Review: Tomorrow When the War Began

I know I’ll lose a lot of respect from friends and relatives in admitting this but I never read any of John Marsden’s critically acclaimed and fanatically loved young adult book series growing up. Crazy and unbelievable I know, but I guess I was just the sort of kid who was more concerned with where his next hit of creamy 16 bit video game goodness was coming from. So yes, I went in to this film fairly ignorant about the story and completely clueless as to the tone of the series.

I was wonderfully surprised.

As you all surely know, Tomorrow tells the first part of a grand tale of a group of teenage friends from the small country town of Wirrawee as they return from a weekend away in an area of the bush the locals have dubbed ‘Hell’ to find that a mysterious military power has seized their home town along with much of the rest of Australia. Alone and not knowing exactly what has happened, the group led by 17 year old farm girl Ellie, decide to take up arms and strike at the enemy guerrilla style in an effort to drive the invaders from their town and rescue their parents from the internment camps that have been established at the local showgrounds.

Aussie screenplay veteran Stuart Beattie has done a marvellous job with the adaptation and the film also marks his directorial debut. The flick is stunningly shot, the dialogue is (mostly) sharp, performances from the cast of young actors are all great and for a modestly budgeted local production the visual effects work is truly spectacular. I really hope the film finds an audience beyond Australia as it really does hold up brilliantly against any of Hollywood’s recent blockbuster outings and I would love to see Beattie given bigger budgets to tackle the rest of the books.

Tomorrow is a seriously entertaining yarn. It’s not perfect but its pretty close, and for my money it’s one of the best films I’ve caught in a cinema this year.

Highly recommend!