The Day After Tomorrow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The visuals lacked significant problems but didn’t quite prosper well enough to get up to “A”-level.
Sharpness presented the only minor issues. Most of the movie came across as nicely detailed and distinctive. However, some shots looked just a little soft, largely due to a bit of light edge enhancement. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, though, and the movie lacked any form of source defects.
With its preponderance of snow and ice, Day didn’t offer a very broad color scheme. Nonetheless, its hues came across smoothly. The film displayed its chilly bluish tint well, and the occasional brighter tones looked concise and vivid. Blacks were deep and firm, and low-light shots appeared appropriately dark but not too thick. Overall, this was a good transfer.
Based on experiences with prior Roland Emmerich movies, I expected stunning audio from The Day After Tomorrow, and I got it. The movie boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks, and each one fared wonderfully. The DTS mix worked just a little better, but viewers will feel happy with whichever one they choose.
With all the violent weather elements, Day featured a myriad of exciting auditory situations, and the DTS mix explored these enormously well. The first half of the flick offered the broadest range of information. Hailstorms, tornadoes, walls of water - the movie packed in a slew of dynamic and involving elements. It also handled the quieter sequences well, with audio that presented a natural sense of atmosphere. The mix used the spectrum to great effect, as it featured many bits and pieces from each of the five channels and meshed them together smoothly.
The track didn’t disappoint when it came to audio quality. Speech always sounded concise and crisp, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. With all the effects, music got stuck in the background, but the score came across as bright and lively. The effects were the stars of the show. They sounded accurate, dynamic and vibrant. Highs seemed clear and lows appeared enormously deep and powerful. The entire thing packed a real wallop.
Why did I go with a slightly higher grade for the DTS mix? I felt it exhibited noticeably superior bass response. For the Dolby track, low-end could sound somewhat loose and boomy. Those concerns never became serious, and if I’d not heard the DTS track, they might not have stood out at all. However, they became apparent by comparison and made the DTS version the better of the pair. It’s an active and immersive auditory wonder to behold.
If you hope that this version of The Day After Tomorrow will improve on the picture and sound quality of the original DVD, you’ll not find any change here. Both DVDs present virtually identical visuals and audio. Since the old disc looked and sounded great, I didn’t see this as a problem.
For this new two-disc “All-Access Collector’s Edition” of The Day After Tomorrow, we find all the materials from the original DVD plus plenty of new ones. I’ll connote supplements from the first release with an asterisk, so if you fail to see that little star, it’s a new component.
On DVD One, we get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from *co-writer/director Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon, both of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. As exemplified in the discussion that accompanies The Patriot, Emmerich can be extremely inarticulate. His prior pairings with producer Dean Devlin exacerbated this tendency; Devlin didn’t say a whole lot, so Emmerich was left with tons of space to fill. He did so in a less than concise manner.
Happily, matters improve substantially here. Unlike Devlin, Gordon proves lively and chatty, so Emmerich doesn’t get the chance to babble. They focus on a lot of technical elements and only occasionally delve into other issues. We learn a lot about effects, sets, locations and logistics, though they provide a smattering of information about the cast, the script, and creative topics. For example, Emmerich tells us about the story’s origins and development as well as how 9/11 affected it.
Tons of happy talk shows up here, and the level of information generally seems slight. However, this becomes a very entertaining track thanks to the hyper presence of Gordon. As with his Speed commentary, Gordon offers an irreverent presence and he’s not afraid to make fun of his own movie. He gleefully points out plot flaws and other mistakes, and he even mocks himself for all the praise he gushes. Emmerich gets caught up in the energy, and this actually seems to focus him, as he proves more interesting than in the past. Will you learn much from this track? Probably not, but you’ll have a lot of fun along the way.
For the second commentary, we receive notes from *co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, director of photography Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner, and production designer Barry Chusid. It sounded like the men sat in pairs and recorded separate running, screen-specific commentaries that later got cut together. It appears that this split the participants into Steiger/Chusid and Nachmanoff/Brenner teams. The piece flowed smoothly nonetheless, as the editing made it work.
One can infer the topics of conversation via a scan of the men’s titles, as the subjects follow expected dimensions. We learn about modifications made to the original script, deleted sequences, altered pieces, and reworking some parts via editing. We get notes about the cinematography and the look of the film along with visual effects and those challenges. Some of the more technical elements get a little dry at times, but usually the material remains interesting and useful. I especially like the discussions of rewrites and editing as they give us a solid feel for how much work goes on after the script is done. The whole package offers a good look at the nuts and bolts elements of making Day. It’s not quite as entertaining as the Gordon/Emmerich track, but it’s much more illuminating.
