A Visual Spectacle: The Day After Tomorrow offers a heart racing visual spectacle as we watch Earth gradually become engulfed in frost. We see this changing planet in large wide shots high above buildings and even larger still we see the world from space. These expansive and thorough shots create a very tangible world for viewers to enter, offering us a sense of believability despite how deep into its own wonder it dives. Directed by Roland Emmerich who helmed similarly ambitious projects such as Independence Day, Godzilla and 2012, his 2004 The Day After Tomorrow is a predictable addition to his collection of disaster movies.
Movie with a Message: The Day After Tomorrow gives us an interesting antagonist in the Vice-President as he personifies those who deny the severity of certain situations; in this case the film tackles climate change. Our antagonist is the unrelenting stubbornness of human nature that refuses to look until there is something to see. The Day After Tomorrow doesn't crucify him, instead, they change him, they help him to evolve beyond his view of the world. Through a severely catastrophic worst case scenario reality, the unmoving antagonist turns to the side of the protagonists’, Dennis Quaid’s character Jack Hall who is a climatologist for the government and his son Sam Hall who is trapped in the midst of the tragedy. This age old trick of the baddie becoming a goodie inspires hope in the heart of the viewer, and what goes better with mass extinction than hope for rebuilding a better life afterward? What this film poses is an interesting examination of ignorance that makes us take a closer look at ourselves and our world, especially in its current state.
Love Triumphs all? The heart of this movie lies in the father-son relationship. Jack is the father to Jake Gyllenhaal’s high school genius, who at times is more preoccupied with pining after his love interest. While up until now Jack has not been playing the proper role in his son’s life, suddenly, the stakes are raised. Jack decides that it is now or never and sets out in a last ditch effort to finally be there for his son. The storm in these scenes acts as a barrier between the two, it creates distance and struggle and forces the characters to call into question the importance of their relationship. Both face death but in the end - no matter how unconvincing the plot makes it - no storm is too powerful to derail a Hollywood happily ever after. The narrative here acts as a means of introspection in that it is hard to not wonder what we ourselves might do in such a situation. The father-son storyline asks us what lengths we might go to for the ones we love in a possible end of time moment. Even further beyond this, we might wonder who would show up for us?