Film & TV

Tomorrow when the War Began

Rating: M

Running time: 103 minutes

Release date: 2 September 2010200px-Tomorrow,_When_the_War_Began_theatrical_poster

check cinema guide for locations and session times

Tomorrow when the War Began, is based on the popular novel by John Marsden, which is one in a series of seven titles and has sold over 2.5 million copies and translated into seven languages.  It follows the story of seven teenagers from the Australian country town of Wirrawee, who embark on a camping trip to a secluded and idyllic location.  Cut off from the rest of the world they don’t realize anything is amiss until they return back to their community to find all their friends and family are missing.  Starting to panic  Ellie (Caitlin  Stasey), her best friend Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood) with her ocker sporty boyfriend Kevin (Lincoln Lewis) undertake some reconaissance and discover that they have been invaded and the local showground has been turned into a prison camp.  Thrown together by circumstance they must come face to face with their weaknesses and discover their hidden strengths and unite against a common foe.  This group of mismatched teenagers, each encompasses a persona that we can identify and relate to. Take your pick including aloof outsider Lee (Chris Pang) whose parents own a Thai restaurant, the high school princess Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin), the religious moral compass Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings) and the rebellious Homer (Deniz Akdeniz).  Fighting for survival they go into hiding and come across their eighth member, apathetic pot smoking Chris (Andrew Ryan).  As they try and outwit the enemy each are transformed by the experience with Ellie emerging as the strong female lead.  It is rare to see such a character protrayal like this in a mainstream film and Stacey (Neighbours) does an excellent job pulling it off.  It is no surprise that she will be off to the states and try her luck there.  Robyn’s religious beliefs are also challenged as she is forced to question her morality.

This is Australia’s attempt at a big budget hollywood style production, though still small in dollar value by US standards.  It pulls it off remarkably well though it still has a touch of that made for TV feel, more so in the intial phases then the quality improves once the full on action scenes commence.  It is also good to see an Australian film attempt a different genre but in saying that it will be interesting to see how the Australian audiences reaction to this is at the box office.  The popularity of the novel particularly with the target demographic may ensure success and it is a great piece of storytelling with the screenplay by director Stuart Beattie.  He has written other blockbuster hits such as Collateral, Pirates of the Carribean series and 3:10 to Yuma but this is his directorial.  Filmed in various locations in NSW and Hunter Valley by ciematographer Ben Nott.

Superb characterisations and acting by all the cast, this is a fine piece of storytelling and does keep your attention for the whole film with only occasional lapses into remembering it is an Australian production.

3.5/5 stars

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