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June 10, 2004

Day After Tomorrow: movie review pt 1

Movies like this are tricky to review. The plot is ridiculous, there are no characters to speak of, and the structure is all over the place, with almost everything of interest happening in the first half of the film. Even the science, which the makers have laughably claimed is exaggerated but plausible, is risible. (At one point, the storm sucks vast quantities of frigid upper atmospheric air down to the surface, supposedly flash-freezing any living thing caught outside. However, any A-level physics student could tell you that the air would warm on its descent in response to the requirements of the Ideal Gas Law, and would never be able to flash-freeze anything. One scientist in the movie seems to remember his school-book physics and asks, "But wouldn't the air warm as it descends?" But his colleague replies, "No, it's moving too fast!" Argh! The Ideal Gas Law applies no matter how fast the air is moving.)

So it should be completely devoid of merit, right? Almost. Like many summer movies, DAT stands or falls pretty much entirely on the quality of its effects. As silly as it sounds, we seem to have reached the point where audiences have become complicit in the idea that film-makers can discard literally every element that's normally taken to matter in film-making, as long as they provide some impressive scenes of spectacle in their otherwise meritless movie. And by "spectacle", interestingly, we seem to mean "wholesale destruction".

So. The review pretty much stops here, unless you have an unreasonable interest in visual effects, in which case see part 2. If you don't (or like Chris and Chris you think you're better off not knowing about them) then DAT is two hours of talentless drivel with perhaps fifteen minutes of reasonably impressive spectacle. If that sounds like a fair trade to you then you'll like it. If not, then don't bother.


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