Posts Tagged ‘disaster film’

Cast Away (2000)

In this day and age, it seems that we have become too connected. We can communicate instantly with people all over the world, and we live and die by the whims of the clock. As a result, we often lose sight of what it is to really live. Chuck Noland is about to rediscover his own humanity, courtesy of Federal Express.

Cast Away is a drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, a remote island, a volleyball, and Helen Hunt.

Chuck Noland is a time obsessed systems analyst, in charge of improving the efficiency of Federal Express hubs all over the world. Although he is in a long-term relationship with the love of his life, Kelly Frears, whom he plans to marry, his demanding hours often interfere with his social life. When Christmas with relative is cut short by a Fed Ex emergency in Malaysia, Chuck leaves Kelly with a wrapped ring box, telling her not to open it until he returns on New Year’s Eve. However, it appears fate has other plans for him, when his plane crashes somewhere in the Pacific Ocean while trying to navigate through a violent storm. He is saved by the inflatable raft, but the emergency transmitter breaks off. Clinging to the raft, he floats all night and eventually washes up on the shore of an uninhabited island. Good news: Now Chuck has all the free time he could ever want. Bad news: He has nothing else but the clothes on his back, the contents of a few Fed Ex packages that wash on shore, and whatever else the island has to offer. Chuck must embark on a journey that mirrors the development of the earliest humans in order to survive, and in the process he learns what is truly important in life…

Tom Hanks is a great actor. There are very few people who can carry the bulk of a movie like this essentially on their own, and Hanks nails it. Add to this the directing chops of Robert Zemeckis, and you have the formula of a dramatic example of minimalism done right. The first half hour sets up the character of Chuck Noland, a tightly-wound corporate analyst who hardly has time to breathe, let alone develop a social life. While he lives by the clock and demands nothing short of the best from the employees he oversees, he does lend some sympathy to the character, so that he comes off as efficient and analytical rather than an obnoxious bureaucrat (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play an unsympathetic role in his life. Then the plane crash tears away everything he thought was important, and he is forced to learn how to survive with virtually no knowledge. Basically, he’s rediscovering what it is to be human, but at the same time he is determined not to forget what it is to be Chuck Noland.

Of course, the huge chunk of movie that takes place on the island is at once maddeningly quiet and terrifyingly loud. It lacks the usual noises of civilization (and a musical soundtrack), but possesses unexpected noises of virgin wilderness. It is not only the setting for Chuck’s personal journey but also a character in itself. It offers no advice, only the barest essential things he needs. He has no companionship save for a volleyball, with whom he has one-sided conversations to stave off loneliness. The plot is boiled and distilled and concentrated down to one thing – Chuck trying to survive. There is no antagonist except for the trials of scraping out his own existence, and you will either find it engaging or boring as hell, depending on your opinion of Hanks’ skill in this movie. Personally, I am in the former camp, and any actor or director that can make you cry for a volleyball deserves any awards he gets.

If you’re a fan of Tom Hanks and you’re in the mood for a modern-day take on Robinson Crusoe, absolutely check out Cast Away. You will soon find yourself journeying alongside Chuck into the heart of his own humanity, brought to you by Fed Ex.

28 Days Later (2002)

After waking from a long nap, there is always that feeling of disorientation as you try to get your bearings. This is especially difficult if things have changed drastically since you went to sleep. Meet Jim. He’s been in a coma for 28 days. In that time, the world has ended.

28 Days Later is a zombie horror film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland. It stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and Christopher Eccleston.

When a group of British animal liberation activists break into a lab to free some monkeys being used in medical research, they are warned that the monkeys are infected with a “rage virus” in the hopes of curing aggressive tendencies in humans. They don’t listen, and of course once they free one of the monkeys, one of the activists gets bitten, and hilarity ensues. Fast forward to 28 days later. Jim, a bicycle courier, awakens from a coma to discover that apparently London is completely devoid of human life, in one of the eeriest sequences in the whole movie. Then he discovers that, no, London is not abandoned – it’s populated by rage zombies. Yay. Fortunately the merry chase that ensues ends with Jim being rescued by a pair of uninfected survivors, Selena and Mark, who fill him in: the rage zombies are not dead, just really, really pissed off, and they try to kill anyone who isn’t infected. Trouble is, the rage virus spreads through bodily fluids, so a bite on even a bit of slobber getting in the wrong spot means that in a matter of seconds you’re one of them. Selena has hardened herself to this way of life, killing Mark without hesitation when he is cut in another fight with the Infected. It is not long, though, before they find another pocket of survivors, Frank and his teenage daughter Hannah, who offer them a place to stay and a glimmer of hope: a pre-recorded radio broadcast apparently being transmitted by an Army blockade in Manchester claiming to hold the solution to the Infection. Sounds great, right? Of course it does. Think it’ll be that easy? This is a zombie movie – of course it won’t. However, with dwindling supplies, the survivors have little choice but to investigate, and hope that they can survive the hordes of infected Rage zombies on the way…

