Tomorrow When The War Began
- Director:Stuart Beattie
- Cast:Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Andrew Ryan, Caitlin Stasey, Phoebe Tonkin
- Release Date:September 02, 2010
- Running time:103 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While the action fares slightly better than character development; this absorbing blockbuster deserves to be a hit.
Has Australia ever produced an action-packed blockbuster aimed at the teen market? It somehow seems fitting then that the movie which is hoping to reverse this trend is premised upon such beloved source material as John Marsden's epic series which kicked off with Tomorrow, When the War Began.
A familiar story to many, Tomorrow, When the War Began tracks a group of high school students from the small town of Wirawee who embark on a week-long camping trip and return home to learn that their country has been invaded by a foreign power and their families herded into makeshift concentration camps. After a couple of life threatening skirmishes with the occupiers, the teens retreat to their isolated campsite in the bush and make plans to fight a guerrilla war against the invaders.
Having accumulated screenwriting credits on such big-budget films as Australia and the first Pirates of the Caribbean, Tomorrow, When The War Began marks the directorial feature debut for Stuart Beattie, who, naturally, also adapted the book into a screenplay. Beattie nails the tone, deftly balancing the story and action. He creates and maintains a rousing pace throughout, never resorting to inconsequential action sequences in order to keep the audience's attention.
Beattie's handling of the action is perhaps slightly edgier than those familiar with the source material may expect. A couple of flashes of unexpected violence early on illustrate in no uncertain terms the terror of war, but these scenes bode well, infusing the film with a grittiness and foreboding sense of realism. Other scenes, such as when Ellie (Caitlin Stasey) tries to escape with the injured Lee (Chris Pang) in the catcher of a construction excavator truck, are genuinely thrilling.
This isn't to say the film is perfect. A number of the central characters seem to have been scripted to fill requisite archetypes rather than fleshed out as the more nuanced teens evident in Marsden's series. While Beattie may have felt pressed to develop so many characters within a restricted time frame, it undermines the credibility of the film that Fi (Phoebe Tonkin) is depicted as so naive and Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings) so preachy despite both actresses turning in fine performances. Similarly, Beattie's choice to simplify some of the relationships - a love triangle from the novel seems to be missing - may upset fans.
There are occasional moments when Tomorrow, When The War Began struggles to keep things devoid of melodrama but for the most part this absorbing movie remains grounded in the reality of its teen protagonists. While there is the occasional spot of over-acting, the majority of the cast turn in solid performances. Stasey proves capable as the headstrong Ellie, revealing a mix of vulnerability and toughness. Deniz Akdeniz is also a naturally likeable screen presence as the loud-mouthed Homer.
As expected, Tomorrow, When The War Began leaves the story wide open for a follow-up but this is one of those rare films which will leave audiences actually rooting for a sequel.