June 7, 2004
Movie Review: The Day After Tomorrow
Whether you like this movie depends on what you expect going in. If you want to see New York get hit by a giant tidal wave and people freezing solid in seconds, you'll have a blast. If you want something that vaguely resembles science fiction, you're in for a disappointment.
(I'm just going to post the spoilers here; it's not like there's any real suspense.)
The story begins in Antarctica, where we learn that humanity has screwed the pooch raw. Thanks to decades of releasing greenhouse gases (message!) the polar ice caps are beginning to melt, and a sheet of ice that appears to be the size of Kansas breaks loose from the continent.
The sudden influx of fresh water into the ocean destroys the Atlantic ocean current (which, according to Dennis Quaid, flows across the North Atlantic from England before swinging south down the East Coast). Without the current to keep warm water in the northern hemisphere, we risk seeing a new ice age within a year. Golly, those greehouse gases sure have messed up the environment. (Message!)
As the afore-mentioned tidal wave floods Manhattan Island while leaving the buildings intact (skyscrapers always get smacked broadside by millions of tons of water, so they engineer them for such occurances) the snow starts. And since it's cold out, all that water freezes over within hours. After all, water freezes when it's cold, even when the water is four stories deep and saline.
About this time we see "supercells" form over Scotland, Siberia and Canada/Greendland. They look like hurricanes, but in reality they're mobile freeze rays pumping -140°F air from the upper atmosphere to ground level. This, they explained, happened to a wooly mammoth in the last ice age, which is why it was found frozen perfectly with flowers in its mouth and stomach. (If I remember correctly the mammoth is real, but the insta-freeze was most likely caused by a volcanic eruption bringing in cold air, not a storm.) Of course nobody listens to the young hero whose father works for the government and has your best interests at heart (message!) even though the several-months estimate was off by a factor of 20. They're caught outside when the freeze ray hits New York. The humans pay the price for their environmental arrogance (message!)
At some point there are poorly-CGed wolves who pass up hundreds of pounds of dead meat to go on the attack (wolves would rather scavenge than hunt; dead stuff doesn't fight back) while our young hero is getting some penicillin for his girlfriend (she had a leg injury you pervs; the movie is rated PG-13). Of course they escape and everyone is fine.
Finally the worst is over and a majority of the populace is saved by evacuating to Mexico. To get that many refugees in the US had to forgive all Latin American debt (message!) while people were swimming the other way across the Rio Grande. The President, who was Veep at the beginning of the movie and looks an awful lot like Dick Cheney (message!) goes on the Weather Channel (promo!) to thank the people of the "third world" (bet Mexico really appreciates that one) for their hospitality. Meanwhile the astronauts stranded on the International Space Station remark that they've never seen the sky so clear (message!) as we zoom away from Earth, now in a new ice age.
So remember, kids. Don't burn those fossil fuels. Or you'll kill us all with a freeze ray from the upper atmosphere and get attacked by wolves. Or something.