2012 or The Day After Tomorrow?” width=”560″/>
Now: 2012 (2009)Then: The Day After Tomorrow 2004)
What exactly does Roland Emmerich have against humanity that he seeks to destroy it in his movies — over and over again, in increasingly spectacular fashion? Or perhaps the better question is: What do we have against ourselves that we continue to flock to his epics of CGI extinction? Either way, the German Master of Disaster is back at it, wiping out mankind all over again in 2012, in which solar rays overheat the Earth’s core and cause it to wreak havoc on the surface. This is technically different from what happened in Emmerich’s 2004 opus The Day After Tomorrow, in which environmental pollution suddenly caused a new Ice Age to occur. But, as might be expected, not all that different…
The Scientists Who Saw It Coming
2012: U.S. scientist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Indian researcher Satnam (Jimi Mistry) discover that the Earth’s core temperature is rising, and begin to warn that the crust will soon become unstable. Of course, it happens much sooner than expected.
The Day After Tomorrow: After a massive ice shelf breaks off Antarctica, paleo-climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) and climate researcher Terry Rapson (Ian Holm) realize a new Ice Age is headed our way. Of course, it happens much sooner than expected.
Estranged Families, Reunited
2012: Divorced writer Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is a kind but somewhat neglectful father of two who races to save his kids, his ex-wife Kate (Amanda Peet), and her new boyfriend Gordon (Thomas McCarthy) when he realizes what’s happening.
The Day After Tomorrow: After America freezes over, neglectful career man Dr. Jack walks (walks!) from Washington, D.C. to New York City to save the son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) he had with his estranged wife (Sela Ward).
Little People, Crazy World
2012: Soon after watching California slide into the Pacific, Jackson and Kate have a quiet, cozy conversation about their failed marriage and about how her new beau is a good man.
The Day After Tomorrow: In between bouts of outrunning super-cooled ice-sheets and random feral wolves, Sam and his academic competition partner Laura (Emmy Rossum) make puppy eyes at each other. He contemplates asking her out on a date.
Well, That Was Quick!
2012: Amazingly, the complete annihilation of the planet abates after about a month, and the survivors step outside to get some fresh air and sunshine.
The Day After Tomorrow: The havoc wrought by the new Ice Age settles down after a few days, and the survivors step outside so helicopters can whisk them away to safety.
The Obligatory Parting Shot
2012: The movie ends on a shot of the Earth from Space, showing that amid the total devastation of the rest of the planet, the continent of Africa has risen and remains intact — and huge.
The Day After Tomorrow: After much of the U.S. has to emigrate to Mexico to flee the devastation, the film ends on a shot of the Earth from Space, showing that the Northern Hemisphere is covered in ice.