As is the trend for today, this is the Special Edition re-release of The Day After Tomorrow tagged as the All-Access Collector’s Edition. As much of this set is the same as the original release, pieces of this review will be taken from our prior review of The Day After Tomorrow.
Storms both freakish and intense devastate the planet. Climatologist Dennis Quaid realizes that the world is on the brink of a sudden new ice age. As a freezing hurricane descends upon the US, Quaid must struggle through the snow and killing cold to reach a crippled New York City, 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 the plot very familiar. And yet, this is probably Roland Emmerich’s finest film (is he benefiting from the absence of frequent collaborator Dean Devlin?). The comic relief that so marred Independence Day and (especially) Godzilla is kept to a minimum, and the characters 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 phony solutions (such as Mac-compatible aliens) this time around. For disaster movie fans, this is the purest and most satisfying since at least Dante’s Peak.
This time around we get the same Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks found on the previous release. The two tracks are both superb, and the difference between 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 effects will chill you to the bone, and the explosions are deafening. The sound effect placement is superb. For example, when, in the opening scene, the ice cracks in a circle, the sound travels in just that circle around the room. Nicely done.
As is with the audio, the video transfer is the same gorgeous 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation as found on the previous release (anyone plumping for a fullscreen version is robbing him/herself of stunning vistas of destruction). There is no grain or edge enhancement. The colors are very strong — I don’t remember the sunsets being so beautiful in the theatrical release. If I have one tiny quibble, it’s that some of the flesh tones have exaggerated pink highlights.
The Special Features are where this set really shines… and is the only real difference between this release and the original version. The only two extras from the first DVD release also made their way to this set… and they would be two audio commentaries. Emmerich is joined by producer Mark Gordon on the first. Interesting info (such as the fact that they knew damn well that Kenneth Welsh looked like Dick Cheney when they cast him as vice-president) is interrupted too often as the two distract themselves. 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 Barry Chusid.
The remainder of the new extras are divided into five sections:
- Pre-Production: Here we get a 5-minute “Previsualization” feature, a 7-minute “Pre-Production Meeting” feature, and Storyboard and Concept Art galleries. These extras give you an idea of how the concepts were created from group discussions to low-res computer graphics.
- Production: This section is comprised of a single, 48-minute documentary entitled “Two Kings and a Scribe: A Filmmaking Conversation.” This documentary is a little long for what it is, but some moments of it will be worth checking out.
- Post Production: This section is comprised of three featurettes: “Pushing the Envelope“, “Scoring” & “Audio Anatomy: The Final Mix Interactive Demo“. These featurettes focus on the special effects, the score (go figure), and a helicopter scene sound demonstration. There are also 10 Deleted Scenes that feature optional audio commentary by Emmerich and Gordon. The “Audio Anatomy” and Deleted Scenes are both also carry-overs from the first DVD release for of The Day After Tomorrow.
- The Science: This section also includes only a single extras, an hour-long documentary entitled “The Force of Destiny: The Science and Politics of Climate Change.” This documentary includes interviews with various scientists, environmentalists, and politicians discussing global warming and climate change. Not the most entertaining watch, but interesting none-the-less.
- Trailers and TV Spots: As can be expected, this section includes teasers and trailers for “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Alien Quadrilogy,” “Alien Vs. Predator,” and “Man on Fire.”
An enormously fun disaster movie. And when was the last time one of these things was politically controversial? We live in interesting times. This re-release is worth while only if you are itching for a bunch of new special features, since the audio and video are the same as the previous release.