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Most people love a good disaster movie and currently there is no better director to create this type of movie than Roland Emmerich, who has been making them over the past few years. The film which made him a household name was Independence Day in which he introduced the world to the idea of aliens blowing up the White House. Earlier this year Emmerich released his latest movie, The Day After Tomorrow which was tipped to be every bit as spectacular. However, critics were not impressed and the director came under a lot of criticism for certain aspects of the movie. That didn’t seem to affect the film’s success and proved that cinema-goers can’t get enough of the disaster movie genre.    

Day After Tomorrow, The  (2 Discs)
Movie
The Day After Tomorrow starts in dramatic fashion; we are introduced to a team of scientists who are led by paleoclimatologist Jack Hill (Dennis Quaid). The team are coring ice in Antarctica when they experience a freak weather related accident. This leads Jack to believe that there is about to be a catastrophic change in the planet’s environment. He believes that the temperature of the oceans are rising; this will ultimately cause a shift in the Gulf Stream which in turn will bring severe weather conditions and possibly a return to the Ice Age. Jack takes his findings to the UN summit, but his ideas are dismissed as implausible.

Jack’s prediction starts to gather evidence when several places around the world start to experience severe weather conditions. Tokyo is one of the first places to feel the changes when hailstones the size of footballs plummet to ground level. Europe also feels the brunt of the weather when a hurricane hits Ireland, but naturally the most impressive events occur in America. Los Angeles is the victim of a spectacular set-piece; the city is totally destroyed by a series of tornadoes which rip up everything and everyone in their path.  At this point in time alarm bells start to ring with the powers that be in America and they enlist the help of Jack.

To gather an accurate representation of what is happening to the Earth’s environment, Jack calls upon his intrepid friend Dr Terry Rapson (Ian Holm), who has discovered some interesting changes in the temperature of the waters around the UK. Obviously the computers in the UK don’t have the processing power (spot the sarcasm!) and Rapson has to call upon the US to process his findings. The news isn’t good! Jack discovers that there are three catastrophic snowstorms covering the northern hemisphere. The eye of each storm is deadly and has the potential to freeze the area it vacates to minus 190°C. There is no escaping the storms and the casualties are bound to be high!

To add to Jack’s woes, he has various members of his family to worry about. His wife Lucy (Sela Ward) decides to weather the storm and stay in hospital to look after one of her cancer victims. Of more concern to Jack is the welfare of his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has gone to New York on a science trip. New York has been flooded by a giant tidal wave and is in the path of one of the deadly storms. Jack sets off to find his son even though he doesn’t know if he is even alive. Will Jack reach New York in time, and will the Earth ever be the same again?

Day After Tomorrow, The  (2 Discs)
It’s fair to say that The Day After Tomorrow has as many flaws as strengths. I’ve seen most of Roland Emmerich’s movies, and for the most part found them quite entertaining. Independence Day was fun while at the same time too patriotic, The Patriot was reasonable and Godzilla, for all its negative reviews, I actually found to be quite enjoyable. Roland Emmerich is renowned for creating big set-pieces which usually involve buildings or indeed whole cities being destroyed. Therefore it should come as no surprise to find that The Day After Tomorrow is laden with special effects and relies heavily upon CG. For the most part the CG effects are very impressive. Scenes such as the Los Angeles tournedos and the tidal waves in New York are very exciting and look stunning. The film has come under a lot of criticism for the CGI wolves that appear towards the end of the movie. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t think they looked too bad; however I am more concerned by their inclusion in the movie. This whole scene seemed pointless and contrived.

This leads me onto my main gripe with this movie. The films starts promisingly and for the first hour I found myself engrossed, however the film seems to quickly run out of ideas and ends predictably. I’m sure that the premise behind this movie is not watertight; however I am willing to oversee this in the name of entertainment. What I can’t accept is the lame final hour which seemed to be an easy way to fit in a few more impressive shots. I don’t think I am being too critical by saying that after the first hour you could switch off the movie and probably guess what the ending will be. It really is that predictable! Another problem I have with this movie is the characters and the people who play them. I was never totally convinced by the performances that are given. Dennis Quaid is the best of the bunch, but even he seemed to be going through the motions and wasn’t that convincing in his role. A sign of a great movie is one where you actually care for the characters onscreen, and as harsh as this sounds, I ended up not caring if the characters lived or died!

I am usually quite easy to please as far as movies are concerned. Give me some fancy special effects, a feasible storyline, a few decent actors and I’m content. However, I found The Day After Tomorrow to be a major letdown. If you are a fan of disaster movies then you may enjoy this, however I can’t help feeling disappointed by the final hour. I am a firm believer in the idea that you need to end a movie strongly so that you leave audiences feeling satisfied. The Day After Tomorrow spoils any good elements by ending the way it does. If you are looking for fancy set-pieces and not much else then you will get some satisfaction from this movie, however it could have been so much better! The Day After Tomorrow is probably one of the most visually stunning movies of the year, but in this day and age is that enough?

Video
Fox have released this title with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, which unsurprisingly also happens to be its theatrical aspect ratio. Before going into detail, I would just like to say that this transfer is breathtaking; it really is that good! Probably the most impressive aspect of this transfer is the sheer level of detail that is presented. The region one disc has been criticised somewhat for its lack of clarity but that is not an issue here. I managed to miss this movie at the cinema so upon reviewing this disc it was my first experience of the film, and visually I was not disappointed. Due to the nature of the movie (big set-pieces and heavy usage of CG) I was surprised by the amount of detail that was evident, and for the most part the CG passed the test.