I love zombie movies. They can be goofy and fun, or terrifying and claustrophobic, sometimes even within the same movie. 28 Days Later offered an interesting twist on the classic zombie – the living zombie, something previously explored by Romero’s original version of The Crazies but nearly forgotten until now. 28 Days Later crosses the living zombie with the fast zombie – something used extensively in the Return of the Living Dead series but since discarded until fairly recently with the Dawn of the Dead remake. This combination of zombie traits makes for a frenetic, terrifying take on the zombie movie. You don’t have time to react. You have to kill them or be torn apart. Infection takes seconds. And they absolutely hate you. The military subplot also reminds me a lot of the military subplot in Day of the Dead; the Army dudes have their own ideas about what constitutes a “solution” to the Infection, and once it is discovered you’re left with a general feeling of, “Well, we’re screwed now.” Because that’s what the military does in these movies: they take a bad situation and make it worse in the hopes of making it better.

The cast was tight and well-cast. Cillian Murphy works well here as disoriented coma patient Jim, the guy to whom the London situation must be explained by the others. He just wants to survive and get back to a normal life, and he is just as desperate and terrified as one would expect an uninfected human in a zombie apocalypse would be, but when he snaps – boy howdy. His woobie-ness goes away instantly, turning into a savagery that makes his later role in Red Eye look like Barney the Purple Dinosaur. Selena is another aspect of the zombie survivor, reluctant to make any human connections because she know that she might have to kill any allies without hesitation. Frank and Hannah comprise another aspect, the caregiver playing at normality to avoid traumatizing his young ward too much. And Major Henry West… you know, I’ve seen Christopher Eccleston in three roles so far, and only one of them, the Ninth Doctor, has been even remotely benevolent. I would call him Pragmatic Evil here.

Overall, 28 Days Later is a worthy addition to the zombie subgenre, effectively walking the line between subtlety and blind terror in its depiction of a once-bustling city given over almost completely to the Rage Virus. I highly recommend this one to all zombie fans.

Outbreak (2005)

How do you catch a killer? How far to you go to end the violence, agony, and death? How hard do you push to do your job and save countless lives, against insurmountable odds? What if the killer is only a billionth your size?

Outbreak is a disaster thriller film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, centering around the Center for Disease Control and how it handles an outbreak of a deadly virus. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Cube Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, and Morgan Freeman.

In 1967, a deadly outbreak of hemorrhagic fever called Motaba is discovered in a mercenary camp in Zaire. The camp is bombed and the disease is kept secret from the public. Thirty years later, the virus resurfaces, and the USAMRIID is sent to investigate. Led by Colonerl Sam Daniels, the investigators gather information and, fearing a second outbreak, recommend that his superior, Brigadier General Billy Ford, put out an alert, but Ford says it’s an unlikely scenario. And you know it would be, if a capuchin monkey carrying the virus were not captured for the illegal pet trade in the States. unfortunate monkey-thief is infected when the monkey scratches him, but when he can’t sell it to his buyer, he sets it free locally. It is not long before those who have come into contact with the infected monkey start to succumb to Motaba, and the CDC moves in, locking down Cedar Creek to contain the virus. Daniels investigates, trying to determine a cure for the deadly virus, but he soon learns that Motaba is not as new as he thought, and he finds himself battling against interested parties who want to insure that Motaba is not completely destroyed…

Movies about infectious diseases are nothing new. The Andromeda Strain played with this type of storyline from the CDC’s point of view before, but here the scenario is frighteningly plausible. Viruses are sneaky. They can wait until the conditions are just right before they come out and mess you up, and they can mutate in some ingenious and scary ways. This movie is especially relevant today, with the various outbreaks of bird flu, swine flu, and super-resistant viruses and bacteria. Let’s face it – if nature wants to kill us, it will find a way. And to really hammer the point home, only a few months after Outbreak was released, there was a real-life outbreak of Ebola in Zaire. Kind of makes you want to stock up on hand sanitizer, huh?

