TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN
Director: Stuart Beattie
Screenwriter: Stuart Beattie based on the eponymous novel by John Marsden
Runtime: 103 mins.
Australian release date: 2 September 2010
Tomorrow, When The War Began is the first in a series of seven young adult invasion novels written by John Marsden which were published between 1993 and 1999. Adapted for the screen by the director Stuart Beattie, this is the beginning of a dramatic ride which could rival the Twilight series and launch a few international acting careers.
The story is set in a fictional town called Wirrawee, which is located a stone’s throw from the dizzying heights of the Blue Mountains. A group of teenagers decide to go for a bonding weekend, which involves a hike through the mountains to camp at a place by a river called Hell. And, it never looked prettier…
During the night, they observe a number of air force jets flying without lights on and wake the next day to no mobile signals and an eerie feeling that something has happened. Upon their return to their respective homes, they are faced with empty houses, parents missing and a dead dog. Things are not looking good. They subsequently learn that their home town has been invaded by a foreign power and the Wirrawee townsfolk are being herded into the local sports stadium by gun-toting military personnel.
The story then goes into overdrive as the young group are faced with the psychological damage created by war. It is more about them than the invaders, who are from non-specified neighbouring countries. The threat to Australia has become a reality, ending years of scaremongering. In order to survive, the group stage a guerrilla war against their enemies and take on the challenge of blowing up the Cobblers’ Bay Bridge. This is spectacularly done with the help of a garbage truck and the special effects are on a par with any others you may have seen on screen. By the time the film finishes, it makes you want to see the sequels.
In a year of strong Australian films, this is up there with the best. The performances are all solid especially Ellie (Caitlin Stasey), who narrates the story and is the driving force of the group. Her best friend Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood) plays the prefect gal-pal and the classic ‘ditzy’ blonde character, Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin) is perfectly pitched and she bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Brittany Murphy. There is a fine balance between the rest of the cast, particularly the sensitivity of the male characters, Lee (Chris Pang), Homer (Deniz Akdeniz) and Kevin (Lincoln Lewis), but they are overshadowed by the female roles. Go girls!
If you like the impact and action sequences of Australian films like Mad Max, then it is safe to say the drought is over. The first half hour had me cringing, as having not read the novel, I wondered when it was going to get going and I felt the film was strongly pitched to a youth market. However, once the action starts to kick in, Tomorrow, When The War Began is a ride for all ages and you don’t have to be a twenty-something to enjoy the film. I strongly recommend you go for the journey.