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Fox Home Entertainment presents
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

"Sir, I'm the president of the electronics club, the mathematics club, and the chess club. If there is a bigger nerd in here, please point him out."
- Brian Parks (Arjay Smith)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: October 11, 2004

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward
Other Stars: Austin Nichols, Arjay Smith, Tamlyn Tomita, Sasha Roiz, Ian Holm
Director: Roland Emmerich

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense situations of peril
Run Time: 02h:03m:05s
Release Date: October 12, 2004
UPC: 024543135548
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BAA+ C+

DVD Review

The hype battle of the summer had the two sides of the global warming issue attempting to influence the people who make up their minds about important political and social issues by watching movies. Either the movie was a scare tactic to frighten people into demanding more attention be paid to the issue, or it was a warning of a future that might someday come to pass. The bottom line seemed to relate more to economic issues and the one economic aspect that was a sure boost was to the box office receipts of The Day After Tomorrow. Our question here is the DVD and how it might or might not influence our enjoyment level if we watch it and, fortunately, the answer is a definite "You betcha!"

The special effects are tremendous and will literally have you hanging on the edge of your seat again and again as sudden dramatic climate changes envelope the globe. At the center of the story is Professor Adrian Hall (Dennis Quaid), a paleoclimatologist (the study of ancient weather patterns), who has made discoveries that lead him to believe that a radical climate change is imminent, although exactly when it will come even he does not know. The professor tries to warn the government, but is thwarted by powerful Vice President Becker (Kenneth Welsh), a Dick Cheney-like figure who emphasizes the disastrous effects on the American economy if too much emphasis is placed on preventing global warming. The allusion to current events is only one of many sly bits of humor that are included in the script and help raise it slightly above typical disaster movie fare. For example, this is similar to the way the humor of the original Airport makes it a more entertaining film than the turgid and humorless Towering Inferno.

As the first instances of bizarre weather events occur, Hall assembles a team to model the possibilities and they learn that a catastrophe is about to occur. Meanwhile Hall's son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), is involved in a scholastic competition in New York City and finds himself trapped in the New York Public Library with others attempting to flee the city.

Quaid is sufficient, although he seems to have only one intense scowl as a facial expression. He carries much of the movie on his back and certainly manages to avoid ruining the film with histrionics, and that is a commendable achievement. Gyllenhal seems rather strange-looking, but maybe this is influenced by his performances in The Good Girl and Donnie Darko. He and his group of nerds add some humor, but their storyline is the weakest aspect of the film. Sela Ward appears as Dr. Lucy Hall and her storyline, really not much more than an extended cameo, involves a child dying of cancer whom she is determined to protect in the face of disaster. Perry King has a cameo as a vaguely George W. Bush-like character who has ceded much of his power to his Vice President and is reduced to asking "What should we do?" when it's too late to do anything. Director Roland Emmerich wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay, and this film is certainly superior to his turgid and simplistic The Patriot from 2000 or his box-office flop Godzilla from 1998. More reminiscent of Emmerich's most successful blockbusters, Independence Day and Stargate.

Although some of The Day After Tomorrow is obviously compressed for drama and some of it comes off as unbelievable, the film is effective on several levels. The exploitation of real-life fears of global climate change bring a reality to the horror that the aliens of Independence Day could not. The ripped from the headlines feeling also benefits from events that have occurred in recently such as the succession of hurricanes that have pounded Florida and other events that have seemed like "unusual" weather. This is not to come down on either side of the climate issues, but only to point out the fact of that influence. No doubt films can persuade opinion, but certainly no one could possibly make up their mind about a complex issue as global climate change from watching a movie, at least one would hope not. As Jon Stewart of The Daily Show said when told that a large number of people were getting their news from parody shows like his, "Don't do that."

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Day After Tomorrow benefits from an excellent anamorphic widescreen presentation that does justice to the epic visuals of the movie. From the frozen wastelands of Antartica to Pennsylvannia, you won't see more awesome frozen wastelands. This is not all, there are some fantastic effects optics that make this one of the special effects thrill rides of the year. Coupled with a not too annoying story line, this also ranks as one of the most watchable special effects epics of the year.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The sound transfer on The Day After Tomorrow is just simply awesome. Available tracks include English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish/French Dolby Surround. The 5.1 is terrific and is a great candidate for "demo disc for friends" in quickly putting the potency of a home theater on display. The twin tornadoes ripping through Los Angeles and the hailstorm in Japan are two excellent early examples of the power of the sound design across the surround spectrum. Few soundtracks are just plain fun to listen to, but this one is a treat. One of the extras is sound oriented, as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mr and Mrs. Smith
2 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Director/Co-Writer Roland Emmerich and Producer Mark Gordon. 2. Co-writer Jeffrey Nochmanoff, Director of Photography Ueli Steiger, Editor David Brenner and Production Designer Barry Chusid
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. "Audio Anatomy" Interactive Sound Demo
Extras Review: A decent selection of extras adds to the value of this disc, although an unfortunate software requirement limited the facility of one important aspect for me: the hour of behind-the-scenes footage that was to be available on the internet. My frustration with the DVD telling me how to configure my computer just about cancels out my enjoyment of the other extras.

On the positive side, the DVD comes with a cool holographic slipcover that is worth retaining.
Deleted Scenes

Scene 25: Gary's Shady Deal/Taka Dies (2m:45s) reveals a plotline involving an economic scandal that was deleted and changed. Some of the characters in that aborted storyline pop in and out in what seemed like cameos. A Japanese businessman dies in a hailstorm and a New Yorker (Rick Hoffman in an uncredited appearance) arrogantly commandeers a bus. In the film, the Japanese businessman is shown on the phone to someone else and the bus scene is now just a bit in the midst of chaos.

Scene 209-210B: First Version of Jack and Jason After the Big Freeze (3m:45s) provides an alternate glimpse of that scene and is very different from the final version.

The Interactive Sound Demo is quite interesting for those who are fascinated with how sounds are layered in a film. The audio button on the remote allows the cycling through eight different sound layers for the film's helicopter scene.

But more about the negative side:

The DVD-ROM material uses the HotLlama Media Player and installs the application on the computer. The player immediately required an internet connection for an "important" update to the player. An update had to be downloaded and installed. While running, the installer determined that runtime files were in use and could not be updated. So, Windows had to be restarted. Fun stuff. After re-starting, the HotLlama player did not startup. So I ran it and went through more downloading and updating. At this point, I am begininng to hope there is a good reason for all this. The HotLlama Player is a DVD player similar to the Interactual software sometimes seen on DVD-ROMs. The player is a skinned-web browser that can play the DVD and read some files from the disc. It also connects to the internet and can download material in the form of text and media files. Unfortunately, even though I had the required Quicktime Player and Windows Media Player installed, a message told me that I could not view the clips without un-installing the Real Player. Call me silly, but I did not care to do this and was unable to view the material as a result. Too bad. Of course, putting the disc into a Macintosh elicited the message, that "This disc is not compatible with Apple Macintosh." Wouldn't it just be easier to have it launch a standard web browser and go to a section of a web site that is available only to disc owners? Why do these discs have to install lame Visual Basic runtimes and shoddy software to display media files? If you have the patience, then by all means go for it and tell me what I'm missing.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Fans of disaster films will be glad to add The Day After Tomorrow because it is a state-of-the art example of the genre. While the performances are decent and the plot is not too bad, the special effects and sound design are fantastic. If you like outrageous visuals and have a booming sound system, get this disc now.


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