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The 100




Day After Tomorrow, The
(2004)
Reviewed by Roger M. Wilcox
Rating: 6 Beans

his movie does for meteorology and climatology what _Armageddon_ did for astronomy, what _The Core_ did for geophysics, and what NBC's _10.5_ did for seismology.

The movie starts out, appropriately enough, on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. A group of rag-tag researchers -- including our movie's hero, Dennis Quaid -- are drilling ice core samples. Suddenly, a super-duper-deep crack forms in the ice stretching for miles. The entire Ross Ice Shelf is breaking free from Antarctica! And wouldn't you know it, out of all the places in the middle of miles of uninhabited ice that the crack could have ended up, it runs *right through the middle* of the scientists' tiny camp. Hilarity ensues.

What's going on? Why, Global Warming, of course. Global Warming is causing the Antarctic ice cap to melt. This will cause a huge amount of fresh water to be dumped into the world's oceans, thus shutting down the North Atlantic Current that brings warm water from the tropics to the temperate zones. This will usher in a new Ice Age. Yes, that's right, global warming will result in an ice age. Betcha never learned *that* in climatology school.

But this is no ordinary Ice Age that's a-comin'. No no no no no. This is a super mega hyper ice age from hell. You see, Dr. Dennis Quaid, in looking at the ice cores he drilled in Antarctica, has hit upon an alarming discovery: 10,000 years ago, there was a slow release of CO2 into Earth's atmosphere. This slow release of CO2 was just like the one we're creating right now by driving gas-guzzling SUVs, burning down rainforests, not eating our vegetables, etc.. 10,000 years ago, so Dr. Quaid tells us, this resulted in a sudden precipitous drop in temperature, followed by an Ice Age that lasted for two centuries.

(Now, of course, the REAL ice age lasted for about 1.5 million years, and ENDED about 10,000 years ago. But little things like real science would never stop the intrepid Dr. Quaid.)

Armed with this new and alarming data, Dennis Quaid tells the Vice President of the U.S. that a terrible, traumatic climate shift is coming, and if he doesn't do something RIGHT NOW, millions of people will die. The Vice President poo-poos him.

Then a super colossal snowstorm hits the British Isles. The temperature at the "eye" of this storm is so cold that helicopters flying into it instantly have their fuel hoses freeze, and when the survivors crash-land and open the doors, *they* instantly flash-freeze in place too. Dr. Quaid's British weatherstation buddy calls him and tells him that helicopter fuel freezes at -150 degrees Fahrenheit. (In reality, kerosene -- which is the fuel used in aviation turbines -- freezes at about -100 degrees Fahrenheit, but we'll ignore this scientific faux pas.)

Armed with this new and alarming data, Dennis Quaid tells the Vice President of the U.S. that a terrible, traumatic climate shift is coming, and if he doesn't do something RIGHT NOW, millions of people will die. The Vice President poo-poos him.

Then tornadoes hit Los Angeles. And not any old tornadoes either. These are, like, Force 12 tornadoes or something. One of them deliberately attacks the Hollywood sign.

Armed with this new and alarming data, Dennis Quaid tells the Vice President of the U.S. that a terrible, traumatic climate shift is coming, and if he doesn't do something RIGHT NOW, millions of people will die. The Vice President poo-poos him.

Then a gigantic tidal wave hits New York City and covers everything in water 25 feet deep, stranding Dennis Quaid's son in the New York Public Library. But don't worry, a chick he has the hots for is stranded in the library with him, so we know he'll eventually have someone to boink. Worse, the new water level doesn't recede after the tidal wave hits; it STAYS 25 feet deep and then freezes over. (How does the shutting down of the North Atlantic current cause the sea level to suddenly rise 25 feet? Roland Emmerich must have learned his climatology from _Waterworld_.)

Armed with this new and alarming data, Dennis Quaid tells the Vice President of the U.S. that a terrible, traumatic climate shift is coming, and if he doesn't do something RIGHT NOW, millions of people will die. The Vice President poo-poos him.

