The Day After Tomorrow – All-Access Collector’s Edition

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Dennis Quaid as Jack Hall
Jake Gyllenhaal as Sam Hall
Emmy Rossum as Laura Chapman
Dash Mihok as Jason Evans
Jay O. Sanders as Frank Harris
Sela Ward as Dr. Lucy Hall
Austin Nichols as J.D.
Arjay Smith as Brian Parks
Tamlyn Tomita as Janet Tokada
Sasha Roiz as Parker
Ian Holm as Terry Rapson
Nassim Sharara as Saudi Delegate
Carl Alacchi as Venezuelan Delegate
Kenneth Welsh as Vice President Becker

Special Features:
Commentary by director/cowriter Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon

Commentary by cowriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff, director of photography Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner, and production designer Barry Chusio

Deleted scenes with optional commentary

Storyboard and concept art galleries

“Two Kings and a Scribe: A Filmmaking Conversation” Behind-the-scenes production documentary

2 Pre-production featurettes

3 Post-production featurettes

“The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change” scientific documentary

Interactive audio demo

Theatrical teaser and trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 123 Minutes

Synopsis:
When global warming starts interrupting the ocean’s currents, an unexpected event occurs. The weather abruptly turns violent and amid super-storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, and tsunamis, a new ice age begins. Following a sudden flash freeze in the northern hemisphere, people from North America, Europe, Russia, and Asia find themselves trapped amid a new arctic environment.

Prior to this global catastrophe, climatologist Jack Hall attempted to warn the U.S. government about the impending doom. Once the freezing weather strikes, though, he finds himself racing to a frozen New York City to rescue his son and a small band of survivors who are waiting till help arrives.

The Day After Tomorrow is rated PG-13 for intense situations of peril.

The Movie:
I really wanted to see The Day After Tomorrow in theaters, but for one reason or another I missed it. Seeing it on DVD was my first time to screen the film. I was looking for a disaster flick with awesome special effects, a big cast of characters to be randomly picked off, and little plot. That’s exactly what I got. The Day After Tomorrow fits the “popcorn flick” criteria pretty well.

The strongest thing about the film is the special effects. They are incredible. The scenes of mass destruction are truly impressive. This film copies most of the recent disaster movies and notches things up a bit. It takes the tornadoes of Twister and multiplies it several times over. It takes the storm and massive waves of The Perfect Storm and makes it just a part of the destruction early on. The flash freeze at the climax of the film is also quite impressive despite the questionable Hollywood science. In fact, the whole premise of the film (i.e. an ice age occurring in days instead of years) makes it seem like the writers didn’t get past elementary school science class, but who cares? It all looks cool. About the only effect that didn’t work in the film were some poorly animated wolves.

There’s not much to say about the cast. They’re mainly there for exposition about the events and to run screaming from mass destruction. Dennis Quaid does that pretty well as Jack Hall, our intrepid scientist. The same goes for Jake Gyllenhaal as Sam Hall. He’s a pretty good “everyman” and is a likable character that the audience can identify with. TV star Sela Ward plays Dr. Lucy Hall while Perry King actually plays the President in a very brief cameo. Also look for Bilbo himself Ian Holm in another brief cameo.

About the only thing I didn’t like about The Day After Tomorrow was that it got preachy and political. The main villain in the film is the Vice President and he was obviously cast to look like Dick Cheney. It was a lame political slap. The righteous indignation of the film is also a little hard to take seriously when you have characters yelling out, “The temperature’s dropping 10 degrees every second!!!!” Really? Then it’s –600 degrees in a minute? If you’re going to preach on the evils of global warming, at least try and be realistic.

But casting logic and political preferences aside, The Day After Tomorrow is a fun disaster flick. If you liked Roland Emmerich’s film ID4 or Godzilla, you’ll probably enjoy this film as well.

The Extras:
When The Day After Tomorrow was initially released on DVD, they held back on a lot of their bonus features. Now, finally, the film gets a little better DVD release. Unfortunately, it still lacks any input or features highlighting Dennis Quaid or Jake Gyllenhaal. The extras on this DVD are all about the crew. Are they worth buying the movie again if you already own it on DVD? I don’t think so, but you can judge for yourself. Here are the highlights of the new stuff that wasn’t on the first release:

Storyboard and concept art galleries – These are your standard art galleries. Not much new here.

“Two Kings and a Scribe: A Filmmaking Conversation” Behind-the-scenes production documentary – This is an intimate look at the making of the film. Essentially, a crew member made home movies throughout the whole production process, then handed the footage over to a documentary filmmaker for this DVD. This footage is about the only place you’ll see anything with Quaid and Gyllenhaal. There is a lot of talk about the origin of the story idea, shooting of the film, etc. It’s a good look at the making of the movie, but it’s short and the director spends a large percentage of the running time just talking about how he got the footage.

2 Pre-production featurettes – One of these featurettes shows the animatic process in developing the film. The other is quite boring footage of a pre-production meeting where everyone complains that they can’t hear the speaker in the room and they all gripe about the documentary camera. I suppose it’s good for showing all the mundane work that goes into making a movie, but otherwise it’s kind of boring.

Post-production featurettes – This section features video on the visual effects and the scoring. I was very interesting in seeing how they did the tornadoes, ice effects, and tidal waves, so this video was the highlight of the bonus features for me. The piece on the scoring was pretty boring because it only featured footage of the orchestra playing a few pieces from the score. There was little in the way of other discussion about the score.

“The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change” scientific documentary – Unfortunately, this is a rather weak look at the issue of global warming. A number of global warming experts, politicians, and random people wax poetic about how we need to make change before cataclysm hits the world and kills our great-great grandchildren. I’m all for controlling pollution, but this documentary does little more than spout factoids and random statistics while showing stock footage of pollution that may or may not have anything to do with global warming. They don’t even bother to present opposing viewpoints from people that believe global warming isn’t happening and can’t be predicted. Because it’s so one-sided, it’s unlikely it will sway anyone’s opinion and it’s not informative enough to be a good learning tool.

Here are the highlights of what was on the original DVD release:

Commentary by director/cowriter Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon – This is a pretty good commentary. Gordon toots Emmerich’s horn quite a bit, but there’s still a lot of good information here. They talk about all the work that went into the effects shots, what was real and what was CG, etc etc etc. It would have been nice to have had some of the actors in on the commentary, but this gets the job done.

Commentary by cowriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff, director of photography Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner, and production designer Barry Chusio – This is another good commentary. It’s about equivalent to the previous one as far as information on the filming goes. They, too, discuss the effects, how they originally wanted the VP to propose invading Mexico, how they edited it, etc.

Deleted scenes – There are only two deleted scenes included here. The first is an alternate scene with the Japanese man getting beaned by hail. In it we see him in a phone conversation with a Wall Street businessman that gets killed later in the film. You learn the two are connected and that they are being investigated for insider trading. I guess God smote them for their unfair business practices. Take that, Martha Stewart! Yet another alternate scene is shown with Dennis Quaid just after the flash freeze. There’s some alternate dialogue, but not much else. I don’t know why they went back and reshot this. Anyway, neither scene is that great.

“Audio Anatomy” interactive sound demo – This feature shows the helicopter crash scene and it allows you to switch between audio tracks. You can listen to it with just music, dialogue, helicopter noises, etc. It makes you appreciate the sound design in the film.

The Bottom Line:
If you like disaster flicks, then you’ll enjoy The Day After Tomorrow. Fans of Emmerich’s from Godzilla, ID4, and Stargate should also enjoy this. But if you already own the DVD, the new bonus features on this All-Access Collector’s Edition may not make it worth buying again.

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