Fox Flix includes some ads. We find trailers for Independence Day, Master and Commander, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and X2: X-Men United.
That finishes the first disc and sends us to DVD Two, where we find materials broken down into five areas. “Pre-Production” presents four elements. Previsualization lasts five minutes, nine seconds as it shows this form of computer-generated storyboard. We also hear notes from visual effects supervisor Karen Goulekas. She discusses the techniques and methods used to plan Day as we watch the previz sequences. Text occasionally pops onscreen to define various terms as well. This offers a nice look at the early visual design for the flick and how it helps plot out the flick.
In Pre-Production Meeting, we take a six-minute and 46-second glimpse at a November 1, 2002 gathering. There we see Emmerich chat along with Chusid, Goulekas, Gordon, Steiger, first AD Kim Winther, sound mixer Don Cohen, costume designer Renee April, and special effects supervisor Neil Corbould. They go over various production concerns. The material is somewhat dry, and the production values of the piece are rough; it can be tough to make out what they say at times. Nonetheless, I like this “fly on the wall” material, and it’s interesting to see some of the elements on the minds of the production team early in the process.
Two collections of stillframes finish “Pre-Production”. We get a Storyboard Gallery (463 images across 11 scenes) and a Concept Art Gallery (171 stills across 17 subjects). A lot of good shots appear in both places, largely due to the amazing detail in many of the images. These aren’t basic sketches; instead, they present rich and vivid art that’s a treat to see.
Next we head to the “Production” domain and Two Kings and a Scribe: A Filmmaking Conversation. Hosted by filmmaker James Christie Walker, this 48-minute and 22-second program features raw footage from various stages of the production. Walker sits down to chat with Emmerich, Gordon, and Nachmanoff, and we also get some remarks from attorney John Diemer, agent Michael Wimer, UCLA meteorologist James Murakami, executive producers Ute Emmerich and Kelly Van Horn, and composer Harald Kloser. In addition to the footage from the set, we learn about the origins of the film and its development, finding financing, stages and locations, various story and character choices, problems with the ending, fictional science, reshoots, cutting characters, the use of an outside dialogue writer, casting and Emmerich’s collaboration with his sister, and general thoughts about the project.
While I like “Scribe”, I think it doesn’t quite balance its two sides all that well. It blends the behind the scenes bits with the interviews in a moderately awkward way and never seems quite sure which path it wants to take. That said, I do like the emphasis on the script and those issues, and we get a pretty good look at those issues. This never becomes a great documentary, but it includes enough valuable material to succeed.
Under the “Post-Production” banner we locate four components. Pushing the Envelope: Visual Effects lasts 31 minutes and 33 seconds as it presents remarks from Emmerich, Goulekas, visual effects supervisors Greg and Colin Strause, digital effects supervisor Bryan Grill, CG supervisor David Prescott, visual effects supervisor Remo Balcells, visual effects supervisor Christopher Horvath, ILM animation supervisor Dan Taylor, ILM creature development supervisor Corey Rosen, ILM CG supervisor Gregor Lakner, and ILM visual effects art director Alex Laurant.
The piece starts with a look at the effects created for the opening sequence and proceeds through shots from space, tornadoes, the helicopter crash, the storm tide, the wolves, and the New York “big freeze” and its aftereffects. Almost inevitably, “Envelope” can be a bit dry. However, it fares as a pretty complete examination of all the movie’s effects. It gets into the elements well, as it never becomes too technical or wonky. It moves quickly and offers as a good overview of the issues.
When we shift to Scoring, we find a 10-minute and 15-second featurette. It mostly just shows recording sessions; to my surprise, it includes no interviews. Instead, we watch composer Kloser instruct his collaborators and see the orchestra record the material. We view their sessions alongside the appropriate shots from the movie. None of this is particularly interesting, unfortunately. Except for some text overlays that discuss connected topics, we learn very little from “Scoring”.
*Audio Anatomy touts itself as an “interactive sound demo”. This allows us to examine the “RAF Helicopters Scene” via seven different stems: dialogue, helicopter sound design, engines, ice and wind, sound effects, foley, and music. We also get the chance to hear them all packed together. The 109-second segment offers a cool way to inspect the various elements, though it’s too bad the track only uses 2.0 audio and not the full 5.1 capabilities.
