The Day After Tomorrow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Day After Tomorrow Reviews

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December 20, 2007
Effects are neat. Didn't care for any of the characters, though - by the end I found myself wishing they were all dead. Dennis Quaid might be my least favourite actor in recent times.
½ August 14, 2007
½ December 19, 2015
It's too simple. Disaster movies are as bad as the disasters start striking.
December 5, 2015
From a scientific fiction standpoint, this movie is great. Dazzling special effects gave this movie potential to be a classic, but a sub-par script and poor acting wasted this potential.
June 18, 2007
Films about climate change seem to invariably fall into two basic, very distinct groups. One group is overtly and deliberately sombre, seeking at its most extreme to browbeat and shame its audience into taking action, calling on people to prevent future catastrophes as penance for their past transgressions. An Inconvenient Truth and its derivatives tend to preach to the converted, depressing or alienating casual viewers and falling short of cinematic standards on both a visual and narrative level.

The other, more commercially successful group tends to trade on public hysteria, extrapolating fears about carbon emissions and melting ice caps to such a point where any attempt at scientific credibility becomes nigh-on impossible. Such films may get the public talking about climate change more, but they are driven to act on the basis of false expectations and ultimately such works damage the wider debate. The Day After Tomorrow is the ne plus ultra of this latter group, being perfectly entertaining as an throwaway blockbuster but having nothing of any real substance to offer.

Such an indictment is not entirely surprising when we consider the people behind The Day After Tomorrow. The film is loosely based on extracts from The Coming Global Superstorm, an extremely speculative work whose theories about destroyed ancient civilisations treads dangerously close to the work of Erich von Däniken. Whitley Striber, the book's co-author, has a well-documented (and misplaced) interest in the paranormal, and the inspiration for the book - an unsolicited lecture with a man whom Striber calls "the Master of the Key" - should lead us to question how much faith we can put in the central premise.

Outside of doubts raised by the presence of Striber, we also have Roland Emmerich's record to consider. Before Michael Bay came along and stole his crown, Emmerich was seen as the embodiment of the big, dumb blockbuster; he is someone who knows how to shoot destruction in an appealing manner, but his films are either disinterested in complex ideas or explore them in a deeply unfulfilling way. There's no denying the visceral appeal of Independence Day, and John Landis has praised his films as the ultimate in guilty pleasures (and there is some truth in that claim). But if you ever stop and think about any of Emmerich's work, you quickly find yourself baffled by how little any of his films makes sense.

Purely from a scientific standpoint, The Day After Tomorrow's depiction of drastic climate change is utterly farcical. Even if we accept arguments about the Gulf Stream disappearing and an accompanying fall in temperatures, indications are that changes would happen an awfully lot slower than is depicted here. While the film never presents itself as a documentary, it asks us to invest a certain amount of trust in the scientific phenomena it is presenting to us. But because it goes so far out of its way to destroy so quickly every aspect of civilisation that we hold dear, we soon move into the realms of distant hypothesis and then right on into all-too-obvious fiction.

Of course, the argument could be made that people don't elect to see these kinds of films for the scientific accuracy - they would either pick a film like An Inconvenient Truth or get the information elsewhere. But it does not automatically follow that the disaster movie, or the action genre as a whole, has to be empty-headed and without ambition. The best examples in the genre, like The Poseidon Adventure or the original version of The Day The Earth Stood Still, match their extraordinary spectacle with thought-provoking ideas about the human condition and the world in which we live.

It is possible to get a deeper, more allegorical meaning out of disaster films, whether it's a warning about Man's hubris, our over-reliance on a particular technology or the incompetence of modern government. It is possible, in the hands of a good director and screenwriter, for such themes to be conveyed in an entertaining manner in the midst of eye-popping spectacle. Here, on the other hand, Emmerich just picks a series of atrocities and then tries to show them happening in great detail, rather than unpacking what they could represent. There is some character development, but what there is is purely internal - it's tied to the characters in these specific circumstances, rather than making a more general point about our relationship with the natural world.

Additionally, the film suffers from the same problem of many disaster films: it only focusses on the impact of events on people in the developed world. It may sound like political correctness gone mad, but there is no reason why a film about a global catastrophe should only concentrate on the impact it will have on Americans. The scenes in New Delhi early on are just an excuse to trot out rcial stereotypes, and Ian Holm's likeable British character is largely there for decoration.The decision to centre the action alost solely around Americans is as ludicrous as the presumption that American audiences won't sit through a film with subtitles. Not only does this decision cause the filmmakers to treat their audience like children, but it trivialises the extent of the disaster and lessens its dramatic impact.

With all that being said, there is much in The Day After Tomorrow that is enjoyable in a disposable fashion. The special effects may not have the physicality of any of Irwin Allen's productions, but they are nonetheless very effective. Seeing New York City engulfed in snow and ice is evocative, especially given the multitude of films in which snow in such a city is seen as romantic or charming. The scenes involving flooding are also very well-done, being more The Poseidon Adventure than Titanic.

