Review: Tomorrow When the War Began

14 04 2011

Riding my bike home from football a fly went right down the back of my throat. I can still feel it sitting in my oesophagus – most uncool. Not only do I have to contend with that, Mrs D. is watching The Only Way is Essex again… I read that since the show first aired, mortality rates have risen dramatically: people are overwhelmed by what a cultural toss-hole Essex is and literally give up on life. It’s true you know!

As promised, I will be employing all 128 words in my vocabulary to review a film today: Tomorrow When the War Began. It’s an Aussie film so you know there’ll be someone from Neighbours in it. Of course I’m generalising, there are many fine actors in Austr… oh wait, I was right the first time. The movie’s lead, Caitlin Stasey, is also a character in Neighbours… but can she act?

Well, no. Mrs D. has read the trilogy on which the movie is based and for years she has been telling me “You need to read this, D-Kwon (for that is my real name), it’s an amazing story”. If the movie is anything to go by, I’m kind of glad I haven’t. The premise is that Stasey’s character, Ellie Linton, is a teenage girl living in a sleepy Australian farm town. On the weekend of Australia day she decides to ask a group of friends and acquaintances from her school to go into the local woodland and camp out. But would you believe it, whilst away they see planes flying overhead and return to find an army of unidentified Asians have invaded Australia. If I had a pound…

They evade capture and decide to launch a resistance movement with mixed results. Whilst they make this transition into guerilla warriors, they learn something along the way. My gag reflex just kicked in – I wonder if it’s the fly 0r movie?

I’m being glib but I didn’t really mind they concept, in fact, I think with a bit more ability, it could have been an excellent movie. Unfortunately a movie needs to be more than a good concept; it needs able direction, believable dialogue and talented actors. TWTWB failed on all 3 fronts: this was the directorial debut for Stuart Beattie, who is better known as a screenwriter for such tin-pot nonsense as GI JOE, Australia and two of the Pirates of the Carribbean films (neither are the good one). In terms of direction, he handles an established Australian modern classic with ineptitude as the plot devices are all over the place: one minute characters are cornered by guards, another they’re making a break for it in a truck, with little or no explaination about how they escaped their predicament. I was saddened to read that Beattie’s next directorial project is Halo, in all likelihood continuing the trend of turning awesome computer games into terrible movies.

The dialogue and acting is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. I still can’t make up my mind whether the acting was so terrible that the script seemed two dimensional making it impossible for me to suspend my disbelief, or was the script that bad that those poor bastards didn’t have a hope of coming out of it well? I think the truth lies somewhere in between. One of the actresses, that I thought was especially wooden, Rachel Hurd-Wood (unfortunate), was also in Perfume which is a good film based on a stunning book. I remembered enjoying the movie so maybe this script is to blame? A rare shining acting light in the movie was Deniz Akdeniz, who offered comic relief in the movie and seemed to play the role of the loveable rogue with aplomb. One to watch out for.

All in all, I do believe Mrs D. that the book is very good. A friend of ours came to stay once and borrowed it to read during her visit – she enjoyed it so much that sat up through the night reading. If this is the case, it would be very good to see a non-Australian take over the directing duties so they are not jaded by all the schmaltzy nationalism that riddles the film and maybe make a good go of it – I doubt that will happen and you can guarantee I’ll get dragged along to the second in the trilogy!

There are plenty of other good movies out but if you really are a fan of the books or happen to be a 13 year old girl, knock yourself out.

2/5

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