The casting here was nice and tight. Dustin Hoffman, and exemplary veteran actor, is spot on as Daniels, barely keeping it together in a crisis that could wipe out the United States if it got loose, alongside Rene Russo as his ex-wife caught in the same boat. Cuba Gooding, Jr., as CDC newcomer Salt, lends a degree of an outsider’s perpective in the opening scenes, and his initiation into the wonderful world of super-cooties seems natural, rather than a device to allow the more experienced investigators to explain the basic concepts to the audience. Donald Sutherland is effective as the Curt Military Asshole Major General McClintock, and Morgan Freeman as General Ford is, well, Morgan Freeman. Each character has his own agenda: the CDC want to eradicate Motaba. Their higher-ups want to preserve Motaba. Most of the civilians just want to survive Motaba. Families are torn apart. People panic. All over a tiny little critter only visible in an electron microscope than can nonetheless kill you horribly. Good times.

If you like your diseases deadly and your thrillers grounded in reality, absolutely watch Outbreak. Just remember to wash your hands afterwards.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Okay, think of things that scare you. Think long and hard. Scared of flying? Congratulations – you share the #1 fear amongst Americans. Scared of snakes? Hey, that’s a major fear as well, and an instinct hardwired into our psyche. Guess what? New Line Cinema decided to put them together in one movie, added Samuel L. Jackson, and stirred. A simple concept, with a simple plot.

They called it Snakes on a Plane. And it was awesome.

Snakes on a Plane is an action-horror film directed by David R. Ellis and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Marguiles, and Nathan Philips, along with lots and lots of snakes and just enough of a plot to contain them all.

While Sean Jones is vacationing in Hawaii, he witnesses a gangster named Eddie Kim murdering a witness, and naturally finds himself on Kim’s hit list. FBI Agent Neville Flynn is assigned to get Sean safely back to the mainland so he can testify against Kim in Los Angeles, putting Sean in first class on a passenger jet under security so tight it seems that Kim won’t be able to get within a mile of him. However, Kim has managed to come up with the only plan that the FBI hasn’t trained for: a time-released crate filled with hundreds of venomous snakes. After we meet a number of airline disaster sterotypes sharing the jet with Sean, the plane takes off, and midway through the flight the crate pops open. Naturally, snakes ensue.

Now, by the time this movie was made, the serious airline disaster movie had already been ruined forever by Airplane!, but the disaster genre as a whole had recently experienced a resurgence through the 90s and the turn of the 21st century. The “serious” disaster movie had been completely supplanted by the “fun” disaster movie, and that’s exactly what this is. In essence this is the Scream of airline disaster movies – a self-referential work poking fun at its own genre even as it offers thrills and scares (I mean, how can being stuck in an aluminum tube at 23,000 feet with hundreds of snakes not be scary?) Eddie Kim, the theoretical driving force for the core of the plot, drops almost entirely out of the movie once the plane takes off, but that’s okay – the movie wasn’t really about him to start with.

The casting was well-done here. Samuel L. Jackson is badass as usual as a no-nonsense FBI Agent opposite a terrified Nathan Phillips as Sean Jones, each trying to deal with the crisis in their own way. A few fun facts: news of Jackson’s casting largely inspired the fan-written line about motherf***ing snakes on a motherf***ing plane, but he threatened to drop out when his agent wanted to change the very descriptive title Snakes on a Plane to something more serious, on the theory that Jackson “can’t work” on a movie called Snakes on a Plane. Jackson assured his agent that the very awesome title was the only reason he wanted to work on the movie in the first place. And this is why he is awesome. In the supporting cast, we have a bevy of airline disaster stereotypes: the nervous guy who hates to fly, the ditzy blonde socialite with the yipyap dog, the unapproachable celebrity, the arrogant businessman who hates everyone else on the flight, the kids flying alone, the horny couple in the Mile High Club, the woman with the baby, the retiring flight attendant on “one last flight”, and the ambiguously gay male flight attendant. However, since this movie is already playing with its own genre, it plays with the supporting cast as well: the unapproachable celeb is a germophone, the woman with the baby helps draw venom out of a kid’s arm, the kid’s brother helps a herpetologist determine what snake bit the former, and the ambiguously gay flight attendant isn’t gay, just really enthusiastic. (Yes, seriously.)

