It's an over-the-top disaster film where global warming wreaks havoc at warp speed as a White House and Vice President Cheney look-alike ignore scientists' warnings of doom that global warming is real and its affecting us now.
Not surprisingly, environmental activists have seized the film as a tool to bash the Bush administration, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen:
"This administration has been trying to stifle the national debate on global warming," said Robert Kennedy Jr. with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "I think this movie gives us an opportunity to start talking about global warming."
President Bush outraged environmentalists when he abandoned the Kyoto treaty meant to cut harmful emissions worldwide, calling for more research and voluntary cutbacks instead.
"I will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt American workers," the President said.
Now, just as the film debuts, the administration is trying to beat back a senate bill aimed at fighting global warming.
Pure fiction, say the president's allies.
"With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK.
But the issue and film are apparently so sensitive, that for a time NASA ordered its scientists not to comment. After that order was leaked, NASA reversed course. Turns out, its scientists had lots to say.
"Those who think that the human race has not had a powerful impact on the environment and the climate definitely have their head in the sand," said William Patzert, NASA.
The administration wouldn't talk on camera, but in a statement said, "We'll leave the movie making to Hollywood. While they're working on movies we are advancing our scientific knowledge."
Director Roland Emmerich says the audience is getting two films for the price of one. "I'm very proud that I made a popcorn movie which becomes a political movie."
This may be another one of those times when controversy helps sell tickets. And that's never a disaster in Hollywood.
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.