The Day After Tomorrow (2004) vs 2012 (2009) – Face Off

The undisputed king of disaster movies, Roland Emmerich, is back with his latest disaster epic, Moonfall, which recently debuted to an underwhelming $10 million opening weekend. With a 68% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Moonfall clearly needs to come back down to Earth to find its audience, but when’s a better time than now to look back on a couple of movies from Emmerich’s resume? The director has been in the destroying-Earth game for a long time, covering everything from aliens in Independence Day to Kaiju like Godzilla

Today, we’re setting our sights on 2 films of his that ravaged the planet and cleaned up at the box office. 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow was Emmerich’s treatise on sudden and violent climate change, and while the science is decidedly pseudo, the reality of how quickly our climate can change has become eerily prescient. Grounding the story is Dennis Quaid’s Jack Hall trying to reunite with his son, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, by crossing the now-frozen tundra of the Northeastern United States. 2009’s 2012 saw Emmerich expand his canvas of destruction; anticipating public fear – however misguided – of 2012 supposedly predicting the end of the world. Emmerich gave us his vision of the end of the Mayan calendar and all the devastation that was erroneously attributed to it.

Nestled in the story of a divorcee, played by John Cusack, trying to save his family, while the rich try to save themselves, Emmerich went off the deep end scientifically – if The Day After Tomorrow hadn’t already – and he didn’t stop until the whole planet’s crust had radically shifted, killing billions in the process. At least in The Day After Tomorrow, the southern hemisphere escaped relatively unscathed! So let’s find out which of these films will live to see another day and which will be left to the elements? Only one way to find out: FACE OFF!

This episode of Face Off is written by Daniel Woburn, narrated by Shawn Knippelberg and edited by Ric Solomon. Watch previous episodes below and let us know in the comments what you prefer – 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.