If you like disaster movies and are looking for a fun homage to the airline disaster movie, absolutely check out Snakes on a Plane. It’s the movie inspired by a hundred airline disasters which in turn inspired a hundred internet memes.

Apollo 13 (1995)

In 1970, the Apollo 13 mission would blast off from Houston. Its destination: the Moon. However, it would never reach its intended landing site, as a chain of events would soon unfold that would endanger not only the mission, but the lives of the three astronauts aboard the Odyssey. It will take the ingenuity of both the imperiled crew and Mission Control back on Earth to bring all of them home safely.

Apollo 13 is a film directed by Ron Howard, based on the real-life near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission, and in particular adapted from Jim Lovell’s book Lost Moon. It stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, Chris Ellis, and Ed Harris.

Jim Lovell (Hanks), a NASA astronaut who orbited the Moon on Apollo 8, knew in 1969 that he wanted to go back. While giving a VIP tour of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly building, he is informed that he and his crew will fly the Apollo 13 mission instead of their planned Apollo 14, and it looks like he will have his chance. After he informs his family of the news, he and his crewmates, Fred Haise (Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Sinise) begin training for the mission. Days before the launch, Mattingly is revealed to have been exposed to German measles, and he is bumped from the flight in favor of backup Command Module pilot Jack Swigert (Bacon). Excitement in NASA is high, even though lunar missions have become commonplace in the media, and Jim’s wife Marilyn (Quinlan) worries about the launch.

The Saturn V rocket launches with a minimum of protests, clearing the tower at 13:13, but during a routine set of maintenance procedures, Swigert flips a switch to stir the two liquid oxygen tanks in the Service Module, unexpectedly causing one of them to explode and the other to start leaking. Mission Control aborts the Moon landing, and the Apollo 13 crew are forced to use the lunar module Aquarius as a lifeboat to stay alive while Mission Control figures out a way to get them home safely.

Ron Howard has certainly risen above his roots as Richie Cunningham, making a name for himself as an accomplished director of heartwarming (and occasionally heartrending) dramas and comedies. He keeps on this path with Apollo 13, taking a historical near-disaster and presenting it as the gripping drama it was. While he was preparing to film Apollo 13, Howard decided not to use stock footage of the original launch, or any other NASA Launch. He reproduced the interiors of the Command Module and Mission Control with exacting detail, even bringing in one of the tech guys from Apollo 16 to make everything look right. The footage of the rocket’s launch was so realistic, in fact, that it fooled the NASA guys who worked on that launch, only distinguishable from historical footage in that there were no cameras at those particular angles. During filming, the actors playing the Apollo 13 crew were filmed in actual weightlessness aboard NASA’s KC-135 reduced gravity aircraft, nicknamed the “Vomit Comet”, which saved a lot of time that would otherwise be devoted to simulating the effects of null gravity.

The acting was also exemplary. Hanks had already established himself as a skilled dramatic actor two years earlier with Philadelphia, and he is bang-on as the terrified astronaut with balls of steel. Bill Paxton also shines as Haise, showing that he can play a wider range than simply obnoxious jerkwads, and Kevin Bacon as Swigert carries himself well as the situation aboard the Odyssey deteriorates. At the Mission Control end, Ed Harris earns the hell out of his paycheck as Gene Krantz, trying to get everybody on both sides thinking about the problem calmly and rationally, even with the threat of losing another crew hanging over his head. Their dialog was taken nearly verbatim from actual transcripts and recordings (the immortal “Houston, we have a problem” line was originally, “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” changed because Howard thought the original line implied the problem had passed).

In all, this is yet another example of Ron Howard’s great talent as a director, Tom Hanks’ impressive talent as an actor, and the ways in which real life can be every bit as exciting as fiction. Pick this up sometime if you’re sick of overblow sci fi and want to see how badass the real NASA guys truly are.

