19 Aug 2015

DISASTER FILMS - The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Films have formulas and rules, but how well do Disaster films follow those formulas?

The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 film about climate change causing a freezing event in the northern hemisphere.

The following will include spoilers for

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

RULE #1 - Characters

"I would say that you've lost your mind... but you've been this way for the 20 past years." ~ Tom Gomez.

  • Male lead - Professor Jack Hall, climate scientist.  Attacked by Vice President at climate change conference leading to him being scolded at work for the same reason.  Estranged from wife and son due to travelling so much and repeatedly forgetting to pick son up. Does action hero things.  Sam Hall, Jack's son is a secondary lead, with less action scenes.
  • An Important Person - Vice President Raymond Becker. Does the economy over the environment speech at the Indian climate change conference.  Some may say the President is more important, but the film doesn't support that.
  • The usurped official -  Tom Gomez.
  • Female lead - Dr Lucy Hall.  Estranged wife of leading man.  She has her own very minor storyline involving staying with a sick child.  Laura Chapman is the girl Sam likes.  They are not estranged, but rather he hasn't told her he likes her.
  • The experienced tradesman - Professor Terry Rapson.  Pushing it,  a fellow dismissed scientist.
  • A nerdy/geeky expert - Rapson's team.  A black guy and a white guy.  Also Sam Hall and friends, a girl and a black guy.
  • A typical family The Halls, an broken family.
  • The child - Peter, a sick kid.
  • The older woman - Dr Lucy Hall.  Not that old but fills the role of protector of a child.
  • The wash-out - Luther.  Not really a washout character, beyond that a homeless person.  Has survival knowledge that others don't.
  • Animals Luther's dog.  Wild animals are shown to have a sixth sense about the approaching disaster.
  • Not appearing in this film - The new manThe loving couple; The bickering couple; The tired couple; Someone religiousThe criminal; The joker; Relatives of the important guy; Minor celebrity, 

RULE #2 - Sex & Nudity

"Shouldn't you be monitoring the weather or something?" ~ Tina.
  • Nudity - No nudity.
  • Sex - No sex, although a couple is about to have sex when he should be watching the weather.

RULE #3 - The Disaster

"I don't know. Maybe in 100 years, maybe in 1,000. But what I do know is... that if we do not act soon, our children and grandchildren will have to pay the price." ~ Professor Jack Hall.
  • Manmade Disaster - Although Hall provides evidence of a previous natural increase of greenhouse gases causing an ice age, this one is balmd on human caused climate change.
  • True Story -  The film is based on an actual theory about the effects of climate change.
  • Unreal -  The speed and scope of the events is ridiculous, leading some real climate scientist to express concern that the film makes a joke of climate change.
  • Sudden end - Although Jack portrayed the frozen north as the new normal, he said and the tone of the end of the film suggested that large storms and wild weather was, suddenly, gone and there was now balance.

RULE #4 - Endangered

"You predicted it would happen." ~ Professor Terry Rapson.
"Yes, but not in our life time. This is too fast." ~ Professor Jack Hall.
  • Warning issued too late - Of course, climate change warning have been happening for a long time, but Hall's specific warning were made days before the disaster, making it too late for any changes to stop it.  A guy was trying to get sex instead of watching the weather leading to the tornado warning probably coming too late.
  • Rescuers -  Sam, Brian and JD head out to get medicine.
  • The stubborn -  The policeman who leads a large group of survivors out to their death.
  • Meetings - A number of meetings that go nowhere.
  • Did not happen - Warnings, An Event; Unheard warnings; Fear; Arguments, Sneaking out, Criminal activity.

RULE #5 - Destruction

"This tornado just came and erased the Hollywood sign. The Hollywood sign is gone. It's just shredded." ~ Bart.
  • Panoramic opening - Cinemasin's "Everything Wrong with The Day After Tomorrow" describes the film's second sin as "Two and a half minutes of aerial ice credits."  
  • Warning bouts of destruction - Cracking ice-shelf, hailstorm in Japan.
  • Landmarks - The Hollywood sign in a tornado, the Chrysler Building in a freezing eye of the storm.  Despite being hit by a giant wave and freezing the Statue of Liberty for once remains intact.
  • The tipping point - The tornadoes hitting LA, immediately after a hailstorm.
  • Ongoing destruction - The beginning of a new ice age.  That's the definition of an ongoing event.  They use a number of different events:  Hailstorms, tornadoes, sudden temperature drops, wave surges to keep up the destruction.  Then throw in things like escaped wolves for little to no reason.
  • The final event - The freezing cold in the eye of the storm.

