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I kept thinking of two particular people while watching The Day After
Tomorrow, the latest disaster pic from the mildly talented (and possibly
mildly retarded) writer-director Roland Emmerich. I know Maynard James
Keenan would have loved the scenes where dozens of twisters annihilate Los
Angeles, flinging the Hollywood sign around like it was made of Alpha-Bits.
And how could you not give a shoutout to Travis Bickle after seeing the
overhead shots of Manhattan filling up with water when a huge storm surge
(up to Lady Liberty's C-cups) finally washes the scum off the streets for
Tomorrow is - if you go in expecting a silly premise, marginal acting and
good special effects - practically entertaining. It's the ultimate
check-your-brain-at-the-door kind of summer blockbuster, without pretending
to be much else. You know, the way summer blockbusters used to be back when
they didn 't piss us off by pretentiously talking about sequels, prequels,
videogames and television spin-offs before the film even opened (how's that
working out for you, Van Helsing?).
Tomorrow's disaster du jour is global warming, which, according to Jack Hall
(Dennis Quaid), could result in another ice age in the next 50 or 100 years.
Well, ol' Jack must have forgotten to carry a 1 or something, because the
weather starts getting pretty funky pretty quick. Before you know it, snow
is falling in India and they're getting meatloaf-sized hail in Thailand
(plan on getting whipped around to about a dozen different locations in the
first 20 minutes). Hall tries to warn the White House, but they're fixated
on other issues. When the shit really starts to hit the fan, the sniveling,
milquetoast President actually squeals, "What do we do?" to his no-nonsense
Veep. They may as well have made him say, "This storm packs the punch of a
whole bunch of nuk-ular weapons, and America should be on high alert for the
sneak attack of this cowardly weather event."
Then the effects come, threatening the majority of Tomorrow's cast, who are
spread about the country in typical disaster movie fashion. Hall's son Sam
(Jake Gyllenhaal, because whenever you see plane crashes and funnel clouds,
Donnie Darko can't be far away) is stranded in the New York Public Library
with the world's prettiest nerd (Songcatcher's Emmy Rossum), burning books
to keep warm. Yeah, books. Not tables, chairs, shelves, doors or molding.
This is after Emmerich drops the special effects bomb on the city again,
forcing us to watch New Yorkers being chased through lower Manhattan by a
giant wall of (pick your poison).
Once the effects die down in Tomorrow's second half, the film becomes
listless and almost boring. There are wolves, which makes this three films
in a row I've seen the lupine critters (Van Sucksing and Harry Potter 3).
There's a black homeless thief, which is a nice touch if you're wearing a
sheet and pillowcase to the theatre. But Tomorrow's biggest problem, at
least in terms of comparison to other disaster flicks, is that you can only
make the threat of falling temperatures so exciting. There's no asteroid to
nuke, or Slim Whitman records to play, and therefore no sense of victory
when the storm blows over. Despite this, Emmerich still tries to cram a
feel-good ending down your throat, despite the tens of millions of people
who just died (a la The Sum of All Fears). But the audience I saw Tomorrow
with didn't seem to care. They hooted and hollered when the first two
innocent victims of the storm were killed, politely applauded at the end,
climbed back into their SUVs and sped home.
2:04 - PG-13 for intense situations of peril
========== X-RAMR-ID: 37881 X-Language: en X-RT-ReviewID: 1284440 X-RT-TitleID: 1132625 X-RT-SourceID: 595 X-RT-AuthorID: 1146 X-RT-RatingText: 5/10
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