While I realize that Dr. Pillar made the passing remark that The Day After Tomorrow is an Absolute Zero with a larger budget, I had already half written this comparison blog of the two movies. Plus, I think I have enough examples to make this post not entirely a repeat.
So, as the only person in the entire class to be seeing The Day After Tomorrow for the first time, I was highly disappointed with it. The plot was tired, and half of the film seemed to be dedicated to special effects. I kind of was expecting this from a natural disaster film, but I also should have been clued in when the first five minutes is of glaciers, glaciers, and more glaciers.
The glaciers are where the comparisons start. In both movies, the opening shows tents and men in winter gear doing some research. Then suddenly a chasm appears, almost killing off the protagonist of the film. Absolute Zero actually killed a guy off, where as Dennis Quaid and the others just looks really concerned. Quaid, while a better actor than whoever that other guy was with the ever-present squinty eyes from Absolute Zero, is still playing a highly overplayed stereotype. Both protagonists are brave, willing to risk their lives, and have to speak their beliefs of the world’s demise to men in suits who only care about money.
Getting into less broad similarities, both movies show people being frozen instantly. The main cast of characters in both movies hides in a moderately safe environment. Except in Absolute Zero there is an observation window, and The Day After Tomorrow has windows and an opened chimney hole that definitely wouldn’t let air in or anything.
The aftermath is handled the same way in both movies. Firstly, the day after (no pun intended) most of the chaos happens, everything is relatively fine. People can now walk outside without being frozen instantly, and magical helicopters arrive to rescue survivors. Secondly, the writers shove an incredibly “genius” social commentary, political agenda resolution into the faces of the viewers. Who survives in Absolute Zero and The Day After Tomorrow? The developing countries, of course, are the ones not affected by the environmental mayhem. The world’s socioeconomic order is going to change, and everyone’s going to be riding snow mobiles for a while. The Day After Tomorrow even shows Americans fleeing to Mexico in an ironic turn of events.
Aside from everything I’ve already listed, one of the biggest similarities of the two that make it different from a film like Sunshine, is character development. This is strictly my opinion, but I think the characters of Absolute Zero and The Day After Tomorrow are flat, not undergoing much dynamic change from beginning to end. Sunshine delves into the psychological issues of the characters, and does not portray them as one dimensional heroes and villains. While Sunshine does have some factual errors, they’re less glaring because of the other strengths of the film. Maybe the makers of The Day After Tomorrow should have spent more time on the script and less time creating CGI wolves.