Day After Tomorrow, The: One-Disc Edition (2004)

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Released 5-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Roland Emmerich (Director/Co-writer) & Mark Gordon(Producer)
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 118:35
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roland Emmerich
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Dennis Quaid
Jake Gyllenhaal
Emmy Rossum
Dash Mihok
Jay O. Sanders
Sela Ward
Austin Nichols
Arjay Smith
Tamlyn Tomita
Sasha Roiz
Ian Holm
Nassim Sharara
Carl Alacchi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Harald Kloser
Thomas Wanker


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to huge action films. Films to his directorial credit include Independence Day, Stargate, The Patriot and the very lacklustre Godzilla. His name is perhaps synonymous with the term 'summer blockbuster' - which really by now should be a genre in its own right. Indeed 'Emmerich' should be a genre in his own right. Here he remains true to form with this big budget and big FX disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow. Those familiar with the alien and lizard films could be forgiven for thinking that this is merely another special effects driven action movie with little in the way of substance, but I'm happy to say that this is far from the truth. While the script is at times a little predictable, and some of the usual Emmerich clichés can still be found, The Day After Tomorrow is a well crafted and well executed film. And although it may be more science fiction than science fact it does carry with it a hard hitting message that we need to start looking after this humble little planet called Earth.

     While the scientific accuracy of The Day After Tomorrow may not stand up to serious scrutiny, the film's very realistic visual effects do a great job of suspending your disbelief. In a time where most audiences tend to be rather blasé about computer graphics it does take something very spectacular to make a film stand out from the crowd. The Day After Tomorrow not only stands out from the crowd but raises the benchmark just a little bit higher. Just like Independence Day was in its time, The Day After Tomorrow is at the forefront of visual effects and many of the sequences throughout the film are enough to make your jaw drop. The water effects in particular, while still not 'perfect', have advanced considerably in the last few years. You need simply to look back at a movie like The Perfect Storm to see how far the technology has come in only a few short years. Once again the special effects artists have edged ever closer to that thin line that separates computer graphics and true photo realism. Indeed, as far as The Day After Tomorrow is concerned it is only the clarity of DVD that gives some of the effects away. Due to the inherent image diffusion of theatrical film prints it is very nearly impossible to visually pick the digital effects at the cinema now - digital projection will no doubt change this and make the job of the visual effects artist all the more difficult.

     The Day After Tomorrow is a spectacular film from start to finish and has remained that way despite the transfer to the small screen. Then again, while the screen may have gotten smaller, the sound has remained just as big - more on that shortly. Something that has also transferred over from the cinema to the DVD is a short anti-piracy ad which comes up immediately after the disc has loaded - yes, it's the one you've been seeing at the cinemas lately about downloading pirated movies. I guess it's not as objectionable as a series of static warnings. But a word of warning to those responsible for the ad - downloading a pirated movie off the Internet had never occurred to me prior to seeing that ad. While I do purchase all my movies legally, I'm sure there are others out there who won't now that you've brought this possibility to their attention.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very smooth yet detailed transfer that is very nearly impossible to fault. Detail is exemplary throughout the film, but this does however trigger some minor aliasing from time to time like on the buildings at 47:05 during the wave sequence. Shadow detail is also extremely good with the film exhibiting a high contrast range. The cinematographer Ueli Steiger reveals in the second commentary that Roland Emmerich wanted some scenes dark, to the point of underexposing, which is testament to the contrast range of film as it still manages to retain details in the blacks.

     Colour reproduction is extremely realistic and vibrant - a clear reflection on the choice of film stock. Skin tones are very accurate.

     There is nothing in the way of MPEG artefacts - this is as close to transparent compression as you can get. As previously mentioned there are some trivial instances of aliasing present but nothing that is likely to distract the viewer until the end credits. The inherent detail in the image has caused absolute havoc in the credits, making them flicker profusely but because it is isolated to the credits I am very reluctant to deduct any points for this. Those of you watching the film using progressive scan equipment (the way films should be watched) will likely have no problems whatsoever. Film artefacts are completely absent - I didn't spot a single one (and I was looking).

     There are three sets of subtitles present - English for the hearing impaired as well as two tracks for the commentaries. I sampled all the tracks and found them to be very accurate.

     This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring mid-scene at 61:24. It is not distracting with only a brief pause in the audio giving its location away. The main file size is 6062Mb.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Within the first few minutes the term 'reference quality' began to creep into my mind and by the end of the first hour this had all but been confirmed.

