Tomorrow When The War Began
- Director:Stuart Beattie
- Cast:Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Andrew Ryan, Caitlin Stasey, Phoebe Tonkin
- Release Date:December 30, 2010
- The Film:3.0
- The Disc:4.0
"Paramount's handling of the DVD cannot be faulted."
With a story that resembles John Milius' ‘80s relic Red Dawn minus that director's penchant for anti-Red hysteria, Tomorrow When The War Began is an effective - but vanilla - attempt to transplant the ‘high concept' action film into the Australian landscape.
In screenwriter Stuart Beattie's (writer of Collateral, Australia) directorial debut, a group of NSW teenagers form a guerrilla militia to fight off an invading (and unidentified) armed force.
This adaptation of the John Marsden story - the first in a series of teen novels - incorporates elements of professional slickness and jarring amateurism. For every moment of a cleverly staged action set-piece or an unexpected character exchange, there are many more clichés in the film's characterisations. Beattie - as a writer - relies too heavily on stereotype (rich girl, bad boy, stoner, zealot) rather than the richer level of character detail expected from a filmmaker of his calibre. (Although - to Beattie's credit - he also makes very effective use of Sarah Blasko's cover version of "Flame Trees", also incorporated into 2005's Little Fish).
Beattie makes a bold choice in casting such young actors in the lead roles. Yet, perhaps it is the broadness of the characters' initial conception or the steep challenge of a first-time director handling a number of inexperienced actors, but the performances are not entirely successful, often tripping over the more awkward exchanges in the screenplay. Only the lead, Caitlin Stasey (Neighbours), is completely effective in her performance, handling both small and larger sequences with surprising comfort.
Paramount's handling of the DVD cannot be faulted, though, with an extensive exploration of the film's inception and production. The genial Beattie contributes an intelligent commentary, discussing his attempts to depict Marsden's story in a visual medium. The producers' commentary is drier, with an emphasis on the film's production schedule. Marsden - obviously pleased with the finished product - features in a couple of extras, with his an exhaustive interview with the ABC's Fenella Kernabone a highlight.