhaal is among the shivering; Dennis Quaid, as his scientist dad, is among those trying to figure out what to do next. Mindless eye-candy. The film contains strong violence. Rated: PG-13. Running time: 124 minutes. TWO STARS


(Stephen Whitty is film critic for The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. He can be contacted at swhitty@starledger.com.)

Day After,


Google Search: twister

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