The Day After Tomorrow (2004) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
1,167 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Clichéd, illogical, unscientific but the first hour really delivers even if the second hour is like the 1970's never happened
bob the moo31 May 2004
After years of warning about global warning, Jack Hall is horrified to find all his predictions coming true much faster than he could have imagined. Hail stones the size of footballs decimate cities, typhoons destroy Los Angeles and New York becomes flooded. As the big freeze crosses the northern hemisphere, a small group of survivors try to fend off the cold as the world prepares for a dramatic change in the world order.

This film may be a modern blockbuster but in almost everyway it is a 1970's disaster movie where an event happens after some build up and we then spend the rest of the film watching the survivors trying to, well, survive. In that regard the film carries all the usual problems that the genre carries but happily benefits from the fact that the effects are much better than 1970's movies could manage. For this reason the first hour is great – it has dramatic pace, is involving and looks fantastic even if we have seen it before in different variations (how many times has New York been destroyed now?). However after the sheer global terror is pretty much finished we suddenly become much more small scale and the film looses much of it's impact and it's pace. After the initial danger has passed the film uses illogical and silly plot devices to put the survivors at risk – a cold eye of a storm, blood infections, creeping ice and wolves are among the problems. While this is OK on a genre level it doesn't compare to the first hour and it gets a little dull and plodding at times.

The clichés are all present and correct: the politicians, the upright scientists, the sacrifice, the daring rescues and so on. It's fair to say that if you are looking for more than a basic script then you will be looking in the wrong place here. All this film does is to provide spectacle and moments of dramatic action – if you want to think about it then you will only hurt your enjoyment of the action. The film tries to deliver an environmental message but in a way this film will not help the environmental movement because it is too exaggerated to be taken seriously (like the idea of Celtic and Man Utd reaching the Champions League final – during this season? Please!), however it does include several surprisingly barbed attacks on the US administration (could the VP look any more like Cheney?). Just a shame that the film message is delivered with all the subtlety that Segal showed when he did something similar in his environmental action film On Deadly Ground.

The script doesn't really create characters either and it means we don't care that much about what happens to them in the final hour (countless millions are dead for goodness sake!). The dialogue in the first hour is nicely gruff and scientific and very genre but the second hour is more human and the lines aren't suited for that – not even in the hands of an impressive number of good actors. I like Quaid and he is a good lead here, he gets the good scientific stuff and only is lumbered with the rather silly notion of walking to New York from Washington. Gyllenhaal must have upset legions of cult fan boys by appearing in a big budget movie but he does OK with the role (despite looking too old to be in school). The rest of the cast are fairly mixed but, as with the genre, they are just filled even if some are good. Welsh is good even if he was cast for his similarity to Dick Cheney, Holm adds a small bit of dignity in his role as well as being supported by the very fine actor Lester in a minor role. Faces like Sanders, Mihok and a few others don't really matter as they are merely victims waiting for their turn to be used for dramatic effect.

Overall the first hour of this film is good on a blockbuster level, but it blows it's wad too early (don't ya hate it when that happens?!) and is left with a second hour that is right out of the 1970's with all the weaknesses that that entails. Generally I enjoyed the film because I was just expecting a big noisy movie to pass a few hours – bad script, no characters and lots of clichés? Why would I be surprised by that? It's par for the course and you should not watch this if you know these aspects will annoy you. As it is, it's an average film but one that is noisy and spectacular enough to pass muster in the summer blockbuster stakes.
255 out of 365 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel okay.
Victor Field6 June 2004
"The Day After Tomorrow" is a disaster movie, but it isn't a disastrous one. But if Roland Emmerich really thought he was making a movie with a message, he didn't quite succeed - to be honest, Emmerich is to serious film-making as Naomi Wolf is to recommending "Voluptuous" magazine. The fact that the movie begins with the Twentieth Century Fox logo under stormy skies doesn't make it any more significant.

Well-intentioned it may be, but the movie's plot takes second place to the imagery - the opening credits over an icy landscape, the massive weather systems over the planet, colossal hailstones pelting down on Tokyo, snowstorms over India, tidal waves - and the numerous effects houses make it an eye candy feast, especially for people with a grudge against the Big Apple (kudos to Industrial Light and Magic, Digital Domain and all the less renowned FX companies involved). So on that level, it works; the music by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker is also a bonus, being more restrained and serious in its support than is usually the way with Emmerich movies.

