The Day After Tomorrow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The visuals lacked significant problems but didn’t quite prosper well enough to get up to “A”-level.
Sharpness presented the only minor issues. Most of the movie came across as nicely detailed and distinctive. However, some shots looked just a little soft, largely due to a bit of light edge enhancement. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, though, and the movie lacked any form of source defects.
With its preponderance of snow and ice, Day didn’t offer a very broad color scheme. Nonetheless, its hues came across smoothly. The film displayed its chilly bluish tint well, and the occasional brighter tones looked concise and vivid. Blacks were deep and firm, and low-light shots appeared appropriately dark but not too thick. Overall, this was a good transfer.
Based on experiences with prior Roland Emmerich movies, I expected stunning audio from The Day After Tomorrow, and I got it. The movie boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks, and each one fared wonderfully. The DTS mix worked just a little better, but viewers will feel happy with whichever one they choose.
With all the violent weather elements, Day featured a myriad of exciting auditory situations, and the DTS mix explored these enormously well. The first half of the flick offered the broadest range of information. Hailstorms, tornadoes, walls of water - the movie packed in a slew of dynamic and involving elements. It also handled the quieter sequences well, with audio that presented a natural sense of atmosphere. The mix used the spectrum to great effect, as it featured many bits and pieces from each of the five channels and meshed them together smoothly.
The track didn’t disappoint when it came to audio quality. Speech always sounded concise and crisp, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. With all the effects, music got stuck in the background, but the score came across as bright and lively. The effects were the stars of the show. They sounded accurate, dynamic and vibrant. Highs seemed clear and lows appeared enormously deep and powerful. The entire thing packed a real wallop.
Why did I go with a slightly higher grade for the DTS mix? I felt it exhibited noticeably superior bass response. For the Dolby track, low-end could sound somewhat loose and boomy. Those concerns never became serious, and if I’d not heard the DTS track, they might not have stood out at all. However, they became apparent by comparison and made the DTS version the better of the pair. It’s an active and immersive auditory wonder to behold.
The Day After Tomorrow includes a mix of supplements, though not as many as one might expect from this sort of “A”-list flick. We get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from co-writer/director Roland Emmerich and producer Mark Gordon, both of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. As exemplified in the discussion that accompanies The Patriot, Emmerich can be extremely inarticulate. His prior pairings with producer Dean Devlin exacerbated this tendency; Devlin didn’t say a whole lot, so Emmerich was left with tons of space to fill. He did so in a less than concise manner.
Happily, matters improve substantially here. Unlike Devlin, Gordon proves lively and chatty, so Emmerich doesn’t get the chance to babble. They focus on a lot of technical elements and only occasionally delve into other issues. We learn a lot about effects, sets, locations and logistics, though they provide a smattering of information about the cast, the script, and creative topics. For example, Emmerich tells us about the story’s origins and development as well as how 9/11 affected it.
Tons of happy talk shows up here, and the level of information generally seems slight. However, this becomes a very entertaining track thanks to the hyper presence of Gordon. As with his Speed commentary, Gordon offers an irreverent presence and he’s not afraid to make fun of his own movie. He gleefully points out plot flaws and other mistakes, and he even mocks himself for all the praise he gushes. Emmerich gets caught up in the energy, and this actually seems to focus him, as he proves more interesting than in the past. Will you learn much from this track? Probably not, but you’ll have a lot of fun along the way.
For the second commentary, we receive notes from co-writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff, director of photography Ueli Steiger, editor David Brenner, and production designer Barry Chusid. It sounded like the men sat in pairs and recorded separate running, screen-specific commentaries that later got cut together. It appears that this split the participants into Steiger/Chusid and Nachmanoff/Brenner teams. The piece flowed smoothly nonetheless, as the editing made it work.
One can infer the topics of conversation via a scan of the men’s titles, as the subjects follow expected dimensions. We learn about modifications made to the original script, deleted sequences, altered pieces, and reworking some parts via editing. We get notes about the cinematography and the look of the film along with visual effects and those challenges. Some of the more technical elements get a little dry at times, but usually the material remains interesting and useful. I especially like the discussions of rewrites and editing as they give us a solid feel for how much work goes on after the script is done. The whole package offers a good look at the nuts and bolts elements of making Day. It’s not quite as entertaining as the Gordon/Emmerich track, but it’s much more illuminating.
Next we discover two deleted scenes. We get “Scene 25: Gary’s Shady Deal/Taka Dies” (two minutes, 45 seconds) and “Scene 209-210B: First Version of Jack and Jason After the Big Freeze” (3:44). In case you’re wondering, “Gary” is a self-absorbed stockbroker who bribes a bus driver in the final cut, and “Taka” is the cell-phone user who gets bonked on the head in Tokyo during the hailstorm. Their subplot was unnecessary and merited excision. The second scene offers a little more character definition but slows down an already plodding part of the movie, so it was also a good cut.
Audio Anatomy touts itself as an “interactive sound demo”. This allows us to examine the “RAF Helicopters Scene” via seven different stems: dialogue, helicopter sound design, engines, ice and wind, sound effects, foley, and music. We also get the chance to hear them all packed together. The 109-second segment offers a cool way to inspect the various elements, though it’s too bad the track only uses 2.0 audio and not the full 5.1 capabilities.
Folks with DVD-ROM drives can access additional features. I checked these out weeks before the DVD’s release, however, and they weren’t active yet. As such, I can’t comment on them, though they promise a lot of exclusive materials.
Finally, we get Inside Look, an “exclusive insider’s look at upcoming projects from Fox”. This presents a trailer for the summer 2005 Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie flick Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
An inconsistent but mostly interesting disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow demonstrates the usual strengths and weaknesses seen in the films of Roland Emmerich. It includes some solid action pieces and production values but suffers from thin characters and a dull story. The DVD offers good picture along with stunning audio and a small but useful set of extras. A pretty positive DVD for a reasonably entertaining movie, Day at least merits a rental.