RULE #6 - Death

"The storm is going to get bad.  Really, really bad.  You're not going to be able to survive it." ~ Sam Hall.
  • Prelude deaths - Random Japanese people in a hailstorm in Toyko.
  • Mass casualties - The LA tornadoes.
  • The black guy - Perhaps the Japanese killed early count as minorities dying first.  Simon, as one of Rapson's team doesn't really count because they all pretty much die together.  Brian survives.
  • An important person - The President dies, but the Vice President lives.
  • The experienced tradesman  Rapson's team.
  • Reminders of danger - One of those people who left the library.
  • Bad options - The entire group who left the library.
  • Sacrifice - Frank Harris, cut his own rope so Jack and Jason would get off the breaking glass.
  • Pets - Luther's dog survives.
  • Deaths not occuring The older woman; The noble death; Panic; Children; One half of a couple; The usurped official; The bad coward;Slow death; The good coward; The male lead.

RULE #7 - Last Ditch Group

"Professor, it's time you got out of there." ~ Professor Jack Hall.
"I'm afraid that time has come and gone, my friend." ~ Professor Terry Rapson.
"What can we do?" ~ Professor Jack Hall.
"Save as many as you can." ~ Professor Terry Rapson.
  • Heroes - Jack Hall and workmates: Frank Harris and Jason Evans, who head back to Manhattan to save...
  • Survivors  Sam Hall, friends and fellow survivors:  Laura Chapman, Brian Parks, JD, Luthor and others.

RULE #8 - Ridiculous Solutions

"I will come for you, do you understand me? I will come for you." ~ Professor Jack Hill.
  • Outrun -  First a surge of water.  Later running from... well, the cold, actually.
  • A plan  The plan amounted to telling his son to stay in the library and going through danger to get to him after the danger past.
  • Big & simple -  Actually pretty small and simple.
  • Critical fail -  Jack is almost caught out in the freezing eye of the storm.  Also a brief moment thinking the library was buried under the snow.
  • Time -  There is a race against the oncoming storm.
  • Instant - The film jumps to a couple of hours later and everything is OK.  The US government is soon able to send helicopters to save many peoples.
  • Explosive - Pretty much the opposite.

RULE #9 - Happily Ever After

Only a few hours ago, I received word that a small group of people survived in New York City against all odds and in the face of tremendous adversity.  I've ordered an immediate search-and-rescue mission to bring them home and to look for more survivors." ~ President Raymond Becker.
  • Reunited:  Jack & Sam are reunited, Jack and Lucy seem to be on better terms long before the film ends.
  • Together:  The couple are really Sam and Laura who are snuggling at the end.
  • Vindicated:  Jack's theories, and their application, are vindicated.
  • Retribution:  Clearly nature's retribution.
  • Lesson:  The now-President has to admit on television that we shouldn't ignore the environment.
  • Or not...:  Lots of army helicopters save people.  Seems fossil fuels are still being used a lot.
  • Sunrise:  Not immediately, but after the storm dissipates there is such a moment
  • Beautiful: Some beautiful ruin shots and a final shot of the Earth, which a Astronaut notes has the clearest skies he's seen.

RULE #10 - Sequels

"The fact that my first address to you comes from a consulate on foreign soil... is a testament to our changed reality." ~ President Raymond Becker.
  • Sequels -  No sequels.
  • Remakes - No remakes.
No sequels.    However, notes are made for future reference.
  • More deaths - Unknown number of deaths, but it would have to be a large percentage of the population of the northern hemisphere.  At least as big as Deep Impact, probably bigger.
  • More effects - Lost of large effects throughout the film, especially towards the end.
  • Better effects - Still great effects.
  • More Formulaic - Mostly formulaic.
~ DUG.
Please do the survey to determine future rule sets.

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