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20th Century Fox presents
The Day After Tomorrow: All-Access Collector's Edition (2004)

Professor Hall: What can we do?
Terry Rapson: Save as many as you can.

- Dennis Quaid, Ian Holm

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: June 03, 2005

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm
Other Stars: Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward, Austin Nichols, R.J. Smith, Tamlyn Tomita, Kenneth Welsh, Perry King
Director: Roland Emmerich

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense situations of peril
Run Time: 02h:03m:05s
Release Date: May 24, 2005
UPC: 024543172475
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A BB+A+ A-

DVD Review

Director Roland Emmerich used a snippet of REM's It's the End of the World (As We Know It) during the opening sequence of his blockbuster alien invasion flick, Independence Day, in 1996, but it seems like it would have been much more appropriate for his recent outing, The Day After Tomorrow. What are saucers full of eventually beatable aliens when compared to massive climate changes that literally reshape the face of planet Earth? I don't want to argue semantics about death counts and our place in the universe, because I'm talking a major reworking of our world that will change human life forever.

Of course I know these are movies I'm referring to, and none of this actually happened, but Emmerich, who also directed the Godzilla remake, seems to take a perverse pleasure in destroying good chunks of our world. With The Day After Tomorrow there are no giant lizards or crazed aliens to blame, and the villain here is a dose of some really, really bad weather. Really bad. So bad that we get the start of a new ice age, accented by such things as catastrophic tornados and flooding, and even though the heroic paleoclimatologist Professor Hall (Dennis Quaid) knows its coming, there just isn't anything that can be done. Even Terry Rapson (Ian Holm), isolated in a remote European weather tracking station, gets that heavy weather is on its way, and that the only plan is to have populations migrate south, because before long half the world will be one big glacier; plus, the exodus from the U.S. into Mexico creates one of the film's best bits, about the refusal of "illegals" coming into a country.

But that doesn't stop Hall from trying to unsuccessfully convince the Vice President (played by Kenneth Welsh as a veritable Dick Cheney clone) of the impending doom, and when weather patterns suddenly shift for the worse it is far too late to do anything but sit back and watch Emmerich destroy the world. The secondary plot of Hall racing to a flooded-and-soon-to-frozen New York City to rescue his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is holed up in the library with a handful of survivors, including his ridiculously cute friend Laura (Emmy Rossum), is one of those logic-defying moments that all big action films seem to just have to have.

Let's not get bogged down in predictable subplots (like a stranded Sela Ward and her little cancer patient), because Emmerich is just using humans as game pieces to move about amidst the special effects, and I'm alright with that. First and foremost, The Day After Tomorrow is a special effects film, and in that regard Emmerich does his job perfectly. The visual effects are stunning to say the least, and the multi-tornado sequence in downtown Los Angeles or the tidal wave that sweeps through Manhattan is what this is all about, and Emmerich and his team really deliver. Maybe the CG wolves were a bit unnecessary, but things like the huge freighter that moves through the flooded streets of New York City create some impressive visual moments in a film that's full of them.

If you look up "popcorn movie" in the dictionary, you might find The Day After Tomorrow pictured there. It's big, loud, and well-made as an action/disaster film, lacking as most films like this do when it comes to characters and their questionable actions, but coming through with some remarkable effects sequences.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer here appears to be the same as the one found on the single disc release. It is a solid and clean print from Fox—above average actually—though just not reference quality (like the audio side). Some shadow details do get a little murky in spots, preventing this from being absolutely flawless, but image clarity for most sequences is sharp and crisp.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This might be the same set of audio choices found on the single disc release, but that's not a bad thing; far from it my friend. What we have here is damn near flawless, a pair of dueling English tracks in 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS that are the centerpieces, providing an encompassing and wall-rattling audio experience. Elements like dialogue and Harald Kloser's broad score sound crisp, while the layered sound effects cues hammer and swirl like all get out. You would expect a film like this to deliver in the audio department, and this one exceeds expectations.

French and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Independence Day, Master and Commander, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, X2: X-Men United, Alien Quadrilogy, Man on Fire, Alien vs Predator
10 Deleted Scenes
3 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon, Jeffery Nachmanoff, Ueli Steiger, David Brenner, Barry Chusid
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Re-released as part of Fox's "All-Access" series, this two-disc set ports over all of the same bonus material found on the original single-disc release (minus the horrible DVD-ROM interface), and then some. Gone, however, is the spiffy holographic slipcase (just a standard issue slipcase here), but the usability is decidedly less clunky than the original, and the content is neatly divvied up into separate sections, the bulk of which is on the second disc. I have a general disinterest in most DVD extras, but I found the material here to be not the typical happy-talk EPK fluff, and as a result quite watchable.

Disc 1, in addition to the film and a handful of trailers, contains the same two commentary tracks from before, with input from director Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon on one, and writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, D.P. Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner and production designer Barry Chusid on the other. The absence of any of the acting talent pretty much reinforces that a film like The Day After Tomorrow is more of a visual piece, and the discussions here are largely technical in nature, with much talk about building and designing the massive effects shots.

Shifting over to Disc 2, the extras are subdivided into five separate sections. The first is Pre-Production, which contains a brief piece entitled Previsualization (05m:09s) where we see early computer animation (aka pre-viz) of some of the key action sequences. Pre-Production Meeting (06m:46s) lets you relive the ass-numbing thrill of sitting in on a meeting, this one recorded in November of 2002 as the preliminary details get hammered out. This section ends with a Storyboard Gallery and an extensive set of Concept Art.

The Production area contains just one thing, but it's a good one. Two Kings And A Scribe: A Filmmaking Conversation (48m:22s) features a cross-section of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and workprint clips that traces the origins of the project, including Emmerich's fascination with the Art Bell/Whitley Strieber book The Coming Global Superstorm that would eventually form the film's science, to the planning and staging of the effects.

Post Production looks at Pushing The Envelope: Visual Effects (31m:34s), discussing how the film's 416 visual effects shots were created. One of the visual effects artists talks about making things look "somewhere between creative license and the laws of physics", and over the course of a quick thirty minutes raw plates, test animation and assorted visual trickery gets layered to develop some of the stunning signature sequences. Scoring (10m:15s), something of a let down after the intensity of visual effects segments, shows composer Harald Kloser writing and laying down the background music, with the help of an orchestra. Audio Anatomy is broken down into two sections, the first of which is The Final Mix (09m:06s), with a closeup look at all of the various sound cues brought together to make a scene like the RAF Helicopter Crash so engaging. The second part is an Interactive Demo (found on the original release) that allows the option of turning on the separate layers of sound (ice, wind, engines, etc.) used as part of the RAF Helicopter Crash sequence. A set of 10 Deleted Scenes (18m:30s), up from the two on the single-disc release, feature an optional commentary from Roland Emmerich and Mark Gordon.

The Science section, like Production, has just one entry, this time an interesting documentary entitled The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change (01h:01m:19s). It's a gloomy piece in spots, reinforcing how little we puny humans can do against nature if things were to get really, really bad.

The final section is Trailers & TV Spots, with two trailers and a teaser for the feature, as well as three other titles.

The film itself, on Disc 1, is cut into a healthy 32 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

The big question of whether this is worth an upgrade depends on your hunger for supplements, because the image and audio transfers (both first rate) are the same as before; the second disc of extras has some good stuff, including an hour-long doc on the real-life issue of climate change.

Who cares if the story has a few gaping chasms of logic? From a visual standpoint, The Day After Tomorrow contains some remarkable effects sequences, and when coupled with the intensive 5.1 and DTS tracks, this is a fun piece of escapism to look at and to play very, very loud.



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