Day After Tomorrow, The  (2 Discs)
Colours were also impressive; due to the colour diversity I was very impressed by the way this transfer dealt with the excessive use of whites and light blues. This is the type of movie which really does fully test the capabilities of DVD, and fortunately Fox have produced a worthy transfer. Compression artefacts were nowhere to be seen which is mainly due to Fox’s decision to house all the extras on the 2nd disc. Edge enhancements were also non-existent and as expected there seemed to be no print damage. I didn’t notice any grain during the presentation and overall this is a transfer which you will struggle to find faults with.

Audio
Following up from the impressive transfer Fox have supplied two immersive tracks with this release. Both tracks are in English (Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1), but surprisingly the foreign tracks included with the region one disc (French and Spanish) are missing.

I have two young children and there is no getting away from the audio side of this release; both soundtracks are loud, expressive and inevitably will wake up the kids! As always I would side with the DTS track just because it seemed to have a little more diversity, but that’s not to say that the Dolby track is weak. If you are looking for a new demo disc to show off to friends then this title may be a welcome contender. Whether you go for the DTS or the Dolby track, both are going to give you an engrossing experience. During some of the bigger set-pieces (tornados, heavy rainfall and tidal wave scenes) you will literally feel as if you are in the middle of them. The full range of speakers are used throughout, the rears are brimming with confidence and you will probably find yourself ducking for cover when you hear objects flying towards you! My subwoofer also got a welcome workout and added some oomph to the noisier scenes. Dialogue levels are consistent throughout and don’t get lost in some of the noisier moments. Overall you won’t be disappointed with the soundtracks on offer here, but you might have the neighbours complaining!

Subtitles are in English and there are also subtitles for the two commentaries.

Extras
Most of the extras for this release can be found on the second disc, however there are a handful of extras that can be found on disc one. The most notable are the commentaries. There are two commentaries included and they are Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Roland Emmerich and Producer Mark Gordon and a Commentary by Co-Writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Cinematographer Ueli Steiger, Editor David Brenner and Production Designer Barry Chusid. Both of these commentaries focus on the technical aspects of the movie and also the storyline. If you are looking for some serious, yet very thorough insights into this movie then you won’t be disappointed with what’s on offer with this release.

Day After Tomorrow, The  (2 Discs)
The only other extra on disc one is called Inside Look. This is a short featurette which focuses on the upcoming Alien V Predator movie, and in particular the creature effects for the movie. This featurette lasts for just over two minutes and is slightly disappointing because it shows no footage from the movie. This extra is really for die-hard fans and even they will only watch it once.

Now onto disc two and the first extras you will come across are the Deleted Scenes. The scenes can be played separately or one after another. There are seventeen minutes in total and the extras can be watched with their original soundtrack or with an optional commentary with Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon. Some of the scenes are extensions of scenes that made the final cut but there are also some new scenes which were deliberately cut. The commentaries are good because they go into great detail as to why scenes were cut from the final movie. Overall, this is a good collection of deleted scenes.

Next up is a featurette entitled The Force Of Destiny: The Science and Politics Of Climate Change. This is an in-depth look at the how the Earth’s climate is changing. This featurette is very thorough and starts with the basics, taking the time to explain every little point. Various scientists and other people in the know have taken part in this extra to make sure that this serious issue is thoroughly explained. This extra is not for the faint hearted, it is depressing viewing but at the same time very interesting. If you wanted to know more about climate change and what is predicted then you won’t be disappointed with this extra. Let’s just hope that Governments around the world watch it! This featurette lasts for one hour and is probably one of the most interesting extras I have seen this year.

The next selection of extras can be found with the Inside The Day After Tomorrow area. This area is split into a further three sections, Pre-Production, Production and Post Production. Basically these three sections cover things such as storyboard galleries, concept art galleries, a visual effects featurette, an audio anatomy featurette and a making of documentary called Eye Of the Story: Filming The Day After Tomorrow which lasts for one hour and covers most of the areas associated with making a special effects movie.

If you after some light hearted entertainment then the next couple of extras are for you. The first is called Global Watch and is great fun. You get to choose from a list of five types of weather conditions (Floods, Tornadoes, Storms, Hail and Anomalies) and each type has a selection of dates when such conditions were evident. For example if you select floods you are presented with six different events when devastating floods occurred. If you click on a particular event you are given some information about it and you get to see some footage from the event. Some of the events are taken from the movie as well. The final extra is pretty similar and is called City Freeze. This extra focuses on the major cities in the world and you can click on a location to see how a worldwide climate shift would affect the chosen city. There are eight cities to choose from and you get to see a little animated clip of what the city would look like if the events of the movie happened.

Day After Tomorrow, The  (2 Discs)
Overall
The Day After Tomorrow has received negative reviews from many quarters and sadly in most cases that criticism is fully justified. There are huge plot holes throughout, the character development is pretty much non-existent and at times the special effects are lamentable. If you take this film for what it is (i.e. a chance for Roland Emmerich to do what he does best, that is destroy a few cities using fancy special effects) then you will probably have a reasonable time watching it. However, the similarities between this film and Independence Day are obvious to see, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before fans starting expecting more from Emmerich. I was really looking forward to this movie, but sadly I can’t help feeling disappointed.

The same cannot be said for the DVD itself. 20th Century Fox have produced a worthy release; both the visual and audio aspects are first class while the extras should keep fans happy for a reasonable amount of time. If you are a fan of the movie then it is worth considering the fact that The Day After Tomorrow is also released as a single disc, however Fox have supplied enough quality extras to warrant purchasing the two disc release. If you have never seen it then I am hesitant to suggest making this an impulse buy, and would probably recommend renting it first.    


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