Finally, however, the President decides to hear Dr. Quaid out. Quaid recommends evacuating everybody in the U.S. south of the Mason-Dixon line, and advising everybody in the northern U.S. to stay indoors because they'll instantly freeze to death in that -150 degree Fahrenheit air that's coming. He then puts on some snowshoes and treks out with his two rag-tag researcher buddies in tow, to go and fetch his son from the New York Public Library. (Just what he expects to DO to help his son once he reaches him is anybody's guess.)

As the President puts the evacuation plan into action, millions of Americans are stopped trying to cross the border into Mexico. It seems the Mexican government doesn't want any American immigrants. Ha ha, get it? Hilarity ensues.

Meanwhile, in the New York Public Library, Quaid's son's girlfriend is dying from an infected cut. Her only hope is to get some antibiotics. Conveniently, an ocean-going cargo ship had earlier sailed down the street right outside the library, and is now frozen in place there. (I swear I am not making this up.) So, Quaid's son and two of his buddies make the daunting journey out of the protective cocoon of the library and into the ship's waiting jaws. Unbeknownst to our intrepid hero's son, however, four timberwolves have escaped from the local zoo, and the harsh weather has turned them into killer zombie vampire demon timberwolves or something. They've become really really really super mean. They gang up on our hero's son and his pals while they're raiding the ship, and our hero's son now has to fight off the wolves, drag a newly-injured buddy behind him, get that vial of penicillin to his girlfriend before she croaks, and outrace the supercooled -150 degree Fahrenheit air that just happened to pick THIS moment to descend upon New York.

On his way to rescue his son, Dennis Quaid accidentally hikes on top of a shopping mall and loses one of his rag-tag researchers when he falls through the ceiling glass. Then he, too, gets caught in the supercooled -150 degree Fahrenheit air that's descending on New York. Ah, action and drama. We've seen movie heroes outrun tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, sandstorms, approaching armies, and countless fireballs, but there's nothing quite like the suspense of watching a movie hero outrun an encroaching frost line.

Oh, and I forgot to mention -- while all this is going on, Dennis Quaid's wife, who her self is a doctor in a hospital, is tending to a cute little boy with cancer. Unfortunately, when the hospital she's working in is evacuated, somebody miscounted and no ambulance is available to carry the cute little boy with cancer away. So, bravely, she elects to stay behind and take the slim chance that, eventually, an ambulance will arrive. Millions of people have already died or been seriously injured from tornadoes and tidal waves and flash-freezing, but darn it, there's a *cute little boy with cancer* that needs her attention.

Finally, the storm subsides, the astronauts stranded aboard the International Space Station look at Europe when Houston asks them to look at North America, Dennis Quaid is reunited with his son, the ambulance arrives for the cute little boy with cancer, and the Vice President sees the error of his ways and learns the True Meaning of Christmas. Everybody has a great big group hug as the Vice President makes a speech about the evils of consuming natural resources or not flossing your teeth between meals or something.

The funniest part in this movie, for me, came in the closing credits. It said the movie was inspired by the book _The Coming Super-Storm_, written by ART BELL and WHITNEY STREIBER. That's right: a movie about the dangers of global warming was based on a book written by two UFO conspiracy theorists. Now we know why the science in this movie was so (ahem) stellar.


As disaster movies go, this one is okay. It's got the tornadoes from _Twister_, it's got the tidal wave hitting Manhattan from _Deep Impact_ (sans World Trade Center towers, of course), and it's even got the crack in the ground deliberately chasing after people from _10.5_. But there's one thing it's missing that keeps it from being a true Roland Emmerich classic:

I'm of course talking about NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

Everybody knows that to save the earth, you have to detonate nuclear weapons. It worked in _Deep Impact_, it worked in _Armageddon_, it worked in _The Core_, and it worked in _10.5_. Dennis Quaid should have convinced the President to lob a 2-megaton strategic thermonuclear warhead into the heart of one of those superstorms. Given standard disaster movie physics, it would've cleared the storm right up and averted the Ice Age that followed.






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