Saturday, June 5, 2004
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Clayton News Daily
Big budget disaster movies of recent years are a growing epidemic far worse than any calamity they display on the silver screen. The new stinker, "The Day After Tomorrow" is at they eye of this killer Hollywood storm. And how apt it is that a mega-tornado wipes away the famous Hollywood sign (and half of Los Angeles) in that very film. The problem with this and other Hollywood-made disasters such as "Deep Impact" or "Independence Day" is that they try to overdo the action, taking you across the globe for an unnecessary play by play of worldwide terror.
What is more fascinating to see in such a film is the localization of a global threat. Take "Signs" for instance. Aliens are invading all over the earth but the audience sees things from the perspective of a small farm family on a farm. By focusing on just a few solid characters, the audience can identify with their predicament which would be closer to their own experience should such an event occur. The "Signs" approach stands in contrast to the "now we're in New York, now we're in L.A., now we're in Afghanistan" omnipresent style of ID4 and the like. By dividing the audience's attention
Also, last year's, "28 Days Later" scared viewers with a less is more approach. By giving the audience a minimal two minute prologue it unaplogetically throws them into the jaws of hell with little explanations of how they arrived there. Waking up in a desolate world littered with dead bodies and live zombies, the central character never learns how bad the "rage" infection has spread and if civilization remains on the other side of the world. What you don't know in this film makes for a more exciting journey.
If a real global epidemic occurred this would certainly affect all of humanity but each one of us would be affected in our own way depending on where in this world you lived. The beauty of films such as "28 Days later" or even Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" is that they focus on more personal accounts of earth shattering phenomenon by providing more aspects of humanity than these bloated budget disaster flicks do for all the characters they pack.
"The Day After Tomorrow"'s cold weather must have effectively frozen the drama and emotion of this stale feature. Hopefully that freezing effect will put a halt on audiences seeing this and other ill-conceived disaster films.
Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 248 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.