Natural disaster movies are showcases for state-of-the-art special effects and sensational plots, but can these films be taken seriously? After watching The Day After Tomorrow, the answer is still no, but that doesn’t stop mainstream actors from starring shamelessly in them.
Charleston Heston (Earthquake) did it; so did Tommy Lee Jones (Volcano), Helen Hunt (Twister) and Pierce Brosnan (Dante’s Peak). They all took their chances with Mother Nature and did not come out smelling like roses. As a matter of fact, all four of those films averaged only 5.5 out of 10 on IMDB.com, proving that tornadoes and volcanoes just don’t make the grade.
Those movies left viewers cold, and regrettably, The Day After Tomorrow will do the same, but not in the way the filmmakers intended.
Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a climatologist that does not have a very good relationship with his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhal), but gets a chance to make things better after a new ice age takes over the northern hemisphere and kills millions of people. There is nothing worse than good actors partaking in an awful plot, and that is exactly what The Day After Tomorrow offers. The film is just another natural-disaster disaster with big names gracing shiny posters.
Another aspect that The Day After Tomorrow shares with its untalented cousins is the astounding special effects. Just because the movie is a flop doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. It’s amazing to see Los Angeles get ravaged by tornadoes or New York City under ice, but unfortunately that doesn’t make a good movie; you need substance and not fluff.
As for the substance, the plot is just too unbelievable, and the lines are just too contrived. It is one of those movies where people next to you can predict lines before they are said because they are clichÃ©.
As is the case with the slew of aforementioned cookie-cutter natural disaster movies, the disaster in The Day After Tomorrow itself is that the plot isn’t enough; the film incorporates several subplots depicting people suffering through and surviving Mother Nature’s wrath. Too bad most of these subplots — including self-sacrifice for the good of others, a love story amidst chaos and wolves randomly attacking the survivors of the new ice age — will make audiences roll their eyes.
Several producers feel the need to make big-budget films that splurge on the special effects, and The Day After Tomorrow fits that bill, but director Roland Emmerich has been involved with better films. Emmerich is responsible for budget busters like Independence Day, Stargate and The Patriot.
The Day After Tomorrow surpasses expectations of the typical disaster-themed film, but most audiences come into these movies with low standards to begin with. Viewers standing outside multiplexes for tickets aren’t there for Oscar-caliber performances, but the best that computer-generated graphics have to offer.