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The best scenes in 'The Day After Tomorrow,' a great Christmas rewatch
There have been several days after tomorrow since the movie's 2004 release. Here are the most memorable moments from the film.
This year’s Disney animated film Strange World wasn’t the first time that Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal played father and son. Way back in 2004, the two actors took on the characters of Jack and Sam Hall, another father-son combo who face the sudden freezing of the world because of climate change.
That film, of course, was The Day After Tomorrow, the blockbuster sci-fi thriller that channels ‘90s films like Independence Day and Twister to give us a potential doomsday scenario where billions of people freeze to death when the ocean gets less salty (or something like that).
Winter is officially here, and The Day After Tomorrow might be a fun movie to rewatch while staying nice and cozy on your couch. To get you warmed up for your viewing (see what we did there), here are the film’s greatest Climaggedon moments.
Los Angeles gets wrecked by mega-tornadoes
No one believes paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Quaid) when he says that the Earth is going to freeze up in days. Folks start to take notice, however, when a series of tornadoes touch down in Los Angeles and destroy the Hollywood sign, Capitol Records, the Los Angeles Airport, and all of downtown. We see the damage through the eyes of a slick television reporter, and get a firsthand view of the wreckage when a clueless janitor opens the door to what used to be an office and sees nothing but open sky. Things aren’t looking good, folks! The mega-cyclone’s carnage to the City of Angels, however, is only the first catastrophic sequence we’ll get in the film.
Helicopters (and their pilots) crash and freeze instantly
Things get really cold, really fast in The Day After Tomorrow, and we learn this via some exposition about how a mammoth back in the Ice Age died suddenly with a bunch of food still in his stomach applies to the world's current situation. We then cut to a helicopter flying in a blizzard and crashing. All that is pretty standard blockbuster fare, but what sticks with you is that, when the pilot struggles to get out of the wreckage, he turns into a literal popsicle in seconds. We also soon find out that this Mega-Freeze phenomenon will hit most of North America, including New York City where Jack’s son Sam (Gyllenhaal) is stranded.
New York City gets hit by a super-sized tsunami
Speaking of NYC, we see Sam and his friends heading to the New York Public Library when a mega-wave crashes into the city and floods the streets. Sam and his friends barely escape drowning, but thousands of other New Yorkers sadly didn’t. After this scene, we get one soon after that really hammers home how f***** they all are — an unmoored container ship starts sailing down 5th Avenue and settles in right by the building.
That dumb wolf attack
If that wasn’t unbelievable enough for you, later on in the film after everything has frozen over, Sam travels to that container ship in search of antibiotics for his friend/love interest. That journey in itself is plausible enough, but the roving CGI wolves who have escaped from the zoo and want to eat Sam et al, even though there are plenty of dead bodies all around, are not. One could even say that the wolves are a little silly and arguably unnecessary, given that the Mega-Freeze is coming and they’re all at risk at getting flash-frozen if they don’t get inside someplace soon.
The Statue of Liberty, frozen and buried in ice
Last but certainly not least, we see Lady Liberty herself at the end of the film as Jack treks his way to the snowdrift formerly known as Manhattan to rescue his kid. This is arguably the image most remembered from The Day After Tomorrow, if only because it was an image used often by the film’s marketing team. Half the globe is now an icicle, but the Statue of Liberty is still there underneath it all, giving Jack, Sam, and the audience some hope for the future.
The Day After Tomorrow is now streaming on Peacock.