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The Day After Tomorrow (2004) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

  • As Paleoclimatologist Jack Hall is in Antartica, he discovers that a huge ice sheet has sheared off. But what he does not know is that this event will trigger a massive climate shift that will affect the world population. Meanwhile, his son Sam is with friends in New York City to attend an event. There, they discover that it has been raining non-stop for the past three days, and after a series of weather-related disasters begin to occur all over the world, everybody realizes the world is about to enter a new Ice Age and the world population begins trying to evacuate to the warmer climates of the south. Jack makes a daring attempt to rescue his son and his friends who are stuck in New York City and who have managed to survive not only a massive wave but also freezing cold temperatures that could possibly kill them.

  • Jack Hall, a scientist who studies the planet's weather patterns, thinks that because of global warming, a new Ice Age is imminent. He tries to air his suspicions at a conference which the Vice President also attends. Since Hall's rants means that certain industries, who are supporters of the administration, could be in trouble, he shoots Hall down, But another scientist thinks Hall might have something so they talk. The man who works at weather monitoring station sees that the planet's climate is drastically changing and calls Hall who is surprised and tries to inform the government, but the Vice President again doesn't believe him. But when things get worse, Hall advises the President to move everyone from the Southern part of the continent further South till the weather improves. While everyone in the North should do their best to survive the cold. Hall then learns that his son is in New York City so he tells his son to stay inside till Hall can get to him, but the weather gets worse. Can Hall make it?

  • Mocked for his altruistic concerns about global warming before the U.S. Vice President at a U.N. conference in New Delhi, the renowned palaeoclimatologist, Jack Hall, is convinced that a new ice age is closer than everyone thinks. Before long, ferocious tornadoes level Los Angeles; a towering tidal surge floods Manhattan; a massive super-storm batters the northern hemisphere--and in the middle of this endless maelstrom of destruction--Jack's son, Sam, gets trapped in a New York public library with a handful of friends. Now, as Hall sets out on a dangerous trek from Washington D.C. to locate his son, the global temperature plummets, burying everything under an impenetrable blanket of ice. Can the father and son reunite before it's too late? Will the world survive the devastating Ice Armageddon?

  • A look at what the world could look like if the greenhouse effect and global warming continued. At the center of the story is a paleoclimatologist (a scientist who studies the ways weather patterns changed in the past), Professor Jack Hall, who tries to save the world from the effects of global warming while also trying to get to his son, Sam, who was in New York City as part of a scholastic competition, when the city was overwhelmed by the chilling beginnings of the new Ice Age. In addition to all of the other challenges Dr. Hall faces, he's also going against the flow as humanity races south to warmer climates, and he's nearly the only one going north.

  • In a dangerous part of time, climatologist Jack Hall discovers that due to global warming, the polar ice caps are melting, which is lowering ocean temperatures. This triggers a massive climate shift with tornadoes annihilating Hollywood, a tsunami floods Manhattan, and worst of all, Earth is about to end up in a second ice age. Too late everyone realizes this, and as they try to evacuate to the warmer south, for half of the northern U.S., and Canada, it's already too cold to go outside. Now Jack must make a dangerous trip to rescue his teenage son, Sam, but the cold is a powerful adversary.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a paleoclimatologist who is on an expedition in Antarctica with two colleagues, Frank (Jay O. Sanders) and Jason (Dash Mihok), drilling for ice core samples on the Larsen Ice Shelf for the NOAA. The ice shelf suddenly breaks off from the rest of the continent, and Jack almost falls to his death. Jack presents his findings on global warming at a United Nations conference in New Delhi. Jack found that 10,000 years ago, a global warming changed the earth's climate into the Ice Age. Jack says that it could happen again in maybe 100 to 1,000 years from now if humans don't stop polluting the atmosphere. Most of the diplomats, including the Vice President of the United States (Kenneth Welsh), are unconvinced by Jack's theory. At the conference, Jack meets Professor Terry Rapson (Ian Holm) of the Hedland Climate Research Centre in Scotland, who is keeping track of the world's ocean currents. Terry tells Jack that the melting of the polar ice caps has poured fresh water into the oceans and diluted the salt level balance, which has caused the temperature of the ocean currents to drop 13 degrees.

