The Day After Tomorrow is supposed to scare you into thinking the world could plunge into a massive, deadly winter sometime around, well, the day after tomorrow. It doesn’t. Instead, audiences are given a ridiculous, hilarious, campy tale of a father looking for his son amidst the worst storm mankind has ever experienced.
Wisely spacing out the key moments of destruction, Day After does a fine job of keeping audiences in their seats for at least 60 minutes. The CGI here is generally unforgettable, producing sights that most of the ’70s disaster films tried so hard to produce with their limited resources. Never has worldwide devastation been shown in such a form.
Sadly, once everything calms down and Dennis Quaid begins his trek from Pennsylvania to New York – on foot – to rescue his child, the movie becomes absurd. Swallowing some of the slapped together science is expected, but when this intrepid group comes across body after body frozen to death and they seem to have little trouble surviving, it’s flat-out stupid.
Worse, there is little reason for him to even make the journey. He really has to figure his extremely intelligent kid is smart enough to start a fire. The best the writers could come up with is a meager promise made during a phone call that Quaid swears to keep. This is a ridiculous attempt at adding depth to shallow characters.
Logic is also at a premium. In a scene in which Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) makes an attempt to secure penicillin from a ship that has rolled into the middle of the street (conveniently just outside the library they are trapped) due to the tidal wave, where the water is frozen completely solid, all of the liquid medications are not. It is entirely baffling how Jack manages to contact the President in the end. Considering the President has now evacuated to Mexico, how did Jack get the number? Better yet, how did he even find a working phone?
Any and all realism is lost thanks to the second half of Day After turning this decent disaster movie into a lackluster version of Cliffhanger. This one is admittedly worth an overnight rental; just don’t watch the entire thing. You’ll come away one I.Q. point lower.
Day After is a typical showcase disc for the Blu-ray format. It’s ridiculous contrast looks great on a store set-up, but at home, it’s hitting the highs and lows too hard. The black levels are incredibly deep, to the point of black crush. Likewise, the whites are blistering, causing washed out faces and backgrounds. When it finds the proper medium, the disc does shine featuring beautiful color and a razor-sharp transfer. Overly noisy grain can be a distraction, though these scenes are spread thin.
The DTS-HD Master mix is where the disc makes up for its video failings. Everything you need to show off a home theater is here. Bass makes it sound as if your house is in the middle of LA with a tornado on top of it. Water rushing through New York is captured in all five channels, and envelopes the viewer with magnificent, flawless audio. Winds whip across an ice-strewn landscape. The constant, immersive, award-winning sound is preserved here without a hitch.
The only way to get the most out of this disc is to watch it three times; first for the movie and twice more for the commentaries since the other features are lacking. Director Roland Emmerich, along with his producer Mark Gordon, leads the first. Gordon actually seems to do most of the speaking, though make sure the kids don’t hear this one. His language is terrible. The second is four members of the crew and it mostly focuses on the special effects. None of the actors are featured on either track.
Listed as deleted scenes, these are actually just alternate takes. The first is of the ice storm in Japan while the other is just after the eye of the storm hits New York. Blu-ray exclusive features begin with a running trivia track that appears at random points during the film. A rather pointless glossary lists various things from the movie, and skips to scenes featuring them (such as zoo or airplane). The “Cold Zone” game is the final piece aside from trailers, a rather dull trivia test that runs with the movie in a window.