And then there's the script - it has a whole load of characters but doesn't do much with any of them. Example: Climatologist Dennis Quaid's relationship with son Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't seem to be as estranged as it's intended to be, and similarly the friendship Quaid has with a longtime colleague gets about as much emphasis as the crush his younger colleague has on fellow scientist Tamlyn Tomita (and the movie pays for it later on in a sequence shamelessly ripped off from "Vertical Limit," which has little of the emotional resonance it should). In fact, all the human elements - Gyllenhaal's repressed feelings for classmate Emmy Rossum, his doctor mother Sela Ward's problems with a young patient, etc - all of them are underdeveloped or just plain undeveloped, and some moments practically scream "Contrived Climax Ahoy!"

Those moments are there because "The Day After Tomorrow" doesn't have an enemy as a natural outgrowth of its story; the elements aren't really villainous as they have no concept of right or wrong, and the closest thing to a villain here is the current administration in the White House, so Emmerich and co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff have to impose a tangible enemy (why else are those wolves there?) on the proceedings. This does help things from getting totally boring in the second half, though it's still pretty watchable even then - but if some more thought had been put into the screenplay, like exploring the characters or developing the promising ideas therein (like Americans fleeing to Mexico, or further looks at the Government side), it would have carried more weight and made the movie into more than an improvement on "Godzilla."

As it is, it's a competently done if implausible attention-holder that wants to be more; that it actually had the potential to be more makes it a bit of a disappointment, but at least it's a watchable one.
142 out of 220 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Oh! The Weather Outside Is Frightful...
BaronBl00d24 December 2004
I really enjoyed this film by director Roland Emmerich a great deal. It is a fast-paced, exciting, suspenseful film filled with wonderful images, great CGI effects, plausible acting, and even a coherent script. How realistic is it? I hope not at all, but the director made the film so that it seems very real and like something that MIGHT happen. The story revolves around some major climatic shifts that cause the entire Northern hemisphere to become Artic tundra. New York City is devastated as are other major cities all over Europe. Dennis Quaid gives a good performance as a climatologist that predicted some of these events. We see things through his perspective and that of his son for much of the movie. The acting in general is good in this film. I particularly liked Ian Holm's role as the British meteorologist stuck in the middle of nowhere while these changes advanced. Much of the credit for the film's success must go to Emmerich. This is easily one of his best films. He keeps his viewer on the edge of his/her seat through the entire film. Action is the film's primary objective, but Emmerich also uses a lot of humanity in what his character's motivations are, and I for one, enjoyed seeing that side of humanity rather than what I probably would see under similar circumstances. As a previous viewer noted, this is a great popcorn movie!
181 out of 294 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I could write a better story by "The Day After Tomorrow"
TheSteak0022 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is TYPICAL Hollywood. And by that I mean it's all glitz and glamour without any substance. Don't get me wrong… the special effects are great (although weather effects are easy to pull off at this point). But the movie has no point what so ever!!! Whatever little plot there is, is terrible.


OK, basically it goes like this… Big storm comes, and spreads around the world in a matter of days threatening humanity with the 2nd ice age. Storms destroy all the big cities, blah blah blah… Since the movie follows Sam Hall (Jake Gyllenhaal) most of it is set in New York. So NY gets hit with tidal waves, and then it all freezes over and then you have everyone stuck in the NY public library. Not bad so far… but that's it. Jack Hall, Sam's father is some kind of weather expert specializing in Alaska and global warming so he predicts this whole storm. So when he finds out that his son is trapped in NY he WALKS (drives to Philadelphia and then walks the rest of the way) from Washington D.C. to NY in like two days (All during this 2nd ICE AGE!!!!). No trying to stop the storm or anything… he just WALKS. He's not even trying to save his son because he can't… he just walks hundreds of miles to meet his son. That's it.

Oh yeah, and during the middle of the movie the kids trapped in the library in NY must venture out in the 'STORM' for medicine… and as luck would have it (or Hollywood overkill) they're attacked by a pack of wolves that escaped from the zoo. And the wolves look TERRIBLE. The special effects for the weather are easy so that all looks great… but these wolves looked horrible. Like these kids were being attacked by cartoon rejects from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'

They just made this movie cause they could make the effects... there was no thought put into anything else other than the effects. I've seen porno's with better story lines.
92 out of 146 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ridiculous Story, But Fun To Watch
ccthemovieman-15 October 2006
I was leery of a heavy propaganda piece on "global warming," but I still saw this and found that, yeah that's what it was but it was really more of just a straight adventure story than anything else.....and not a bad one, at that. The first 50 minutes of this two-hour film have the "fun parts" where the special-effects dominate. We see all kinds of radical weather disasters that are extremely dramatic and entertaining to watch, even if they don't make a bit of sense.

After the blizzard and sub-zero, unlivable weather conditions arrive the movie settles down to a young romance and survival story with Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Rossum and other people trapped in a library in New York City and Jake's father, played by Dennis Quaid, walking all the way from Philadelphia to rescue him. Yes, it's very, very far-fetched - the whole thing - but it's a fun adventure story with nice people. It's especially refreshing to see Hollywood portray a father as being so loving and selfless. The romance wasn't overdone and the young people were not profane and/or annoying, as so often is the case.

