Unlike 99.9% of viewers, I was completely convinced that writer/director Roland Emmerich's previous global disaster film, Independence Day, was actually a satirical look at the fantasies of global American culture. After seeing his latest ecological thriller, The Day After Tomorrow, I feel somewhat vindicated. In The Day After Tomorrow, we see the catastrophic beginnings of a new Ice Age caused when global warming upsets the North Atlantic current, wreaking climactic havoc. In the montage of spectacular CGI disasters, we see the number of US monuments destroyed. The Capitol Records building in LA is wiped off the map by some spontaneous tornadoes, and while another tears away the Hollywood sign, we hear one reporter screaming, 'There are people down there still filming! You've got to get away,' or something to that effect; surely this is a tongue in cheek comment on the fact that viewers are paying to sit and what the world destroyed for their visual pleasure!
This film also marks (I think) the first time a major motion picture has 'destroyed' New York city since September 11th. Indeed, most of the Northern US states are rendered uninhabitable by the onset of 'radical climactic change' (read: A New IceAge, sans amusing squirrel), and while the US government is forewarned by tragically misunderstood climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), they don't act until it's too late. The Vice President is cast as a particular nasty, money-oriented, environmentally short-sighted character, which juxtaposes playfully with ex-Vice President Gore who has been using the film as a rallying vehicle to push for better environmental laws in the US. (The science of The Day After Tomorrow has actually been widely discussed in the mainstream press, such as this article from The Australian).
The politics aside for a minute, I have to admit I enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow far more than I had anticipated. Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Sam, holds the film together with some fine acting, while most of the ensemble cast hold their own. The script is well threaded together, and the CGI is marvellously handled, leaving some eye-popping moments on screen. I'm starting to wonder if it's the mark of truly great disaster films to have some sort of mutilated but still-standing version of the Statue of Liberty to gawk at; this one encases her in 15 metres of snow and ice.