10 deleted scenes last a total of 18 minutes and 30 seconds. The original release included two cut sequences: “Scene 25: Gary’s Shady Deal/Taka Dies” (two minutes, 45 seconds) and “Scene 209-210B: First Version of Jack and Jason After the Big Freeze” (3:44). Those repeat here along with eight more we didn’t see the first time. The new snippets include “Kids Study” (1:33), “Hurricane Hunter/Kona Beach” (4:21), “Gary Vs. Foster” (0:47), “Tommy’s Big Break” (0:55), “Stock Market Crash” (1:11), “Ask Mexico for Help” (0:58), Campbell & Co.:/Last Exit to Brooklyn” (0:41) and “Wolf Chase Part 2” (1:31).
These vary between general character exposition and new action scenes. Obscure character Gary - the sleazy stockbroker barely seen in the final cut - gets the biggest boost, as he turns into a bigger presence via some added bits. A few other characters receive greater definition, like a TV weatherman. None of these are consequential, but they’re fun to see.
Most interesting is probably the short but dynamic set piece in Hawaii, as it offers a pretty good sequence. It and some others suffer from an absence of completed effects; we see text that reads things like “house flies away” but don’t see it. Again, you won’t find anything scintillating here, but the deleted scenes are interesting to watch.
We can view these scenes with or without commentary from Emmerich and Gordon. They occasionally let us know why they cut the scenes, but usually they do little more than present some minor production notes and narrate the clips. Don’t expect to learn much from them.
Under “The Science” comes a program called The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change. It goes for 60 minutes and 19 seconds as it includes notes from Nachmanoff, Gordon, Emmerich, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Director Emeritus Howard Ris, Jr., UCS Global Environment Director Peter C. Frumhoff, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Lloyd Keigwin, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography paleoclimatologist Jeffrey Severinghaus, Harvard University Professor James McCarthy, Woods Hole Research Center founder and director George Woodwell, David Brinkman of Brinkman and Associates Reforestation Ltd., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Raymond Schmitt, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography research marine physicist Tim Barnett, Yale University Dean of Environmental Studies Professor James Gustave Speth, World Resources Institute Climate Program director Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Potsdam University professor of ocean physics Stefan Rahmstorf, Carbon Management Group CEO and principal Michael Molitor, United Nations Foundation president Senator Timothy Wirth, “Pentagon Abrupt Climate Change Scenario” co-author Peter Schwartz, World Bank Director for Environment Dr. Robert T. Watson, Greenpeace USA executive director John Passacantando, Harvard University Energy Technology Innovation Project director Kelly Sims Gallagher, Pew Center on Global Climate Change president Hon. Eileen Claussen, Canadian Minister of the Environment Hon. David Anderson, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment executive director Sister Pat Daly, World Resources Institute senior economist Duncan Austin, Interfaith Council for Corporate Responsibility’s Leslie Lowe, Yale University graduate students Elizabeth Martin and Dani Simons, Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, and Congressmen Wayne Gilchrest and John Oliver.
They discuss the current understanding of environmental issues, potential future problems and the concept of “climate change”, various modern calamitous events and developments as well as their ramifications, possible effects, methods that can be taken to change matters and movements in that direction, efforts from US lawmakers and our society’s legacy. “Force” presents a disturbing look at the situation. It certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture about the current situation and prospects for the future, especially since the participants don’t seem all that optimistic politicians and corporations will do what’s necessary. “Force” provides a good broad look at the various issues and depicts the concerns well.
Finally, another area offers “Trailers and TV Spots”. We get the teaser and two theatrical trailers for Day plus ads for The Alien Quadrilogy, Alien Vs. Predator and Man on Fire. Oddly, no real TV spots pop up here, unless we consider the non-Day ads to fit into that category.
An inconsistent but mostly interesting disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow demonstrates the usual strengths and weaknesses seen in the films of Roland Emmerich. It includes some solid action pieces and production values but suffers from thin characters and a dull story. The DVD offers good picture along with stunning audio as well as a rich and detailed collection of extras.
Despite its flaws, Day After Tomorrow is fun enough to earn my recommendation. If you don’t own the single-disc release, definitely get this special edition; it boasts all the original’s strengths and adds a surfeit of nice supplements. If you do have the first version, should you upgrade to the SE? Yes, but only if you want to learn more about the production. You’ll get no boost in picture or audio quality, so the second disc of extras is the sole draw. I think they’re worth the second purchase, as they’re consistently informative and engaging.
To rate this film, visit the orignal review of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW