Chewing my keyboard

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Day after Tomorrow...

... you will have forgotten this deeply forgettable film. Or perhaps it would have possessed an air of menace had I not known that the events it depicted were, to put it bluntly, complete dogs bollocks.

The chain of events ran as follows: enormous crack opens up in an Antarctic ice shelf in exactly the location that a group of scientists happen to be camped (convenient, ain't it?). Then, giant football sized hailstones (why?! apart from the fact that normal hailstones don't kill people) begin falling in Japan.

Next the thermo-haline circulation (THC) shuts down in a matter of hours. Now, ahem, apart from the fact it wouldn't shut down in a matter of hours (even the 'rapid' warming of Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles happened in a matter of decades) the potential of the thermo-haline circulation shutting down (AT ALL, even slowly) comes as a huge surprise to an entire room full of eminent American climatologists. In fact, this theory has been around for some time.

By this point in the proceedings, lots of extreme weather events began occurring that are in fact to do with El Nino. I don't understand ocean currents well enough to know what effect a shutdown in the THC would have on the Pacific but methinks that it wouldn't be to increase global hurricane frequency and intensity right across the globe.

At this point, the film gives up its attempt to be scientific because a few bad winters never hurt anyone (ok, they did, but great movies they don't make). So, hey ho, we were introduced to the mega-muther storm cell thingys that appeared suddenly and had a non-existent relation to the thermo-haline circulation (I would love to know the purported connection). In fact, the thermo-haline circulation was pretty much forgotten as people fast-froze and America disappeared under hundreds of metres of snow in a matter of hours (and despite the amount of water moved onto the continents, the sea-level from space looked exactly the same... hmmmmm). Sorry to break this to folks but in real-life, ice ages tend to be caused by bad winters, cooler summers and the resulting glaciation. However, again, 'Snow patch the Movie' (in which Sylvia the Snow Patch becomes a full formed cirque glacier over a matter of, erm, a fair bit of time) isn't exactly going to sell to Hollywood (minus its sign).

Apparently, this had happened before around 10,000 years ago (some grain of truth there). This patently included the very nicely rendered tornados (huh? Where did they come into things?)...

Cod science over, the film degraded into 'American people of all social groups bond in crisis' whilst our intrepid Quaternary Glaciologist fought his way to Manhattan accompanied by hard-core polar fieldwork equipment. No, I don't think he was a climatologist... He appeared to be either a Quaternary Glaciologist (using ice cores to examine past climate fluctuations and modelling past glaciations) or he could be some sort of Oceanologist (thermo-haline circulation). There is a lot of cross-over... Either way, he'd be in a geography department!

Whilst Mr Geographer & co were fighting their way to a snowed-under Statue of Liberty accompanied only by their fetching bright-orange three-man dome tent, we were exposed to the continuing tribulations of Mr Geographer's son, Donnie Darko...

Ooops, Sam, same actor. Talk about type-casting, imagine the scene:

"We'd like you to star in our exciting new feature. It makes a tenuous link to climate change to get publicity and then we run through our entire collection of CGI weather effects applied to various famous American buildings. We want you to play a late teenage pseudo-genius"

"Ummmm, but I played one of those last time"

"Yes, but last time you were a schizophrenic pseudo-genius. This time we'd just like you to be rather moody-looking"

He and his dad faced many entirely manufactured crises. As if trekking through snow without a snowmobile (?) wasn't bad enough, Mr Geographer hero had to lose one of his number falling through a mall roof. If Donnie Darko having to cross to the ship outside the public library wasn't enough of a trial (a ship which had no one aboard), then there had to be some wolves AND the centre of the 'freezing people alive' storm had to swirl overhead ALL at the same time. Oh pleeeezzzeeee...

The only thing that this is going to add to the climate debate is that lots of people are going to refuse to believe global warming is happening until the football-sized hail showers commence. It made an associated field of study to my own look rather glamorous and heroic which was nice (and international glaciologists do tend to be a hyper-healthy bunch so not TOO far-fetched) but Mr Joe Public is going to be slightly too impatient for results... I loved the way Professor Hall wanted a 'Paleoclimate model' *immediately*. Heck, people spend an entire thesis producing a model! But then again, "our intrepid hero debugs a FORTRAN routine for 2 years without success" wouldn't put many bums on seats. The use of scientific language was definitely from the Vivienne school "Well, Mr President, there's a bit of air coming in from the left. This could mean the end of galactic civilisation as we know it... or it could mean that the sensor went wrong" and probably made my supervisor cringe because he's always correcting my slovenly or non-existent use of technical terms (my supervisor, incidently, was interviewed on Classic Gold about the film and thus decided he had better tag along to see it).

The one inspired moment for which you should see this film is the remarkedly convincing news reel of desperate American refugees attempting to get through the Mexican border and then wading across the Rio Grande with their possessions on their heads. If just the rest of it had been as profound...


  • At June 8, 2004 at 2:06 AM, Blogger Sara said…

    The OTHER inspired reason you should see this movie is because it has Jake Gyllenhall in it.

    (Shallow? Moi?)


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