     The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbs) and English DTS 5.1 (754Kbs). I listened to the DTS track in its entirety and sampled specific chapters in Dolby Digital.

     Dialogue is very clear with no issues to speak of. There are no problems with sync. There was a few instances where my keen ear detected some ADR but few people will notice this - the dialogue has been extremely well recorded and sonically matched to the location.

     The music is by Harald Kloser and for the most part is your typical slightly over-the-top score designed to further extenuate the trauma the various characters are in. Not that it needed it though - the visual effects had that more than covered. There were times, however, where the on-screen visuals needed the help of the music to draw some emotion but for whatever reason failed to do so, at least for me. If not for the subwoofer use, which I will mention in a moment, the music would be quite unremarkable.

     The surrounds are used for pretty much the entire duration of the film - there is seldom a moment of silence in any direction. The centre rear channel is also put to good but not excellent use with some ambient effects, mostly wind effects, being redirected by the ES and EX processing - one example is at 5:30. The first hour without doubt carries the bulk of the whizzy surround use - the tornadoes in Los Angeles in particular drive all the channels to the limit, much like Twister did - I wouldn't have expected anything less. Even the quieter scenes in the film still retain a lot of subtle ambience in the rears. All in all there is rarely a dull moment - this is surround sound at its best.

     The low end response throughout the film is at times phenomenal. However, it is in fact the music and not the effects which utilize the extreme bottom end of the audible spectrum to the greatest effect. Within the first minute of the film we are treated to an extremely deep resonating bass which has to be the closest to a 20Hz rumble that I've ever heard on DVD. Without a doubt this is where the quality of a subwoofer is really revealed.

     And finally Dolby Digital versus DTS. Given the 448Kbs encoding of the Dolby Digital 5.1 track there is very little separating the two. Both share the same deep resonating bass although the DTS track was slightly tighter and better defined. The music came across as being a little richer in the DTS track whereas the Dolby Digital track was a little flatter by comparison but it would be safe to say 9 out 10 people couldn't pick the difference during a blind test.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Two commentaries are all that's on offer here, if you want more you'll have to get the 2-Disc release.

Menu

     Nicely themed animated menu with audio that's easy to navigate.

Audio Commentary - Roland Emmerich (Director) & Mark Gordon (Producer)

     There is seldom a moment of silence throughout this commentary yet it seemed to cover very little ground at all. There tends to be a lot of "this is my favourite..." moment, shot, scene etc. which most people would know doesn't make for an interesting commentary. But by far my biggest gripe with this commentary is producer Mark Gordon. He has an extremely bad habit of constantly interrupting and finishing sentences which becomes exceedingly annoying to listen to after 15 or so minutes and downright torture by 90 minutes. I don't think Roland Emmerich ever managed to finish a sentence without being interrupted for the entire duration of the film. Even if not for Gordon, Emmerich has proved on previous DVDs that he's far from being the best commentator in the world so I think from the outset this commentary was a lost cause. Don't even bother with this one - go straight to commentary two

Audio Commentary - Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Co-writer), Ueli Steiger (Cinematographer), David Brenner (Editor) & Barry Chusid (Production Designer)

     This is a superior commentary to the first in every way. The four commentators appear to have been recorded in two groups of two but the audio editing has been done so well it took me quite a while to notice it. This commentary covers numerous aspects of the production including safety as well as plenty of technical details from the cinematographer which I found most interesting. Of particular note was the New York set which was actually lit by two thousand 2K lights - that's a whopping 4,000,000 watts of light! Pretty impressive stuff. The script writing and editing is also discussed, including scenes which for various reasons proved to be rather challenging in the editing. Also worth a mention is the tornado sequence in Los Angeles in which low flying helicopters were actually used to create the wind on the ground instead of wind machines.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 version of The Day After Tomorrow appears to be identical to this Region 4 release (including the presence of DTS) except there is also a separate Pan & Scan version available for those who haven't yet realised why widescreen is so much better. There is also a 2-Disc edition available in Region 4 with the following additional extras which the Americans miss out on altogether (with the exception of 2 deleted scenes and the Audio Anatomy featurette):

     Extras fans will no doubt favour the 2-Disc release but there is absolutely no reason to favour the Region 1 release.

Summary

     The Day After Tomorrow is a spectacular disaster film and a credit to Roland Emmerich - he's finally made up for the big lizard movie.

     The video transfer is of reference quality (the aliasing in the credits permitting).

     The audio transfer is of reference quality.

     Extras are of reasonable quality though the first commentary is very disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Hooft (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Monday, November 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX
SpeakersFront & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers

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