Twister (1996)

Tornadoes are funny things. Borne from the most violent of inland weather conditions, they can strike without warning or pattern, touching down just long enough to erase one or two (not necessarily consecutive) houses before vanishing like ninjas into the sky, only to drop on your head a block later on. This is why it’s been so hard to come up with an effective early-warning system, but storm-chasers continue to brave hostile weather to try to figure out what makes a tornado tick, knowing that if they don’t, tornadoes will hunt us all down and murder us in our beds. At least, that’s what disaster movies would have us believe.

Twister is a disaster film based on a script by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin, and directed by Jan de Bont. It stars Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Alan Ruck.

After witnessing her father’s death during a tornado that hit her farm when she was young, Jo (Hunt) has grown up to be a storm-chaser, swearing to hunt down as many tornadoes as possible and prevent her childhood tragedy from happening to anyone else. Her son-to-be-ex-husband Bill Harding (Paxton) and his fiancee Dr. Melissa Reeves meet Jo and her quirky team of storm chasers out in the field in order to get the final divorce papers back from Jo. As Bill was once a member of that same team before retiring to become a meteorologist who hates being called a weatherman, he and Melissa are greeted warmly, but he resists the idea that he is returning to the field. Jo, of course, is still madly in love with Bill, and stalls his attempts to get the divorce papers from her, instead inviting him along for the field testing of a tornado analysis device that Bill co-designed, named Dorothy. With a record number of tornadoes predicted that season, they should have plenty of chances to try out the four prototypes.

However, they are competing against a rival group of storm-chasers led by Jonas Miller (Elwes), whom Bill disdains because Jonas relies on instruments rather than his own instincts (as he apparently has none), and is only in it for the money. Jonas, of course, has his own version of the same tornado analysis device, which he has dubbed D.O.T.; Bill accuses Jonas of stealing his idea, but Jonas makes it clear that the credit for the device will only go to the first team to successfully test it. Bill’s pride wins out, and he agrees to join the team for one more day in order to beat Jonas, incidentally dragging Melissa along for the ride, much to her initial excitement and later terror. The first tornado of the movie is sighted, and the race is on – and along the way, special effects happen.

Really, the whole plot is the curtain rod on which the tornado effects are hung. While it does give a valid reason for these two groups of (probably insane) tornado chasers to be out in horrifying weather, Melissa is only there so the seasoned tornado experts have someone to whom they can explain all the stuff that they already know by heart as part of their job, and Jonas & Co. are only there to give us someone to hate, because it’s stupid to hate tornadoes. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with using instruments to track storms – that’s why they’re there, and Jo’s team uses instruments as well as their eyes and years of experience to try to predict when and where the tornadoes will show up.

That said, the tornadoes are really damn impressive-looking. While the previous standard for movie tornadoes was set by The Wizard of Oz, the twisters here are CGI, using complex particle-rendering software developed by ILM for the film in order to create and control soft-shaded particles within each storm, resulting in the most realistic movie tornadoes to date. In order to get the rotation of each funnel just so, the animators studied actual tornado footage, adjusting the settings on their simulated storms accordingly. Unfortunately, the debris looked fake at times, and while it was still impressively animated it broke the immersion a bit. One funny moment that I enjoyed was the airborne cow caught in the waterspouts, an image that has since gone on to inspire the Flying Cow Cafe in the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma. Incidentally, the “Dorothy” analysis device featured in the movie was inspired by a similar tool used by the National Weather Service, dubbed T.O.T.O., further proving that real-world storm chasers have a sense of humor.

If you want a flashy foul-weather movie with impressive special effects and don’t care about the plot, I recommend Twister. The plot is thin, but it’s still a neat little disaster flick.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

People tend to be very visually oriented. With all the recent talk about impending global climate change due to human activity, naturally people wanted to see for themselves what the possible consequences would be. You could trot out all the graphs, charts, and theoretical projections you wanted, but none of those seem really concrete. Then a director came along who decided to show people what disastrous global climate change might look like.

Naturally, it was Roland Emmerich. And lots of shit gets broken along the way.

The Day After Tomorrow is a sci fi disaster movie directed by the reigning king of disaster movies himself, portraying the Earth thrown into a second Ice Age as a result of global warming. (Stay with us, here.) It starts Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jay O. Sanders, Dash Mihok, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Sela Ward, and Sasha Roiz.

