THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW ALL-ACCESS COLLECTOR’S EDITION Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2004 Rating: PG-13 Film Length: 124 minutes Genre: Science Fiction Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1, widescreen enhanced Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Subtitles: English, Spanish Closed Captioned: Yes SLP: US $21.58 SLP: CDN $37.98 Release Date: May 24, 2005. Film Rating: / Entertainment Rating: / Starring: Dennis Quaid (Jack Hall), Jake Gyllenhaal (Sam Hall), Emmy Rossum (Laura Chapman), Sela Ward (Dr. Lucy Hall), Ian Holm (Terry Rapson) Screenplay by: Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff Directed by: Roland Emmerich I was disappointed that I missed The Day After Tomorrow when the first time it came out on DVD last year. Since director Roland Emmerich was responsible for that lack of story and special effects-driven film Independence Day, I thought this film would be just as entertaining, and hopefully with a little more substance. The movie is about a climatologist who warns the leaders of the world that more action needs to take place to reduce greenhouse gases to offset global warming. He fears, like many scientists do in our reality today that we are committing suicide as we head our world towards serious climate changes that will affect every aspect of life on this planet. Money and unproven big theories, of course, is the stumbling block to saving millions, if not billons of people. Unfortunately for the U.S., and the U.S vice president who failed to listen, the world is suddenly transforming quickly into a weather-beaten rock by three massive storms called super cells. This triggers unnatural weather such as hail the size of softballs that crack the skulls open of many in Japan. Tornadoes rip through and flatten Los Angeles as well as the stupid television reporters and bystanders that look on at the massive whirlwinds only to be swept up in their path. I guess it never made sense to seek cover from the five or six tornadoes? And a massive tsunami, much bigger than the one we saw at Patong Beach (and having no subsequent waves) seems to do less damage in New York City that it should have. These weather effects of course kills millions of people, and just to make sure everyone is dead, the northern hemisphere is subjected to a rapid deep-freeze. These are weather effects the world has seen in the past and is very possible to happen again in the future but at a slower rate than is depicted in this film. I’ve always been fascinated about natural disasters because that is one thing we humans can’t control in a world where we think we control everything. The unfortunate part of this amazing dynamic of the world we live in is the lives it claims. In this film, there are few survivors that must wait the storm out while hoping for life. Others get itchy within their waiting place and decide to venture outside on their own which seals their fate. Even the climatologist who predicted this storm suddenly looses his common sense and narrowly escapes death and walks hundreds of miles from inland U.S.A. to Manhattan to find his son without even knowing if he is alive. Why? because he made a promise to even though he may never make it. Oh, I’m touched by this dedication… Definitely a blockbuster film, I thought The Day After Tomorrow was the most let-down of a film I’ve ever seen. I really did have high hopes for this movie; it seemed to have the right ingredients of a natural disaster super thriller. Unfortunately, the disaster scenes feel unthreatening and convey no sense of urgency to run away from it all. I did not feel on the edge of my seat, in fact I was laughing at the bad attempt of it all. If my life was at stake and I was to run away fast, heck I’d be really running…but even the extras on the disaster sets look tired from running over and over again they look exhausted and unexciting. In the end, this is a film that has such a crappy story and way too many logistical problems to make it enjoyable – and I am able to put these things aside when watching movies; in this case, I grew uninterested. VIDEO QUALITY / If the movie wasn’t bad enough, this film does not look great at all either. It’s very dim to the point of wondering if it was the intention of the filmmakers. Contrast in interior scenes is only fair, and shadow detail is almost absent. Sometimes it is difficult to make out the subtleties in the image, especially on CRT displays where black levels really stand out. Those watching this film on bulb-based displays will see the image as the darkest grey. On the positive side, everything else about this picture looks fairly good. There is no edge enhancement and resolution is very good. Colours can occasionally look pasty looking in those interior scenes. AUDIO QUALITY / The sound design is creative for this movie giving the viewer a sonic assault of sounds during the storms, whatever these noises actually sound like. All channels are active during the storm sequences, but the use of the surrounds isn’t as dramatic as I expected to be. In a film with objects flying about and everything swirling into chaos, I figured this would open the door to maximum dynamic range and effects use. Instead, I found dynamics to be a