Except for the over-exaggerated and extremely erroneous scare tactics of this movie, and a ridiculous portrayal of the Vice Preseint of the United States, the movie works strictly as an entertaining fantasy-adventure story.
90 out of 147 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Flash, Glamour, and Faulty Science
Scott Keiser18 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As an atmospheric scientist I was intrigued to see this movie. The basic premise of this movie is based on the idea of anthropogenically induced (human) global warming resulting in a catastrophic set of weather events that in a matter of a week will plunge the Earth into its next ice age.

This movie above all else is a fictional, over exaggerated drama of well done special effects, poor acting, the most basic and mundane of plots, and a romance between two characters trapped in the New York Public Library. The main theme of the plot is a a classical man v. nature struggle with a father trying to rescue his son and several friends after a climate changing storm that left behind meters of snow and ice, a group of friends who struggle to survive in New York during and after the storm, and the romance that develops in which the girl becomes ill because of an injury.

As an atmospheric scientist I was very disappointed. Their are very few scientific truths in this movie. This movie came out in response to a surge in global warming alarmism and portrays the cause quite well in that it is completely over exaggerated, is primarily a political tool, utilizes faulty science to scare people, and is all flash with no meaningful substance.

While not the worst movie of all time it is very close to the bottom.

Summary: The acting and plot are poor. The science in the movie like that behind global warming alarmism is highly flawed. The only thing that saves this movie is its special effects.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the worst movies of all time.
spmckain20 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The folks who actually like this movie are the reason Hollywood makes very few quality movies any more. If you don't care then why should they? This movie is so bad from the beginning. Numerous tornadoes pummeling a West Coast city and there are actually people flying in helicopters to get a closer look. That's a brainy idea. Buildings freezing and crumbling yet the people outside don't seem to be affected so much. The "walk" from Philadelphia to New York? And in record time no less. I do like the fact that they had the foresight to have Antarctic weather gear handy for just these occasions. What of the tent that was able to withstand the chill but not the Empire State building? Call your local Army Navy store....they really need to stock these tents. I also found it amazing that any lines of communications were not really affected, including the under freezing water pay phone. The only ones who had communications losses were, of course, the main characters.....ah drama!! I know they were in a library but you think they could have possibly tried to burn all the wooden tables and chairs around them? Seems that they would burn warmer and for longer than books. The acting was horrific, the directing was terrible, the script was unbelievably bad and the special effects were anything but special. It certainly rates up there with Godzilla 2000 and actually makes Independence Day look like one of the all time greats!
193 out of 335 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Make it stop!!!
S. J. Lewis15 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, this wasn't as mind-numbing as "Alexander", and I did see it only on cable...but the whole time I was watching it I felt uncomfortable, as if I was looking at a really bad multiple-vehicle collision with lots of injuries. You know you shouldn't, but some morbid part of you won't let you turn away...

As for the plot...Global Warming can lead to another Ice Age. This is bad enough, like saying that setting fire to your house will help to keep your beer cold, but in this movie the Ice Age takes only fifteen or twenty minutes to get started. You no sooner set a match to the gasoline-soaked drapes than the entire house is encased in ice. Oh yes, and you are being hunted by wolves who escaped from the city zoo. These are the only animals that escaped from the zoo, and as the snow got deeper and the temperatures lower, they didn't have the sense to head South while they could.

I really doubt that there could be such a thing as the snow super-hurricanes as depicted in the movie, but these were the chosen special-effects-ex-machina to jump start the glaciers. A hurricane is a heat engine, driven by the accumulated warmth of the sun on tropical waters. What drives a super-snowcane? The answer to that one is easy: A bad writer's overheated imagination. We get not one, but three of these things, all appearing overnight and sweeping down from the North Pole simultaneously. The one that hits New York also generates a storm surge.

A real hurricane's storm surge is a dome of water under the eye of the storm. It's there because the air pressure in the eye is much lower than anywhere else. A storm surge might go eight to ten feet for a big hurricane. The super-snowcane generates a surge high enough to slap the face of the Statue of Liberty and submerge Manhattan. It comes in from the east (The supercane winds would be pushing all the water the other way) and arrives several minutes...sorry, hours...or maybe days...before the eye of the storm does. The pacing in this movie is astonishing whenever it isn't simply unbelievable. I think the passage of time was sped up in order to cram as many really cool, nay, chillin', special effects into two hours as possible.

