...the [tidal] wave in The Day After Tomorrow is medium-sized—just high enough to wet the face of the Statue of Liberty, but leaving her head and upraised arm sticking out of the water. Although the image was, I’m pretty sure, a nod to Planet of the Apes ’ iconic final moment, I was reminded more of a beach-going mom who’s decided to smoke and swim at the same time, determinedly holding that cigarette above the waves.
...The point is not that New Yorkers are living in fear, but that we’re not. We are neither offended nor horrified by these particular images because we have disinvested in the idea of our own destruction, opting instead for the safety of statistics. Another way of saying that 2,801 people died in the World Trade Center is to say that seven million New Yorkers didn’t. This is one of those rationalizations that is either very brave or very foolish, but it is, to all appearances, and for all intents and purposes, the way things are now.
...For Mr. Emmerich, New York would seem to embody all that is evil in our post-Revolutionary, pre-Apocalyptic nation...[it] seems to be the somewhat resigned notion that, well, we deserve what’s coming to us. Some sort of civilization-ending event initiated not by terrorists but by nature or fate, which we might here term our collective unconscious, or perhaps simply our collective stupidity...
...Or maybe he’s just some kind of tough-love junkie. In The Day After Tomorrow , he’s hit upon a narrative of particular, if somewhat belated, resonance to New Yorkers. Quaid’s against-all-odds quest trades on the sense of helplessness that all Americans, but especially New Yorkers, felt in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, as we watched the towers burn for a few minutes that seemed to last millennia, and then searched for endless weeks afterward for survivors, or at least something recognizable to put in the ground. Quaid’s command to Gyllenhaal to "stay in the building" is eerily reminiscent of the advice given to occupants of the World Trade Center after the plane hit the north tower. That advice, we now know, was a mistake—and, to Rudy Giuliani’s credit, just about the only fucking mistake that was made—and Quaid is setting out, not quite three years too late, to rectify it. Come hell or high water (both of which do come, if we accept Dante’s vision of the final pit as a lake frozen by Satan’s breath), Quaid will get his son out. And, of course, he does—dads always get their sons out in movies like The Day After Tomorrow . And when he does, guess what: everybody at my screening laughed again.
..The buildings stand, but the city, and indeed the nation, falls. The fact of the matter is, Americans, for good or ill, have made their pact with the devil, and will have their second homes and S.U.V.’s and personal electronic devices and 4.4 pounds of trash per day; and New Yorkers, in denial or acceptance, have made their peace with life in this city in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center. We are a city under threat, a threat that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or climatologist) to predict will come sooner or later, be it another bomb, or radioactive device, or chemical or biological agent. Our fear of that attack isn’t so great that we’re willing to make changes in our lifestyle—to move, or to live under a police state. Rather, we trust to the safety of the herd: It is the stragglers that will get picked off, the weak, the sick, the old, the unwary or unwise. Someone else will die; when the helicopters come to pull the survivors out, as they do at the end of The Day After Tomorrow , we believe that we will be among the pitifully small crowds gathered on the rooftops of this metropolis we’ve chosen to live in. Mr. Emmerich’s vision of the Apocalypse is just about as plausible as the one in the Book of Revelation, but that isn’t why we don’t believe it. We’re much too busy believing in stories we’ve made up all on our own.
I just love New York disaster movies. After 9/11, it will be interesting to watch a new one. This time mother nature is the culprit but it's because we as a human race failed to heed the warnings. This reviewer mentions that at her screening, New Yorkers were giggling. We're turning Californian. She's right when she says that while almost 3,000 people died on 9/11, 7 million people didn't. I always think I could never live in California because of the earthquakes, brush fires and mudslides and I am amazed how Californians go about their business as usual not thinking about their impending doom. Most of the time nothing happens and most of the time people die of natural causes. Same here.
See the trailer here.
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