The acid test of any disaster film, notwithstanding its thematic intentions, is whether there are believable characters to whom we can relate in the midst of all the carnage happening on screen. Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds had its flaws, but the central relationship between Tom Cruise and the children kept us going even, holding together even as the story around them flagged. At the other end of the scale, Bay's Transformers films are completely disinterested in characters: the man are vehicles for violence and the women are as much objects as the Autobots.

For all his other shortcomings as a director, Emmerich does manage to come down somewhere in the middle here. He's never going to win any awards for his screenwriting; he writes like an outsider looking in at a version of America which only exists in films. But the characters are more likeable than those in Godzilla, and there is much less of the hackneyed gung-ho military figures which dogged both that and Independence Day.

In the end, the main thing which carries The Day After Tomorrow is the performances, whether they're working with the script or in spite of it. Dennis Quaid's film choices since the 1980s have been very hit-and-miss, but he's a good fit here in the frustrated father figure role. Jake Gyllenhaal isn't as gripping or convincing here as he was in Donnie Darko four years prior, but he's still enjoyable company. And while Holm's character is almost completely surplus to requirement, he brings a sense of stoicism and pathos in the way that only a classically trained British actor can do.

The Day After Tomorrow is a enjoyably disposable blockbuster which provides entertainment in spite of its scientific idiocy. It is among the better films that Emmerich has foisted upon the public, possessing some memorable set-pieces and just enough characterisation to see us through. As an examination of the threat of climate change, it's hyperbolic and utterly ridiculous, but as a disaster movie, it's decent enough to give it at least some of your valuable time.
½ November 11, 2015
Great entertainment, yes it is a disaster movie and not Shakespeare. But for what it is is it's OK actually.
November 5, 2015
always wanted to see it. but got bad ratings.
½ March 27, 2007
This was not a good movie. Plain and simple. It builds the audience up for something drastic that never quite happens. It was unrealistic, silly and downright boring. In the entire 2 hours and 4 minutes of the film, I can only remember one or two scenes that I liked. Ultimately, this was not worth seeing at all.
August 20, 2007
Great visuals, and strong message. Story falls flat early and remains feeling too long. Simplistic story and uninteresting dialogue.
½ September 19, 2015
The special effects are amazing. Though this film was made in 2004, it can easily match movies such as 2012 that was made in 2010. However, the story is cliche and the science is ludicrous even for a sci-fi. Also, way too much political element to make it enjoyable. Regardless of your political affiliation, films should be geared towards entertainment, not political indoctrination. Some obvious liberal propaganda - global warming, illegal immigration, anti-religion, to name a few. Oh, and another 1/2 star off for the ridiculous Gore lookalike who played the president. What a joke. The film could also use some editing, trim off about 90 mins of boring meaningless dialogs.
January 25, 2012
The first 35 minutes are a mess but once the storm hits, young Gyllenhaal
and Rossum are enough to salvage what remains. Still, with no other redeeming storylines, bad dialogue throughout and an almost insultingly obvious script, there isn't much left. There's no suspense but it's the stupidity in the details that really ruin the film.
½ June 18, 2012
The Day After Tomorrow is an entertaining popcorn flick with some very nice visuals and effects. The disaster film is slow paced with a somewhat dull plot. Its pretty hard making an entertaining disaster film when your trapped in a room half the movie. Director Roland Emmerich focuses more on the disasters in the movie than the actual movie as whole and thats mainly why this didnt do so great. But the movie still has some high points that are fun to watch. Day After Tomorrow didnt have the best performances out of Dennis Quaid and Jake Gylennhall mainly because of the script and dialogue. Despite all of the flaws, The Day After Tomorrow should have you entertained enough with its CGI and effects.
August 6, 2010
For what it is, it is a fun watch with nice performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum.
January 18, 2014
Your average Hollywood end of the world flick. Impressive, yet overpraised visuals, are the only real core to this movie, and perhaps the likeability of some of the teen characters. Ir drags on for a boring 2 hours, and possesses the habit of repeating features of previous films. All this wrapped up in a dull, predictable plot makes The Day After Tomorrow one the few Armageddon movies that falls flat.
September 8, 2007
Disappointing. Was hoping for more.
½ July 27, 2015
The special effects are very good and if you're in the mood for mindless hollow scripted entertainment than have at this.
June 18, 2015
Its message about climate change doesn't quite hit the target due to the substantially weak elements of the film.
½ June 17, 2015
A little less than good, overall.
½ June 12, 2015
Many times I just let myself go and embraced the magnificent, eye-popping special effects in Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, but I don't know. It's just such a silly movie. Dennis Quaid is stale. The dialogue is bad. Many scenes are unbelievable (characters are trekking through the frozen landscape and then a minute later they're bundled up in a tent nice and warm.....).

Oh yeah, and why are there wolves in this? LIKE WHAT?
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