Disaster films capitalize on our fears and concerns and everyday concerns. That is what is responsible for making them timeless and entertaining. Some films focus on true stories or on events that are likely to happen; some films are completely fantastical, typically revolving around some small piece of reality. The Day After Tomorrow is an ordinary example of a disaster picture ripped from modern headlines. It feeds off the climate change arguments, picking a side and running with it. In fact, it reflects a change in the disaster genre as a whole: over the last decade most of the genre’s blockbusters moved from everyday issues – skyscrapers on fire, out of control trains – to future science-based dilemmas. It may be that audiences find this trend more appealing, perhaps because it promises more of a spectacle. Science-based disasters seem always to trigger the apocalypse, the end of the world, and the end of the world means we’re likely to see explosions and panic and treachery and heroism. The Day After Tomorrow offers all this in spades. It prefers a focus on characters and relationships rather than the disaster itself. The Day After Tomorrow hits all the points on the disaster genre checklist. It has plenty of action. As a disaster film, and as a film in general, The Day After Tomorrow would have been satisfying had the foolish political commentary been stripped and the film been set in the future. With a distant, divorced setting (perhaps set a hundred years from now) the narrative would move toward the fantastical. Ironically, its message would have been more powerful taking place in a future world. Then, with all its interesting and entertaining special effects, the film would be a better entry in the disaster genre.
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