    Two buoys in the North Atlantic simultaneously show a massive drop in the ocean temperature, and Rapson concludes that melting of the polar ice has begun disrupting the North Atlantic current. He calls Jack, whose paleoclimatological weather model holds reconstructional data of the climate change that caused the first Ice Age, to predict what will happen. Jack believed that the events would not happen for a hundred or a thousand years, but he, Frank, Jason, and NASA's meteorologist Janet Tokada (Tamlyn Tomita) build a forecast model with his, Rapson's, and Tokada's data.

    All over Earth, the climate system changes for the worst. Tokyo is hit by softball size hail; it begins to snow in New Delhi; and Los Angeles is destroyed by a group of huge F5 tornadoes that hit all at the same time. The U.S. President (Perry King), authorizes the FAA to suspend air traffic over the United States due to severe turbulence. As three RAF helicopters fly to evacuate the British Royal Family from Balmoral Castle in Scotland, they enter the eye of a very massive hurricane-like superstorm, that causes a temperature drop of -150 °F that freezes their fuel lines and rotors, causing them to crash and quickly freeze to death.

    Meanwhile, Jack's son, Sam, (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in New York City for an academic competition with his friends Brian and Laura (Arjay Smith and Emmy Rossum), where they also befriend a student named J.D. During the competition, the weather becomes massively violent with intense winds and flooding rains. Sam calls his father, making a promise to be on the next train home. Unfortunately, the storm worsens, forcing subways and Grand Central Station to close when they flood.

    Jack sees the President and gives him the bad news that his estimate of years is now down to days before the planet enters a new Ice Age. Jack advises the President to evacuate everybody in the southern states to Mexico, because it is too late to evacuate the people in the northern states. The Vice President says he's not amused by Jack's supposed sarcasm and Jack leaves for New York to find his son.

    As the storm worsens in Manhattan, a storm surge almost 40 feet (about half the height of the Statue of Liberty) impacts the island, causing major flooding. Sam and his friends are able to seek refuge in the New York Public Library. As they make their way to the front doors, Laura cuts her leg on a piece of jagged metal attached to a cab. She ignores the injury and helps a woman and her children get out of a flooding taxi.

    Survivors in the Northern United States are forced to flee south, with some Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico. Jack sets off for Manhattan to find his son, accompanied by Frank and Jason. Their truck crashes into a snow-covered tractor-trailer just past Philadelphia, so the group continues on snowshoes. During the journey, Frank falls through the glass roof of a snowbound shopping mall. As Jason and Jack try to pull Frank up, the glass under them continues to crack; Frank sacrifices himself by cutting the rope and he falls to his death.

    The U.S. President's helicopter is caught in the superstorm, killing everyone on board, leaving the U.S. Vice President in charge. With much of the population of the southern half of the United States at the border with Mexico, the VP agrees to forgive a large amount of debt owed by the Mexican government to allow people to cross the border to safety.

    Inside the library, Sam advises everyone of his father's instruction to stay indoors. Few listen, and the small group that remains burns books to keep warm and breaks into the library's vending machine for food. Laura is afflicted with blood poisoning when the cut she received turns septic, so Sam, Brian, and J.D. must search for penicillin in a Russian cargo ship that drifted inland, and are attacked by escaped wolves from the New York Zoo. Just then, the eye of the North American superstorm begins to pass over the city with its -150 °F instant freeze temperatures, and the entire New York City skyline begins to freeze solid, buildings and air alike. The three return to the library with medicine, food, and supplies, making it to safety.

    During the deep freeze, Jack and Jason take shelter in an abandoned Wendy's restaurant. Jason had succumbed to the extreme cold and wind and collapsed. In desperation, Jack dropped him into the restaurant's kitchen through a vent and holed up until the storm's eyed passed. They resume their journey, finally arriving in New York City. They find the library buried in snow, but find Sam's group alive and are rescued by U.S. Army soldiers flying UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

    In Mexico, the new President orders search and rescue teams to look for other survivors, having been given hope by the survival of Sam's group. Several more groups are found on top of Manhattan skyscrapers and are also rescued. The movie concludes with two astronauts looking down at Earth from the International Space Station, showing most of the northern hemisphere covered in ice, including all of the United States north of the southern states, and a major reduction in pollution.

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