Review: Day After Tomorrow

Day After Tomorrow

Day After Tomorrow

Image used under Fair Use rules for a critical review.

OK, it’s well after the movie came out and I’m sure everyone who ever wanted to watch it has seen it. But … It was on FX and the trading day was nothing much to crow about, so I turned it on. After all, I’ve already bought the ‘package’ so they will not make any more or less money if I do or don’t watch it. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what it was about.

First off, I didn’t see all of it. Things happen. Packages get delivered. Phone rings. The fact is, it just wasn’t compelling enough to make those things into issues that needed to be interrupted for the movie.

Scattered Plot

This show tries to be a combined morality play and catastrophe flick. It succeeds at being a catastrophe… By some very dodgy circumlocutions it manages to have a freezing arctic result from “Global Warming”. “What?” you say? Yeah, me too. Somehow the notion of melting Arctic ice diluting the Atlantic and slowing the Gulf Stream, thus cooling Europe, gets turned into a freezing Arctic with ice forming everywhere and the whole world freezing. But it’s our fault.

Several lead-in disasters happen around the world with cities destroyed. Tokyo goes in a manner in keeping with the quality and believability of the Mothra movies, for example.

Some “long time” is spent in pointless hand wringing and evacuation of Some Folks from the USA to Mexico. (Why not Texas or Arizona, you ask? Why because we MUST have a morality play where the Norte Americanos are in need of open borders to Mexico in our Time Of Need…) Exactly HOW one mounts an effective evacuation of even a few hundred folks in a day or so is not addressed, how you deal with a few hundred million is simply ignored… But the Global Giant Storms only give a couple of days… Yet FEMA is shown On The Job in Mexico handing out care packages…

Strangely, the Giant Storms are neatly centered over the developed western centers. North America, Europe, Asia in the China / Japan / Korea belt. Neatly leaving alone the ‘unguilty’ People Of Color in Mexico, South America, Africa… Not their fault, after all… That the storms are completely unphysical and unsupportable by any known physics is, er, not their problem…

Then they start throwing in all the FX they can. Giant “Storm Surge” of a hundred feet or so swamps NY City. Then it somehow all freezes. Then snow piles up dozens (hundreds?) of feet thick overnight. Someone has an infected leg (that they didn’t notice for several days) that causes a medical crisis so folks run off to The Ship. What ship? Oh, well between the Tidal Wave Storm Surge and the Sudden Ice Age, a ship floats into downtown New York City… neatly upright and unbroken. Then just stops to be frozen in place. Complete with a store of the antibiotics needed to save the girls leg…

Of course, on the way to The Ship to get the suddenly needed Antibiotics, a pack of wolves appear in downtown New York City. Wolves? Yes, wolves… One presumes they rode in with the snow from Canada and didn’t have to walk all that way in a blizzard so cold it kills anyone out in it… But they are hungry, and familiar with ships ladders, so they board the ship and arrange for a tense ‘man vs wolf’ battle…. Why? Don’t ask why… down that path lies insanity and ruin…

The whole flick is made of that kind of non-sequitur of out of place characters, out of place events, and out of place storyline. No two thoughts can be logically connected with each other as the story turns from one Bad Dream Sound Bite to another.

Oh, and there is a gratuitous Library Scene where they are burning books to stay alive along with moralizing about the destruction of the foundation of civilization. Never mind all the wooden furniture that would make a far better fire than books with ‘clay sizing’ in the paper that doesn’t burn worth a damn. Not even the pulp news print that will burn OK if you try hard enough. No, straight to the classics….

The movie is one long dismal doom saying after another with periodic nagging about the evils of being Modern Technological Man.

