I've always had issues with action films. I don't have many in my dvd collection and I can count the ones I genuinely love on ten fingers. And when I look at the action films I have enjoyed, it tends to be because I like the characters or the depth of the dialogue. The really clever thing about Jurassic Park, and why it still works even all these years after the shock of seeing dinosaurs has dissipated is because the moments between those vicitms work so well. And so it proves with The Day After Tomorrow. Magazine after magazine has focused on the special effects wizardry and the creation of the weather. These for me were the weakest moments.
The real strength of the piece is the reaction of the people to the impending doom and their compensation of what transpires. Yes, it's fairly interesting to see the tornadoes hammer through LA, and for the blizzards and tidle waves to take hold of New York. But frankly, nothing seen here is any more astounding than Twister or Deep Impact (other than the fact that they mount on top of one another). My favourite scenes don't include the weather, except as the perhipheral cause. Good example: in an unusual twist large sections of the first act of the film take place in a small hut in the highlands of Scotland as three Englishman are the first to notice the unusual readings which would lead to Earth's near destruction and their efforts to get the message out. Unusually for an American film, it doesn't seem forced -- the dialogue feels local -- and without the rest of the theatrics it could be some BBC Two Horizon drama.
Similar moments happen on the other side of the pond as the effects of the storm take hold. Again, I'd take issue with the naysayers who've been poo-pooing the script. Granted there is a moment with wolves which puts the infamous 24 Cougar incident to shame, but again the real drama comes from the isolation of the characters and also the realisation of what's important to mankind and its civilisation. Watch outfor a major politician considering whether North America should be looked at as a giant triage unit and when a librarian makes a passionate plea about which sections of his need to be saved. Speaking of which -- if this thing is so lame brained, how come there's a fabulous moment when two minor characters debate the importance of whether Neizche's work should be burnt which is right on the nose?
So its intelligent, educational, the direction is fascinating and the acting is superb producing a well rounded action drama. But, now that New York has been destroyed by aliens, freak weather conditions and Godzilla, which other Sim City disasters are Emmerich and Devlin going to film next? A remake of Earthquake?