A review of ďThe Day After TomorrowĒ by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for scary and intense situations

Run Time: 2 hours

 

Special effects are king in this action-adventure that gives weather fronts a bad name.

Itís a routine day at the Antarctic Climatology Station, until scientists (including Dennis Quaid as climatology expert Jack Hall) discover that polar melting is disrupting the North American current.Offshore buoys are registering a thirteen-degree drop in ocean temperatures, which signals an impossibly dramatic permutation.

This isnít your grandmotherís global warming trend; itís the most cataclysmic climate shift to register in over ten thousand years.While Jackís son Sam (hunky Jake Gyllenhaal) and his high-school pals cool their heels on a Manhattan field trip, Southern California is struck by an enormous cyclonic system that virtually wipes out Hollywood and points beyond (think Twister on speed).

From apple-sized hail in Tokyo to a blizzard in normally festering New Delhi, the massive front burgeons and assaults.Manhattan is beset by gargantuan floods, followed by a massive freeze that buries huge skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty under hundreds of feet of freezing snow.

On the home front, families band together in old-school disaster fashion; with guts and determination masking palpable fear.Jack is determined to get from Washington, D.C. to his stranded son in New York City, despite the fact that all forms of modern transportation are grounded or stalled.

Braveheart Jack and his climatology crew layer on the arctic gear and set off for the Big Apple by pickup, only to be stymied by a menacing killer of a snowstorm.How to get to his kid when transit is at a standstill? Strap on the snowshoes and walk, dammit!

Will Jack reach Sam and his friends before itís too late?How many lives will be lost to the murderous tempest before relief is in sight?The Day After Tomorrow hints at our fragile humanity and tries to put a familiar face to the misery, but the special effects (many of them stunning) overwhelm its slight narrative.While North Americans flee South over the Mexican border (an irony not lost on the audience), the Vice-President forgives the Latin American national debt in exchange for border crossings and shelter for icy-cold US residents.

Thereís no plot to speak of and cheesy dialogue to boot (ďIf we donít act now, itís going to be too late!Ē). Weather-speak flies fast and furiously, the players well-versed in their meteorological pís and qís. Phones work much longer than technologically possible and the stars repeatedly brush up against surefire death. Who do you know that can outrun a -150 degree freeze and a 200-foot tidal wave?

An engaging love story between Sam and fellow student Laura Chapman (the fetching Emmy Rossum) sweetens up the mix, as does the climactic speech from the VP, preaching the evils of consuming our planetís natural resources without heeding the consequences.