The Jessica Journals:

March 09, 2005: It's The Day After Tomorrow And The Psychlos Haven't Gotten Me Yet

I am a glutton for punishment, or so it would seem. My dissection of the movie Powder garnered several comments, one of which (courtesy of a Xagan named EgregiousOne) included the following suggestion: “Perhaps you could review Day After Tomorrow, which was the god awfullest (I hope that's a word) worst movie I've seen since Battlefield Earth.” By now I expect you all know me and realize that I am fundamentally incapable of passing up a challenge of this nature. My task was made somewhat easier in that I have already watched Battlefield Earth in all its extravagance and so was left only to view The Day After Tomorrow in all its fatuity.

While this movie did not make me quite as happy as a baby Psychlo on a straight diet of kerbango, it was amusing Briefly, Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 tells the tale of one Jonnie Goodboy Tyler and his efforts to lead an enslaved humanity in revolt against the merciless hand of their evil alien overlords and oppressors the dreadlock-wearing, moon boot-sporting Psychlos. Their chief nemesis is a goatee-sporting John Travolta who spends most of the movie overlooking the fact that the humans are trying to kill him.

Forget about burning Nietzsche; I think this movie deserves at least a few flames. The Day After Tomorrow tells the tale of something...what that something is I’m not quite sure. I watched it a grand total of two times, and, while I’m sure there has to be a plot in there somewhere, I’m not sure of the specifics. In vague terms, I believe the movie centered around a climatologist named Jack Hall who is addicted to his work and estranged from his family. When cataclysmic weather changes ravage the earth he makes a desperate journey across the frozen, 230 mile wasteland between Washington D.C. and Manhattan in order to be reunited with his son (a 24-year-old Jake Gyllenhaal pretending to be a 17-year-old highschooler). His chief nemesis is alternately a bitchin’ weather system or Dick Cheney.

As you have probably already deduced, I consider Battlefield Earth to be by far the better of the two movies, and there are several reasons for that.

I don't know why they couldn't have just gotten Harrison Ford.  It's not like he's been *doing* anything lately.

  1. Dennis Quaid based his portrayal of Jack Hall on Harrison Ford. Barry Pepper based the portrayal of his character on a feral monkey.

    God knows I love Harrison Ford--I was born and raised on Star Wars--but the monkey has the greater range.

  2. Battlefield Earth attempted to turn me into a Scientologist. The Day After Tomorrow tried to turn me into a liberal.

    When it comes down to it, I’ll take L. Ron Hubbard over Al Gore any day.

  3. When the characters in Battlefield Earth needed gold they looted Fort Knox. When the characters in The Day After Tomorrow needed fire they burned books.

    What can I say. The heroes in the scientology movie were little more than cavemen but they had the brains to utilize the available resources to their fullest potential. The heroes in The Day After Tomorrow were ostensibly geniuses, but when they needed to stay warm they decided to burn the books in the New York Public Library instead of all the chairs, tables, bannisters, bookshelves, curtains, and upholstery, an action which, frankly, offends my sensibilities.

  4. The cavemen in Battlefield Earth escaped destruction by hotwiring a 1000-year-old nuclear warhead and detonating it on their enemies’ radioactively unstable planet. The hero of The Day After Tomorrow escaped the destruction wreaked by temperatures so low they freeze jet fuel in seconds by turning on the grease fryers in a fast food restaurant.

    While the scenario presented in The Day After Tomorrow has the advantage of proving that there are benefits to McDonalds, even a state-educated two-year-old can recognize the inherent improbability of the situation, whereas a person will probably be four or five before they recognize the unscientific nature of the Battlefield Earth scenario. Unless, of course, the persons in question have been home schooled in which case they’ll probably recognize both issues when they’re only one-year-old.

  5. The villain of Battlefield Earth was John Travolta. The villains of The Day After Tomorrow were mammoth ice storms and Halliburton.

    Evil corporations may devour the Earth’s natural resources like so much sugar plum, but, even when aided by nature’s furious response to their callous disregard of our delicate planet, they are in no way equal to a fanatical, scenery chewing Scientologist.

There were, I admit, some (few) good points to The Day After Tomorrow. (1) We got to pay back Mexico for the rampant illegal immigration we’ve endured at their hands, and (2) we got to pay back Mexico for the rampant illegal immigration we’ve endured at their hands. Other than that, there was not much of note to the film, unless, parroting Roger Ebert, you want to say “Thumbs up! The special effects are terrific.” (And that goes particularly for the CGI wolves that did not in any way, shape, or form remind me of the paltry level of two-bit trumpery that passes for CGI in the Harry Potter universe.)

For all its ice and snow, The Day After Tomorrow simply does not outshine Battlefield Earth; however, I believe that Matt Stone and Trey Parker were on to something when they suggested that the movie would be funnier if it was filmed entirely with puppets. If one were to take that a step further and replace Dennis Quaid with a Harrison Ford puppet, Jake Gyllenhaal with a feral Barry Pepper puppet, and show that the cause of all the queer weather activity was really a megalomaniacal John Travolta marionette doing a turn as Ming the Merciless then I think we’d have a first rate film on our hands. Until then, we’re left with dreck.


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Copyright 2005 Jessica Menn