In the end, there is a brief attempt at a positive spin. The clouds clear (suddenly in a couple of hours continent scale storms just evaporate…) and the folks trapped in the Library are rescued (modulo a sub plot about 2 guys trudging a few hundred miles in killer cold to reach them… Dad finds Kid and all. Trite, and mindless. But everyone gets to emote some more.) Then in the end, the storms clear and The President of the USA (In Mexico) makes a media address to The USA (despite no one able to hear it) in which he is a supplicant to the hospitality of The Third World without whom we’d all be dead (that is, us Evil First Worlders who wrought all this Kaos…)

Cue scene of military helicopters rescuing folks from rooftops all over New York City skyscrapers. Never mind that everything between there and Mexico is one large snow field and with no fuel / landing areas the helicopters wouldn’t make it… It’s a brand new day, you see, and we’ve all learned our lesson… This after having had several scenes that basically said “Their all dead, Jim”…

Over Emotive

This turkey is just dripping with folks emoting heavily at every turn. Deep Dirge music accompanies most of the movie as ill befalls us all. Stern looks. Sad looks. Fearful looks. DEEP Shameful looks. EMOTE DAMN IT! I can hear the director screaming at the actors.

Not exactly what you want in a good performance….

Great movies have just the right mix of alternating happy and sad moments. Emotions in sync with the reality of the moment. Pushing ever further in a fugue like manner as the emotions alternate voice and deepen in timbre… Not here. It’s full on loud Rock And ROLL baby! All Metal ALL the TIME! Yeah, for a few seconds now and then something nice will happen, but it’s gone before you can savor it. Then it’s right back to Disaster 101… and Guilt Trip 202A.

I’d get bored, and go check the stock channel to see if anything was happening. One time made the bed. Decided to make some tea. Yeah, it was that compelling… Like watching a group of folks all in therapy together. Or a bunch of whiny kids at camp trying to figure out how to put up a tent in the cold and dark without reading the directions (but less fun).

Poor Technicals

No, not the FX. Special Effects were relatively well executed. Not stunning, but pretty good. I’m talking about the quality of the technical consulting and / or the ability of the director to listen to the technical consultant…

Probably my biggest gripe. (What, you thought the above stuff was a big gripe? ;-)

I’m sorry, but for a movie to “work” for me, I’ve got be able to make that leap to ‘willing suspension of disbelief” and that means nothing so glaring as to make me say “What Crap!”.

So we have a scene where the continental sized storm is covering North America and suddenly the 50 mile wide ‘eye’ passes over NYC. What happens then? A giant descending mass of Liquid Nitrogen Temperatures. Why? Because it gives good FX, of course, and the folks can practice their looks of panic and fear… A ‘line of frozen’ descends building and causes windows to break and flags to freeze in mid flutter. But with no turbulence and no need to worry about specific heat. A gram of air can freeze a ton of steel and glass, don’t you now… People freeze to death in mere moments, unless they make a dramatic run for cover. One Small Problem. They show the wind stopping so this can happen… Exactly HOW does a heavy super cold wind move with no wind? And how does super cold air cause hundreds of pounds of ice to form on buildings from super dry source air? And how does it freeze flesh instantly if you are caught in it when it’s just air? All that without even getting in to esoterica like how does air descend from 50,000 feet and not have adiabatic heating…

Then there is the Space Station, that is shown tumbling through space when it doesn’t tumble, and abruptly stopping the tumble in a manner that would tear it apart, but with no thruster exhaust. Oh, and one time it’s at 100 miles up, another at what looks like 400 miles or so perspective. Then at the end, we get a view out the window from about Geosync. Sigh. Clearly no technical consultant was used…

All through the movie very unphysical things are done or need doing. They break into the infirmary of the ship through an outside window after finding the door locked. Never mind that the lock on the door would yield to a good body slam or front thrust kick. TONS of water freeze in place in hours or minutes, not the weeks it would take. North Atlantic storm surge surges in, but never drains back out. 100 foot waves crash through the coastline, but a ship just drifts in afterward unharmed, but with the crew all gone (somehow… but it’s a Russian ship and you can’t trust them to stay on their ship in movies. They always disappear… )

