Storms both freakish and intense devastate the planet. Climatologist Dennis Quaid realizesthat the world is on the brink of a sudden new ice age. As a freezing hurricane descends uponthe US, Quaid must struggle through the snow and killing cold to reach a crippled New YorkCity, where his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) is huddled with other survivors in the Public Library.
The science is preposterous rubbish from start to finish, the dialogue is laughable, and theplot…very familiar. And yet, this is probably Roland Emmerich’s finest film (is he benefiting fromthe absence of frequent collaborator Dean Devlin?). The comic relief that so marredIndependence Day and (especially) Godzilla is kept to a minimum, and thecharacters take the catastrophes deadly seriously, and so we are more inclined to do so as well.The special effects are spectacular, the destruction utterly convincing, and there are no phonysolutions (such as Mac-compatible aliens) this time around. For disaster movie fans, this is thepurest and most satisfying since at least Dante’s Peak.
Both 5.1 and DTS are on offer here. The two tracks are both superb, and the differencebetween the two barely detectable, if at all. The DTS might have a slightly more resonant bass,but the nuance is minute. In either case, the music has a big, expansive sound, the wind effectswill chill you to the bone, and the explosions are deafening. The sound effect placement issuperb. For example, when, in the opening scene, the ice cracks in a circle, the sound travels injust that circle around the room. Nicely done.
The picture is also gorgeous, here in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation (anyoneplumping for a fullscreen version is robbing him/herself of stunning vistas of destruction). Thereis no grain or edge enhancement. The colours are very strong — I don’t remember the sunsetsbeing so beautiful in the theatrical release. If I have one tiny quibble, it’s that some of the fleshtones have exaggerated pink highlights.
Two commentaries. Emmerich is joined by producer Mark Gordon on the first. Interestinginfo (such as the fact that they knew damn well that Kenneth Welsh looked like DickCheney when they cast him as vice-president) is interrupted too often as the two distractthemselves. The other talk is more serious, and certainly technical, as its participants are co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, DP Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner and production designer BarryChusid. “Audio Anatomy” breaks the sound of the RAF helicopters scene down into 8 separatetracks for you to play with. There are two deleted scenes, and the DVD-ROM features have tonsof making-of footage. The menu’s intro, main screen and transitions are animated and scored,while the secondary screens are scored.
An enormously fun disaster movie. And when was the last time one of these things waspolitically controversial? We live in interesting times.
Special Features List
- 2 Audio Commentaries
- “Audio Anatomy” Interactive Sound Demo
- DVD-ROM Features