Harry Potter!
Cinema Signal:

Global Warming
(Essential Science Series)

. "The Day After Tomorrow"

This movie puts me in mind of a great truism: "Instant gratification isn't fast enough." And, when it comes to science, let none of that interfere with the requirements to hype nature up a bit to satisfy the need for a little drama. And, let's not let ittie things like conscience or integrity restrain the quest for a boxoffice bang.

This is a monster movie that's no better than any that have come from the pen of Stephen King. It's not a scarecrow or a car or some other inanimate inanity with an evil spirit. In this outing, it's monster storms set loose by the mechanisms of global warming. But, the notion of getting on the bad side of mother nature for a spot of mass death in order to provide some conviction and deep meaning is a premise that sputters with false foundation.

As though to let us know that they're aware of the scepticism with which their concept is likely to be greeted, (and maybe head off some laughs) director Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day"), who wrote it with Jeffrey Nachmanoff, has his central figure, climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), inform fellow scientists and the vice-president of the U.S. that the timeline for the impending ice age is on the order of 100 to 500 years. Since this is not science fiction (which it is, of course), we're not going to lap dissolve into the future. Instead, we're going to make it happen within days.

As more data come in from northerly regions of the globe, more scientists are coming around to take Jack's fears seriously, though the VP continues to resist his attempt to mobilize the country against it. That's right, take a shot at an inflexible politician who won't listen to reason!

The home folk chosen for the human warmth running against the waves of catastrophic storms and rising seas consist of Jack's brilliant son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who, with beautiful and bright Laura Chapman (Emmy Rossum), takes off to New York for a Science Decathlon, becoming flood-bound on the northerly island of finance where venturing outside is an invitation to freeze to death.

Jack and wife Dr. Lucy Hall (Sela Ward) are frantic over his safety amidst the increasing danger, ultimately leading to Jack's taking off to New York on a rescue mission that's a study in recklessness and insensibility. So, Emmerich has the image of a devoted father driving across the country going to the aid of his son, but after barely being able to get there, what's he supposed to do about saving the kid--or himself for that matter? Too embarrassing a question--one which Emmerich dodges completely with an instant miracle on the order of the instant ice age that started the whole mess.

Be that as it may, this film is worth seeing. For me, its outstanding virtues are the exemplary computer graphics that gives it almost-convincing images of a great chill, and the casting of a too-little seen actress who might, through this appearance, gain many more offers. Emmy Rossum was Sean Penn's daughter (the one who was murdered) in "Mystic River." She was also Appalachian folk-singing Deladis Slocumb in "Songcatcher" back in the day (2000).

Assisting in whatever success this adventure is able to pull out is an ensemble of sympathetic characters. While their travails and relationships might be built on thin ice, as long as we can buy into the shaky premise behind their plight, it works on a human level. After all, a monster movie needs its warm blooded surrogates acting and reacting in our behalf. It helps that they're more plausible than their situation.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Emmy Rossum and Jake Gyllenhaal (right)
Something bad's coming to Manhattan

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