The Day After Tomorrow

It's a fitting time for The Day After Tomorrow, almost as if director Roland Emmerich's back to show everyone from Dante's Peak to Van Helsing how it's done. It's around 10 years since computer effects came of age (Jurassic Park, 1993), and almost as long since Emmerich put it to the best use (Independence Day, 1996). Whether you loved or hated the seminal 1990's aliens attack movie, there's no denying the sequences of mammoth alien ships blowing away American cities were spectacles the likes of which we'd never seen. With just as much gleeful abandon, Emmerich trashes LA and New York (again) in two sequences which remind you he's a master of the craft of large-scale, computer-generated destruction.

Structurally, The Day After Tomorrow is like The Poseidon Adventure – the money-shot destruction scenes comprise the first and second acts, leaving the characters stricken, trying to save themselves and each other. They include climatologist Jack Hall (Quaid), who predicts the coming catastrophe, and his son Sam (Gyllenhaal), stranded in New York, where a tidal wave has swept through the city in the film's most memorable scene.

Being an American blockbuster, the audience has its share of suffering too; there's the pro-American values, hammy script and syrupy family appeal fixtures (lovable dog, sick child). But it's a standout success of the merger between filmmaking technology and imagination, so if you still tingle with excitement at the memory of the Tyrannosaur crashing out onto the road or the alien ship's weapon ominously opening up over the Empire State Building, go now.

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