"Mankind survived the last ice age. We're certainly capable of surviving this one. All depends on whether or not we're able to learn from our mistakes."
Why it's a left-wing film:
Not long after the 1996 release of his mega-blockbuster "Independence Day," you could hear director Roland Emmerich gulp. Whatever his intentions, he had made one the most patriotic tent-pole films of the '90s and the liberal entertainment media was letting him have it with the usual comments about jingoism and just how "dumb" it all was. Soon after came the widely and somewhat unfairly lambasted "Godzilla," followed by another patriotic actioner, Mel Gibson's "The Patriot."
Then something happened, probably George W. Bush becoming president, because in 2004 Emmerich let loose with "The Day After Tomorrow," a Leftist snuff fantasy and environmental wet dream where all of Western Civilization, most especially the United States, reaps what they've sewn when Mother Nature strikes back for our polluting ways with a can of CGI Whup-Ass that contains super-tornadoes, tidal waves, and insta-freeze hurricanes that all lead up to another Ice Age.
The film's Vice President of the United States intentionally looks like then-Vice President Cheney, the unsure President who helplessly asks his VP 'What do we do?", intentionally looks like Bush, and both are eventually taught a Hollywood-fantasy-lesson about getting what you deserve when you don't listen to the modern-day environmental movement. To wit, Bush's counterpart is killed in the whirlwind he enabled and Cheney's is humbled after everyone above the Mason-Dixon line is wiped out and everyone below gets a taste of poetic justice when they're forced to illegally cross into Mexico and ask for sanctuary.
"I was wrong," Mr. Movie-Cheney says of fossil fuels.
The film then ends on a "high" note with the news media informing us that those nations we once referred to as "the third world" have now generously offered to take us in. This is followed by a heartwarming outer space shot of an America destroyed by ice and an astronaut proclaiming, "I've never seen the air so clean."
And with enviro-nonsense validated, greedy America wiped out, the Third World in charge, and tens of millions of those Westerners who hurt Gaia's feelings all dead, the music soars, liberals wipe away tears of affirmation, and we fade to black.
Why it's a great film:
No one, not even Steven Spielberg, directs big action sequences as well as Roland Emmerich. It's easy to write him off as the Irwin Allen of our time, but this is the rare director who knows precisely where to set his camera and how and when to move it. Even better, he knows how to stage a big set-piece in a way that's always a feast for the eyes and stages his visual reveals with an uncanny intelligence that never fails to make perfectly clear the scope and size of what's happening, and most importantly, the geography of it all.
In the area of spectacle, Roland Emmerich is the director Michael Bay can be, the director Spielberg used to be, and so from a purely story-telling point of view -- though "ID4" is more rousingly satisfying and therefore memorable -- "The Day After Tomorrow" is far and away his best film and one of the best disaster films of all time.
The characters and actors, especially Dennis Quaid, Ian Holm, and the underappreciated Sela Ward, are all sympathetic and likable; the relationships, though simple, all make sense; the dialogue is much better than a film like this deserves; the pacing is perfect, and the film's structure -- that cuts effortlessly between all the different storylines -- could be used as a model in screenwriting courses. I especially like the subtlety at work in the Jake Gyllenhaal subplot, how his crush on a pretty schoolmate brings out the hero in him and the unexpected humanity of some of those around him.
For those of us who walked into the theatre with a chip on our shoulder -- as I did -- this is a potent combination that's completely disarming. It's impossible to not get wrapped up in this story and these characters, to not be impressed by the great ideas that help to elevate every big scene, to not be dazzled by the gorgeous destruction that never stops coming.
Outside of Emmerich's world, the enviro-propaganda is complete and laughable nonsense. But within the film, the theories not only sound intelligent, but plausible -- which is exactly what a disaster film needs in order to allow us to sit back and soak in all the glorious chaos. Best of all, the actors don't sound like propagandists, they sound like professionals putting the pieces together, solving problems, and eager to take action.
What's not on the list: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Like "Easy Rider
," I consider any film with an existential theme that screams "liberty" to be just the opposite of Leftist. Jack Nicholson's McMurphy is raging against a totalitarian system, something out of an Orwell novel, where pointlessly uniform rules break the human spirit and soulless bureaucrats and bureaucracies mercilessly fight tooth and nail against the very idea of individualism.
Have you been to a University lately? That's where you'll find Nurse Ratched today.
The Left might not have shock therapy to enforce their ideal of conformity but they do have political correctness, an overreaching federal government, rules and regulations about what we eat, what entertainment is acceptable, what speech isn't "hate," and too many complaints about how we're ungovernable.
McMurphy is one of my personal heroes and just like "Easy Rider's" Wyatt and Billy, he just wants to live in America, "watch the goddamned World Series," do his own thing, and has zero interest
in the government telling me how to do mine.
Watch both movies again and you'll not only see that these are right-of-center themed films but that the concept of Live Free or Die
is played out figuratively and
It's about freedom, man.