Oh, and a wall of water flows past the Statue of Liberty at about armpit hight, but doesn’t knock it down… I guess they didn’t know it’s thin brass plate and kind of creaky to the point where you couldn’t go up in to the arm any more prior to repairs… But that does set up a nice Planet Of The Apes moment at the end where you get to see it surrounded by ice and snow waste deep, and with 500 foot long ships with their noses on the bottom and butts in the air next to it. Waves can semi-sink ships, you see, while not touching the Statue Of Liberty. It’s needed for a plot gimmick after all…

The whole movie is like that. Folks desperately needing food, but not bothering to mention that a city with most of the people dead or gone has loads of food stashed all over it. The “catastrophe” hits so fast they can’t have eaten it all… Freezing to death and burning books to stay warm in a giant fireplace, but not bothering to crumple paper and put it in their clothes for insulation. Snow drifts filling the insides of buildings to 20 feet deep, even though they are often closed rooms.

Just one long non-sequitur after another and one long non-physical event after another and one long confusion about how reality works. Painful if you ‘have clue’ about such things. One presumes the folks who wrote it are sans clue in that regard…

In the end, I’m sort of glad I sort of watched it. At least now I know what it’s about. And know I’ll never need to buy the DVD or rent it just to satisfy curiosity. I also know that anyone who points to it as a scenario of doom in our time from AGW induced freezing is severely mentally disarmed and deserves help and pity.

No, it was no worse than any other B Grade Disaster Film (or maybe C grade). But at least in films like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “Blood Rust”, you know it’s complete crap and fantasy and can just get a bit drunk, eat chips, and have a laugh at it… This movie is a Message Movie, and some folks will think it has some meaning in it… My suggestion is that it’s probably best seen stoned on a good grade of weed, like the authors and makers must have been when they made it…

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events, Human Interest and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Review: Day After Tomorrow

  1. DirkH says:

    Watched it with the kids a few years back. The kids (about 10 yr old at the time or so) really liked it. Roland Emmerich never lets physics or logic get in the way of film-making. He’s consequential in that respect ;-)

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel says: I think this is the hypothesis on how an ice age can start from global warming lol

    Though I can’t see any evidence of this yet, since most of the warmings over the last 15,000 years have been warmer, even the Medieval warming was cooling then the cool part of the Minoan warming

  3. Jerry Franke says:

    You covered most of the absurdities in the movie but I think you missed a big one.

    What struck me as particularly ridiculous was the depiction of the massive storms as hurricane-like with a central calm eye. Well, they had the characters inside the eye with the eyewall coming towards them – when it hit, the temperature dropped instantly. My reaction when I saw this was, “How in the devil did they get inside the eye without the other side of the eye passing over them with the same effect?”

  4. Verity Jones says:

    One more relic to be preserved for future generations to look back at the ‘Age of Absurd’

  5. Soronel Haetir says:

    Come on, Chiefio, tell us what you _really_ think.

    As for the movie, I’ve never been able to put as much effort into watching it as you did. Maybe five minutes at a time and I always had to go find something else to watch or do.

  6. DirkH says:

    While searching for a 10min-version of some of Emmerich’s work, i found this. It looks like somebody’s been experimenting with millipedes. But then, something went wrong…

  7. Roger Sowell says:

    There are no physical science courses or physics courses required to obtain a degree in film-making.

    These guys are here to TELL THE STORY!

    The generic term for such films is Crock-u-mentary.

    I laughed all the way through it.

    Btw…one of the bits you must have missed was in the New York Library Scene — the homeless guy DID tell the others to stuff their clothes with newspaper to keep warm.

    Great film review! You can have a second (or third or fourth) income as a film critic.

  8. mrpkw says:

    My very simple review of the movie:


    I speak to many dolts that think it could really happen (because of CO2)

    Didn’t think the “special” effects were all that good either.

    On the topic of movies and special effects, I would much rather have a better story then glamorous effects.
    I like my monsters in rubber suits !!!