little flat. The soundtrack also sounded extremely manufactured. Even though it is, I don’t want it to sound like that. I think more effort needs to be put into making soundtrack sound more real rather than gimmicky. The most obvious disjointedness from reality was the integration of the dialogue. It was terrible! The integration of this ADR is done poorly because there is little match of lip sync and the dialogue doesn’t often carry the ambience of the rooms. It sounds too forward and “absorbed” by sound barriers around an actor and a microphone. Another ongoing annoyance is the high-frequency noise that surrounds dialogue. There are tonnes of it in this film and it drives me up the wall. I am surprised no one else ever comments on this problem; I must have ears like a dog because it’s totally unacceptable. This noise is accentuated when switching to the Dolby Digital soundtrack. Both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 encodings are on this disc. You pick your preference, but I am indifferent on this choice, maybe even leaning slightly to the Dolby Digital version. I didn’t critically evaluate these two soundtracks this time but just switched between them occasionally when I watched the film, mostly on one scene to evaluate ambience and subtleties in the soundtrack. Even though the high frequency noise bothered the heck out of me, it was there on the Dolby Digital version and the highest of frequencies (that I could hear) were muted on the DTS soundtrack. Regardless, both soundtracks will kick you in the butt with bass. There is a plentiful amount of bass energy in the main channels and a very powerful LFE channel. SPECIAL FEATURES / Special features are spread out across two discs. Disc One: [*] Commentary by Director/co-writer Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon[*] Commentary by co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Uelt Steiger, and editor David Brenner and production designer Barry Chusid Disc Two: On the main menu, there are five sub menus that you can access that cover a variety of parts of the making of the film. The first is Preproduction which covers: [*] Previsualization (5.09) with visual effects supervisor Karen Goulekas[*] a preproduction meeting (6.46)[*] storyboard gallery of 11 scenes[*] 17 concept art galleries with a handful of drawings in each All of these features are 16:9 enhanced and are from a personal video camera source. The second submenu is about production. Included here is a 48-minute feature titled Two Kings and a Scribe: A Filmmaker’s Conversation, which frankly I found very boring. It is sourced from personal video cameras during the making of the film, and this feature is collaged together as a “making of”. It features on the set footage, conversations with crew, and bad-looking clips from the movie. It was also cropped at 2.35:1 like the film, which made no sense to me. It was worth skipping over. The post production section is where all of the fun is. There is a 31-minute feature about visual effects called Pushing the Envelope showing how many of the effects were made. A ten minute section on the scoring of the film showing the composer doing 4 passages from the film. There is another 10-minute section called audio anatomy where we see the sound guys creating a final mix for the RAF helicopter crashes. This can also be dissected using an interactive audio feature by selecting eight isolated soundtracks by your remote control. These kinds of features are always cool. Lastly, there is a section for 10 deleted scenes totalling just over 18 minutes in length. You have the choice to watch them with or without commentary from Emmerich and Gordon. These scenes are almost finished, they are just missing the visual effects. They are widescreen enhanced too. The second last submenu contains an excellent documentary called The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change. It covers everything we’ve been hearing about climate change every year and features interviews from scientists as well as members of this film. At one hour long, this is an excellent documentary to watch and is highly recommended. It makes this set worth buying! Lastly, there are two theatrical trailers and a TV spot on this disc too, none of which are widescreen enhanced. IN THE END… I may have ranted about my displeasure for this film. My brain is wired by logic and I just can’t help that. I can rarely enjoy mindless films when they try to be serious, but love mindless films when they aren’t serious. The Day After Tomorrow is another film in the can with special-effects as a priority. There are too many of these films these days which is probably why I wasn’t amused. I’m enjoying the classics and the film noir titles Fox has been releasing far more than this movie. Still, to those fans of this film, there are plenty of goodies on the second disc that makes this buy worthwhile, especially The Force of Destiny documentary. The scientists are probably right and this film probably has some truth to it. Sometime, in our lifetime, we will witness another disaster, be it drought or more flooding. The Day After Tomorrow is about all of these effects happening at once and can only be realized through the extensive use of special effects. Michael Osadciw May 21, 2005.