Jack Hall (Quaid) is a paleoclimatologist whose job often keeps him away from his wife Lucy (Ward), a physician, and his teenage son Sam (Gyllenhaall). While collecting core samples for the NOAA, the ice shelf he and his colleagues Frank (Sanders) and Jason (Mihok) are working on suddenly breaks off and slides into the sea, taking half the camp with it. The core samples they have collected point to a possible second ice age approaching, and Jack presents his findings at a United Nations conference in New Delhi, but he is blown off. I mean, if his models are accurate, nothing will happen for the next 100 to 1000 years, so what’s the rush. However, Jack’s findings get the attention of Professor Terry Rapson from the Hedland Climate Research Center in Scotland. Two buoys in the North Atlantic have simultaneously shown a drastic drop in temperature there, and Rapson concludes that the melting of the ice caps from global warming are disrupting the North Atlantic current, which keeps the Northern Hemisphere temperate. Rapson contacts Jack, and the two put their heads together to figure out what is likely to happen. They soon figure out that a Roland Emmerich movie is about to happen, as violent changes in weather begin to cause worldwide destruction, from a snowstorm in New Delhi to a series of Tornadoes shredding Los Angeles, including the laser-guided tornado that takes out the Hollywood sign. Just because, that’s why. And all evidence points to things getting a hell of a lot worse before they get better, with the predicted Ice Age coming in a week rather than years down the road.

Meanwhile, Sam Hall is in New York City for an academic competition, after a really hairy plane ride. During the competition, violent weather bears down on the area, halting trains, closing the roads, and shutting down airports. When a massive tidal wave floods the streets and the temperature starts plummeting, Sam and his fellow competitors take shelter in the New York Public Library to ride out the storm. When the President of the United States order the evacuation of the southern U.S. to escape the storm, Jack embarks on a desperate journey north, into the same storm that he just told the President would instantly kill anyone out in it, to search for his son. He has experience travelling in Arctic conditions, but can he reach his son in time?

The Day After Tomorrow follows closely in the footsteps of Emmerich’s other disaster movies, namely in the tradition of destroying or defacing recognizeable landmarks in the most spectacular ways possible. The Hollywood sign is obliterated. The Statue of Liberty is covered in ice. Manhattan gets turned into a winter wonderland an icy hell. And along the way, lots of slightly dodgy science is used to justify it, though not on the same scale of audacity as demonstrated in 2012. While much of the mayhem demonstrated here isn’t quite possible by the current climate patterns, if those patterns were to change… Well, you know. The sequence with Sam & Co. outrunning an oncoming flash-freeze in the eye of the storm did stretch even the willing suspension of disbelief necessary for watching a disaster movie, though, and the wolves escaping from the New York zoo seemed to only be there to give the Manhattan subplot one more avenue of danger for its own sake. And the Kyoto hailstorm seems to only confirm my belief that filmmakers do not know how to simulate realistic hail, ever.

The acting was surprisingly good here, with A-Lister Dennis Quaid playing the estranged family man and frustrated scientist trying desperately to prove that Bad Things are on the way, but Vice President Dick Cheney Raymond Becker blowing off his findings out of hand seemed a bit clunky, like Emmerich just felt the movie needed a naysayer in the same vein as Secretary of Defense Nimzicki in Independence Day. He did remedy this trend in 2012, I’m happy to say. My only complaint was the number of times Jack’s subarctic expedition to Manhattan took their gloves off in supposedly deadly cold. Jake Gyllenhaal as Sam also did well, trying to get the situation under pseudo-control and keep his friends alive, and volunteering to go out to the icebound ship outside the library for penicillin did feel like warranted desperation rather than, “I’m one of the heroes, I must go outside to scout around because that’s just what I do! *dramatic pose*”. The guy who wanted to hang on the the Gutenberg Bible in order to preserve that element of civilization needed a good shake, though. I mean, seriously – civilization might be on the verge of collapse. Let it go. Seriously.

While the science is tilted slightly to the left to make the story work and the lesson of GLOBAL WARMING BAD is pretty much beaten into our heads at awkward intervals, overall The Day After Tomorrow works as a climatological disaster movie. Roland Emmerich takes the usual frame work of OMG TORNADO or OMG SNOWSTORM and scales it up into a hemisphere-wide disaster. If you like your disasters huge and your destruction spectacular, The Day After Tomorrow won’t disappoint.