    Go Godzilla !!!

  9. Pascvaks says:

    You’z guys missed da hole point ob da flick! Id’s a modern art kinda thing ya’see. Ya’zz supoosed ta experience id wid’out tinkin. Tink’in makes id stupid. Stupid makes id bad. And bad makes id a waste a’ ya’ time and mullah.

    Da bestist part fer me was da supertanka. Dat was skarie, real skarie. Jus’ imaggine da’ stuff dat’s gonna’ be seepin’ out’a dat bildge and all ober da’ street. Kriminy-Chaeeze wad’ a mess!

    PS: One day Hollywood will slide into the Pacific and we’ll have to watch Ballywood movies. Bet they’ll raise the ticket price to something out of sight too. But who goes to the movies anymore anyway;-)

  10. Jeff Alberts says:

    I remember when the movie came out, Pop Sci had some articles where they interviewed “experts” about whether such things could happen, and the answers were, not in so many words, yes. I rolled my eyes, and it hurt.

    As I understand it, though I’m no expert, the Gulf Stream is a product of the sun, moon, winds, rotation of the Earth, and position of the continents. Were central America to up and disappear, then sure, the Gulf Stream might cease to exist, but due to some cold water slowly entering the system? Show me the math.

  11. Roger Sowell says:

    Another winner in the same genre is “2012.” Chock full of impossible stuff — but movie-goers generally have no physics education so it seems all so plausible!

    After all, they saw it in the movies!

  12. Jeff Alberts says:

    I think Mothra was mostly a “good” monster, though he/she/it might have destroyed Tokyo during his/her/its debut.

  13. John F. Hultquist says:

    Think of the movie somewhat like green technology, only better. While costing a bundle and employing hundreds, there is no real value. However, the cost or tax to society is willingly paid by individuals and so is not a burden to all citizens. One can argue that the country needs such a stimulus every week or even every day. At that frequency some director might even provide a decent movie once in awhile.

    Somewhat related:
    Science Fiction & Fantasy:
    A Genre With Many Faces

  14. TGSG says:

    well, I bought it in the $5 bin at wallyworld because I hadn’t seen it at the theater… I’m poorer for it.

  15. Soronel Haetir says:

    As I understand it, though I’m no expert, the Gulf Stream is a product of the sun, moon, winds, rotation of the Earth, and position of the continents. Were

    Actually, this is perhaps the one item that is realistic. I am pretty sure that the gulf stream fizzled out during the last ice age, the supposed mechanism being all the water that currently flows through the Mississippi being diverted north through the great lakes and on into the north Atlantic. I am not sure, however, whether it is believed that the change in current happened before or after the onset of the glacial period.

  16. mrpkw says:


    well, I bought it in the $5 bin at wallyworld because I hadn’t seen it at the theater… I’m poorer for it.


    Don’t feel too bad.
    I paid 99 cents for ALGORE’s “Earth in the Balance”.

    I am very frugal but was willing to forever rid myself of 99 cents, but wasn’t sure if I should make the purchase because I did not want ALGORE to get credit for selling a book.

    I have only read 3 chapters (several times). It is a horrible book !!!

  17. James Mayeau says:

    It would be interesting to compare the reviews from some of the climate conmen. Generally they steer away from stuff that could be easily checked.

    I caught Andrew Dessler giving AIT “high marks” for scientific accuracy once. Shortly after I challenged him to debate those high marks he demured, but didn’t retract.

    Here’s a review of Gavin Schmidt’s coffee table book, “Climate Change: Picturing the Science”, where the reviewer claims Gavin started RealClimate as a response to the misinformation of “The Day After Tomorrow”.

    That’s not the way I remember the story of RC’s birth, but I wasn’t paying that close attention back then anyhow.

  18. H.R. says:

    So, except for the footage between the opening scene and the closing credits, it was all scientifically accurate?

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, I’m not sure all the credits were scientifically accurate…


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