Tomorrow, When the War Began
Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Kevin Holmes, Deniz Akdeniz
Directed by Stuart Beattie
Based on the novel by John Marsden
It was with some trepidation that I entered an opening-night screening of Tomorrow, When the War Began. The film, adapted from a much-loved novel by Australian author John Marsden, has been widely touted as an action-packed Australian blockbuster.
For myself, however, it was not the promise of exploding fireballs and rapid machine gun fire that drew me to the cinema doors (although the film provided plenty of both). Rather, it was the story: the fictional series I have read at least twenty times since I first discovered Marsden's books at the age of ten. Having invested many hours of my childhood immersed in the pages of Tomorrow, When the War Began, would it be possible for any film director to meet the expectations of my imagination?
Tomorrow, When the War Began tells the story of Ellie and her six best friends who set out on a camping trip to the almost impenetrable bushland of Hell, near their hometown of Wirrawee. Their rustic escape appears to be an opportunity many teenagers can only dream of: independence, freedom and a chance to take a final break before commencing their last year of school.
Upon their return to civilisation, however, they are met with the unthinkable. Finding their homes deserted, electricity switched off and phone lines cut, the group begins to fear the worst. It is not long before they realise a foreign army has invaded their town and their country is at war.
Ellie and her friends are left with only two choices: surrender or fight back.
Although the film introduces many new actors, drama enthusiasts will recognise a few familiar faces. Most notable is Caitlin Stasey, who rose to fame on Neighbours, plays Ellie, the film's lead. And to Marsden fans feeling apprehensive about the casting choice of former Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis as Kevin, I can safely say fear no more! Lewis embodies the character superbly from the first moment he speaks. Equally impressive are Phoebe Tonkin as Fiona and Lee Takkam who embraces the slightly altered and highly comedic role of Chris. Audience members of the fairer sex may also find themselves infatuated with Deniz Akdeniz, who stars as the group's bad boy, Homer.
Director Stuart Beattie, more commonly known for his screenwriting works (Australia, Collateral and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) has transformed Marsden's story from page to screen with great success.
Although the film's beginning is somewhat rushed, it remains true to the original story even while it is transported into the techno-savvy world of the 21st Century.
Tomorrow, When the War Began boasts special effects and thrilling suspense of Hollywood quality yet never strays from the story's fundamental issues: love, guilt and revenge. Its inherent Australianness is extremely satisfying and allows local audiences to lose themselves in identifiable landscapes, personalities and music. The film will represent Australia to overseas viewers without the stereotypical and cringeworthy clichés that have been known to rear their ugly heads in the past.
A highly recommended night out!
four and a half stars