The storm surge then does not leave. No, it stays in Manhattan, enjoying Times Square, the Guggenheim and all the other cultural attractions for a while. Gravity cannot pull it away, or perhaps the ecology is so unsettled that water can no longer flow downhill. A Russian supertanker joins in as another sightseer and then it all freezes solid. Sea water can apparently freeze in minutes.

The New York supercane is monitored from space. The other two, ravaging Europe and Siberia, are apparently less interesting. At one point, we are told that the temperatures at the eye of the supercane are dropping by ten degrees per second. Now, it doesn't matter if the degrees are Fahrenheit or Centigrade. In less than a minute, this storm will be freezing the air itself solid, but this doesn't happen. Apparently the CGI budget could only go so far.

This unprecedented disaster forces the evacuation of the entire US. No mention is made of what happened to the Canadians. In fact, I don't think any mention at all is made of the Canadians. Maybe to them it was just a chilly Spring, eh? Mexico, on the other hand, is mentioned a couple of times, since all 300 million Americans seem to be trying to get there. Just how they get there is as unmentioned as the Canadians, since early on we are told that neither planes nor trains can operate in the weather. Could SUVs?

At the end of the movie, we are treated to a sermon about how We Should Respect Nature More, and Not Exploit Our Precious Resources. There's also a humble obesiance to all the Third World countries who so charitably took us all in. Got that? The US has been destroyed by its own arrogance, and maybe now we'll appreciate subsistence farming and outdoor plumbing a lot more.

The special effects were impressive, but they followed each other so quickly and bewilderingly that it was a lot like being punched repeatedly in the head by Mike Tyson. Some of the special effects shots were views from a space station. At the end of the movie, we see that this was an Ice Age to top all Ice Ages. The snow and glaciers reach all the way down to the Rio Grande. They stop there, though. Apparently Mexico wouldn't let them in. But...During the last Ice Age, which only reached as far South as Chicago, the sea level was a couple of hundred feet lower than it is today. In spite of glaciers now occupying Phoenix, San Diego and Orlando, in THIS movie, the sea level hasn't changed at all and the coastlines are exactly the same as they were the day before yesterday.
37 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Completely predictable, sadly lacking, and fatally flawed.. (some SPOILERS)
darren-1422 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Well for me this film wasn't one I was looking forward to, initially when I saw the adverts I thought I wanted to see it, but after reading some blurb about it I was concerned that it was going to turn into the usual Hollywood 'adventure' drivel...Sadly my thoughts came true.

I thought the movie started well, all the science seemed to be dealt with in a good and sensible fashion, and you do feel a sense of impending doom. The early disaster effects are typically top notch, although I felt a huge chunk of ice falling on someone's head would have made them bleed! And strangely for a Hollywood movie they didn't depict their administration as being infallible, which made me think maybe I was wrong to prejudge the film.

Sadly, things then deteriorate into the typical Hollywood fare. The hero does everything you'd expect, in the way you'd expect. The good old stiff upper lipped Brits perform their background tasks and do the usual (i.e. Die in a research bunker that turns out to have less stocks of the essentials than a New York library (where can I buy a vending machine that provides sustenance for 6 or 7 people and a dog for a week or more?)).

When the 'hero' becomes all heroic the major mistakes become evident. We've all touched something ice cold and had our skin stick to it, so surely someone holding onto to frozen metal with blood oozing out of their hands would suffer a similar fate (especially considering how cold it's alleged to be!). They also seem quick to remove their facial protection, without a care in the World.

The other thing that makes you go uhmmm is that the temperature at one point is supposedly dropping at a rate of -10 degrees every SECOND, yet it clearly takes the hero, and his son and friends for that matter, well over 10 seconds to get to safety. This despite earlier in the film someone in similar circumstances freezing on the spot in less than 3 seconds! (oh and it was also cold enough to freeze aviation fuel, but obviously American film stars have more in their veins than everyone else!? )

The temperature drops so fast that all the windows shatter, uhmm except of course on the building where the stars are! (either that or their room would have literally been snowed under, like the rest of New York!). Added to the fact that their chimney seems to work despite being blocked by snow and ice, surely if they hadn't frozen to death due to having no windows, they'd have choked to death on the smoke flooding their room since it had nowhere to escape to (this can be seen near the end because the hero can't even tell that he's reached his destination, and you certainly can't see any smoke coming from where the chimney should be!).

Oh and to cap it all, once the hero finds his son (bet you never thought he'd do it..YAWN!) the sun miraculously appears, as do hundreds of survivors! (can anyone tell me how they'd survived in skyscrapers that had no windows, and had been ravaged by tsunamis earlier int he film!??!)

All in all I found myself wishing that it had been an English film, for then some reality may have been preserved.

Sadly this film completely loses the plot half way through and all credibility goes out of the window.
61 out of 99 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews