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Reviews & Ratings for
Tomorrow, When the War Began More at IMDbPro »

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103 out of 162 people found the following review useful:

Worst movie I have ever seen

Author: graham-938-455077 from Australia
31 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I haven't read any of the books so I watched this film on its own merits and I'm generally supportive of Aussie films, but this film was terrible.

Let's start with the characters. Stereotypes galore from the prissy, ditsy uptown blonde through to the Chinese boy who's family owns a Chinese restaurant and he demonstrates Kung Fu skills. The actors seem very camera-aware, talking at the camera instead of each other and it doesn't help that the story is full of woeful clichés and unrealistic dialog. There was no development of the characters, i felt no attachment to any of them and towards the end i was wishing the "enemy" would kill at least half of them. The worst part for me is that the story suggests that they are mostly 17 years old, but only 1 character (the priests daughter *groan*) actually looks right for the part. I would have turned it off halfway if it wasn't for the stoner character. At this point I started watching it like it was a spoof movie.

The story unfortunately is full of holes and unrealistic events that make it so hard to watch. The enemy was made out to be so stupid and wildly inaccurate with their weapons. Please use a military adviser next time you want to make a film containing armed forces. Are we really supposed to believe that they wouldn't have engineers that could rebuild a bridge? On top of all the technical and military logic errors in the story, it almost seems to completely ignore the fact that Australia has a defense force.

Afraid of political correctness, the Asian coalition army invading has no name and it is painfully skirted around making the movie more unrealistic. Trying to keep gender equality alive with woman enemy soldiers (did we forget it was an Asian army?) another painful reminder of the poorly written script. The lead female gaining inspiration for a wall mural depicting aborigines and English redcoat troops was a vomit moment. You guys realise that the English settled here right, effectively conquering?? Just needed a scene with a woman vet holding an injured joey to finish it off.

The only good thing about this film is the view of the national park.

There is more, but I'm over it. Do yourself a favour and save your money.

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85 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

Where do I get paid to say this movie was good....

Author: promo2 from Australia
24 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Someone is obviously paying people to give positive reviews, I had heard that this was a film I should see... Wrong!

Clumsy, predictable, laughable. They should have had a grown-up check the script before starting production.

Dump trucks are not bullet proof! Soldiers don't run away when a teenager blows up a lawnmower. Soldiers don't go for dinner when someone steals their tanker. Soldiers don't sneak up on enemy 'commandoes' with their gun-lights on.

It kept looking like it could improve and some parts looked very stylish, but then ffffttt! Deflation.

Paper-thin character development, dry lines, ridiculous action sequences and the final scene... OMG lol wtf...I was embarrassed to have told my wife she should watch this with me, she doesn't mind suspending disbelief when watching something like this but she laughed out loud at the final 5 seconds and I cringed!

Sorry to the writer and director, good on you for having the guts to make a movie, no doubt better than I could do, but sheesh, maybe share the workload next time.

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144 out of 251 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic adaption.......congratulations!

Author: annakedwards from Australia
8 August 2010

I've just finished watching the world premiere of "Tomorrow When the War Began" in Sydney with my son. We've both read the complete "Tomorrow" book series, which we loved - so we went expecting the movie to not live up to the book because movies generally don't, do they? Well, we were really pleasantly surprised as this movie is a wonderful adaption.

A great cast of "unknowns" become the characters we know and love. They did a fabulous job of capturing the essence of the book with the right balance of action, character development and teenage romance. It really is a fantastic effort and I would be very surprised if this film doesn't smash it at the box office.

We both wanted to sit there and watch it all over again!

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103 out of 175 people found the following review useful:

One big face-palm

Author: from New Zealand
5 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went into this movie not knowing anything about it, I didn't even know it was Australian. I had my head in my hands for half the time it was so cringe until it was so bad I had to laugh out loud. The acting is over the top and ridiculous and the storyline unbelievable to the point of asking oneself if this is actually a joke. As I hadn't read the books at least I didn't have a childhood fantasy crushed like some people I know. I passed the time by wondering what the best way to invade Australia would be to hunt down the people responsible for the complete waste of time and money. The worst movie I have EVER seen in a cinema.

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65 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Did everyone else watch a different movie?

Author: aslan-937-283764 from Canada
30 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I felt it was necessary to sign up for an IMDb account to offset the skewed reviews this film is getting... it's current 6.9 rating is baffling to say the least.

I started watching this film with an open mind. The premise wasn't original (see Red Dawn) but I like Australian films and since it got such high reviews here, it would be worth a watch. I was sadly mistaken.

It's starts off well, establishing the main characters, but quickly falls off the rails once the kids return from their camping trip. I know I'm not the target audience for this type of film, but once you get past the teens and their budding crushes/relationships, this film makes little sense. I won't get into too much detail, but even a non-military person like myself knows that the way the "invaders" take over and police the town is completely implausible and impractical. And don't get me started on using gasoline as a high explosive, which is used as a plot device not once, but twice.

When the main characters start musing on the current situation and how their lives were before the "war" (an hour or two after returning to town no less), it comes across as wooden and silly. Maybe if I was a 14 year old girl I'd be more forgiving, but I'm not.

To top it all off, the movies doesn't have an ending. There's no satisfying conclusion to the story and it's blatantly clear they want to start a franchise with many sequels, which hopefully will never be made.

An awful, awful film… Red Dawn did it much better.

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95 out of 166 people found the following review useful:

Tomorrow When the War Began, may bring unintended consequences

Author: mountain fog from Australia
24 August 2010

This film, Tomorrow When the War Began, is the first in an intended series of three films, to be followed by a television series, depending on box office receipts.

It was a substantial investment for an Australian feature film, at $20 million, and its production values are generally excellent. DOP Ben Nott has done a superb job of capturing some of the beauty of Australia's bush and mountains, alternating with that serenity, the fast paced action sequences, with gun fights, car chases, explosions and general mayhem.

Although there are a number of small technical criticisms I noted, this film still rises way above the average fair, and its 143 minutes duration literally flies past, leaving you a little disappointed for want of more.

I have not read the seven book novel series, written by John Marsden, which the film is based on, so I was seeing the film and judging it on its merits, and I know the youth, in particular, who are familiar with the books, will love the film, as will many older folk who do not know Marsden's work.

The actors generally put in strong performances; however, there are a few awful character clichés which more than jar, which does disrupt one's involvement momentarily. I have written a more in depth analysis, which does not contain plot or ending spoilers, but does partly describe some scenes for critical purposes, on my film review site. On other criticisms, some logic and laws of physics have been bent, for dramatic purposes which, in my opinion, detract from the effect.

Realism, if respected on every level, always impresses more. The Hollywood multi-angle multi shot of the same effect is cartoonish and helps to degrade a drama, rather than enhance it. This film does commit some sins, but it is head and shoulders above the usual Hollywood fair, in the action genre.

In closing, I recommend you see this film, for it reveals a, potentially, extremely contentious issue, regarding the invaders, which may have historical socio-political repercussions, more than any other Australian film before it, particularly throughout Asia.

This film will be remembered by many for a number of reasons.

It is definitely worth the price of the ticket!

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37 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

The children of the revolution have arrived too little too late

Author: Likes_Ninjas90 from Australia
10 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the Australian country town of Wirrawee Ellie (Caitlin Stasey) is preparing to organise a camping trip with six of her school friends. They include Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her boyfriend Kevin (Lincoln Lewis), Fiona; a beautiful girl who has never been camping before, Homer (Deniz Akdeniz); a Greek boy who is regularly in trouble with the police, Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings); who comes from a strict religious family and Lee (Chris Pang); who normally works in his parents restaurant but is invited because Ellie likes him. These varied personalities have different reactions to the bushland but they eventually agree that they should regularly return to this part of the outback labelled as "Hell". When they arrive back home though they are dismayed to find that the phone lines are dead and that Ellie's dog has been killed. They are unable to find any other working signals on their phones or in the other houses. Everyone in the town, including their parents, seems to have vanished. They soon realise that an Asian military force has invaded Australia and is holding people captive. The kids decide to fight for their freedom and work to sabotage their invaders.

One of the most significant moments in Stuart Beattie's career as a screenwriter was to pen the screenplay for Michael Mann's dazzling thriller Collateral (2004). The Australian's script reminded Hollywood of many of the essentials that had been lost in mainstream genre cinema: the necessity for deep characterisation, regularly driven by smart, witty conversations that were enjoyable to listen to. Beattie has been involved in various blockbusters since then. He worked on the stories for all three of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He also penned the script to the film Australia and has been involved with the much anticipated Halo film project. With a desire to be at the helm of his own writing though, Beattie has opted to make his directional debut by adapting the first novel in John Marsden's immensely popular young adult series "Tomorrow, When the War Began" (1993). The film's timing could not be better. It is set in the present and hints at Australia's sometimes dangerous nationalist attitudes to other countries. Kevin says at one point: "you're either in or you're out", echoing an infamous catchphrase by George W. Bush. The film also reveals its invaders to be an Asian military force, something that is never unveiled in the novels. Frustratingly for Beattie and fans of the novel though, this adaptation seems to have been pulled in two different directions for two separate mediums. Potentially interesting material and moral ambiguities are either simplified or minimised to single lines of dialogue.

Marsden's stranglehold over the screenplay cannot be understated. He reportedly rejected numerous scripts and film offers prior to Beattie but was pleased with this treatment when he read through it. It makes few changes to the essentials of the novel. The personalities of the characters are just like the novel, constructed rather than subtle. Marsden seems to have forgotten that time has moved on and those that cherished the novel in the 90s have grown up and presumably become more sophisticated. There's a lack of nerve here to let the audience think for themselves and allow them to delve into more complex issues. When Ellie kills her first soldier she looks over the body and her voice-over tells us how scared the soldier looked and how she must have been just like her. It's not enough for the camera shot and the perspective to exist by itself, replacing the language of Marsden's novel. It's a reoccurring issue with a lot of the dialogue in the film. The characters exist for Beattie to voice moral questions, just in case the audience didn't get them. Robyn has an argument with the group about not wanting to kill the soldiers because of her religious values. What happens to her is predictable and exists on a surface level, with little reflection. You'd almost wish William Munny would show up and say: "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man". He doesn't and the film's constraints towards it themes and the potential of its subtext are obvious.

Some critics have spoken about the problematic decision to employ a novice director to work with such inexperienced actors. It's a legitimate concern as most of the performers, bar Stasey, lack presence on screen. They have mostly worked just on television and they're only given a small corridor to work in because of the specific outline of what their characters are supposed to be and sound like. There's a lot of clunky, wooden dialogue that really only serves as a mouthpiece for the familiar questions relating to warfare. Thankfully, the technical aspects of the film are much more impressive. For a debut director, Beattie handles the action very well, with some genuinely exciting set pieces. There's a very well staged escape from a showground and a slick chase against a group of armoured buggies. Each these action scenes look and sound terrific. They're very exciting and intense.

Tomorrow, When the War Began might satisfy young viewers with its slick action sequences and its stereotypical character traits. Yet those who grew up with the novels will be disappointed that the material here has not expanded or been updated thoroughly enough. This is a straight adaptation that cannot break from the shackles of the original author. Beattie has not been allowed to delve deep enough into new ideas about warfare or the psychology of the cartoon-like characters here. The probability of a sequel is high but it would seem that the children of the revolution have arrived too little too late.

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60 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant adaptation and not your average blockbuster movie

Author: esinger5 from Australia
9 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of "Tomorrow When the War Began" yesterday evening and I have to say I was blown away. There were a few flaws, but overall it was an absolutely brilliant experience.

The film tells the story of seven teenagers who go away on a camping trip and return to discover that a foreign army has invaded their home and imprisoned their families, and how they cope with this – and also how they fight back to save everything they care about.

Soon after the film begins, we are drawn into the world of Wirrawee (actually Raymond Terrace in country NSW), the small country town where these teenagers have lived their whole lives in. Ellie (Caitlin Stasey), our heroine, is called out to her best friend Corrie's (Rachel Hurd-Wood) house for exciting news, and from there the two girls plan to invite friends on a trip into the wild unknown. As the story unfolds from here, we are given clear insights into the characters' lives and personalities, and the sense of atmosphere that we get is incredible – the relationships between all these characters are believable and already the production design is highly impressive.

This film, to me, is split into two halves. The first half is light-hearted and hugely funny as we get to know all the characters, and at this point, I should name them – Corrie's boyfriend, Kevin (Lincoln Lewis), Homer (Deniz Akdeniz), the wild man of the group, Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin), better known as Fi, the princess, Lee (Chris Pang), the quiet, introverted one, Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings), who has strong religious convictions, and later we meet Chris (Andy Ryan), who is perpetually stoned and is either, in his portrayer's words "highly intelligent ", or "highly stupid", depending on who you ask. Romances are blooming all over the place and there is just a general sense of fun.

The second half, when the gang returns home and sees what has happened is much more serious, although we still do get a few laughs here and there. It is filled with action – wild, tension-filled chases in trucks and enormous, breathtaking explosions. However, despite the blockbuster-style action sequences, this is definitely not your typical Hollywood movie where things get blown up and nobody cares. These characters are real people – they fight with each other, they have to make incredibly hard life-and-death decisions that are in direct opposition to the values they have carried their whole lives, and, perhaps most believable of all, they question the ethics of what they have to do to survive. As Ellie asks the group at one point, "How many people do I have to kill to keep myself alive?" Not your bog-standard Hollywood blockbuster, huh? The film also has something to say on the age-old topic of book-to-film adaptations, and it was agreed by the characters who discuss this that "the books are better", which the audience found greatly amusing. I must say a word on the casting because it was absolutely top-notch in every case. However, I have to give special props to Caitlin Stasey and Deniz Akdeniz for their extraordinary portrayals in this film. Caitlin is almost exactly as the book describes Ellie – a seemingly ordinary girl who goes on to do incredibly brave things and yet still doubts that what she is doing is right. It was an amazing performance, full of gusto and real emotion. Good on you, Caitlin! Deniz Akdeniz is also incredible as Homer. Homer starts off as a troublemaker and "class clown" type, never taking anything too seriously and a lover of pulling pranks on his friends. However, when the group become fugitives, Homer begins to show his serious side, demonstrating qualities of strong leadership and organisation. Deniz was able to portray both sides of Homer wonderfully and if he doesn't become a star after this movie is officially released then I will be very surprised. He also seemed to be the audience favourite too! The production values, photography and visual effects are also outstanding, and a huge congratulations go to the crew for pulling it off so beautifully.

Overall, this is an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking film and I strongly encourage everyone who reads this review to see it if it comes out in your area.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Childish movie

Author: Florin C. from Romania
20 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Only one word: naive! A teenagers movie about teenagers for teenagers. If you have under 14 it is OK to watch it. It is comic to see how a group of young people successfully fight against a powerful army of invasion. It remind me of the old movies about the stupid Nazi and the smart French resistance. It's OK the special effects, the battle scene, but nobody can ever believe that a golf car can explode like a Chinese fire game. And the romance appears to be pretty foreseeable, the couples seems to be settled from the beginnings of the movie. It is a facile movie, for young and naive spectators, and I consider that it is a waste of time to see that movie. And I do have a strong impression that I seen a movie just like that sometime in the past.

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30 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Swept me up and took me on an exhilarating ride!

Author: simmmz from Australia
10 April 2011

Fans of the Tomorrow book series rejoiced at the news of a cinematic adaptation of John Mardson's iconic Australian teen epic, Tomorrow When the War Began. As an enthusiast of the first 3 books (in a series of 7), I was ecstatic that it would get big screen treatment and not some shitty b-grade telly movie as I had feared. I'm pleased to announce that I walked out of this energised, with a racing pulse and a smile on the face.

For those unfamiliar with the material, the concept of is pretty much identical to Red Dawn – a group of teens from a country town go camping for a weekend to find out their country has been invaded, and their family have been held captive. They hide out and guerrilla warfare ensues.

Thematically, the film captures the clichéd 'working together' virtues of friendship corn from the novel. It is definitely in the writing that the film falls down…well, more of a stumble than a fall. I found this particularly unusual given the writer/director is Stuart Beattie – a screenwriter with an exceptional resume. He handles action far better than he handles characters in his directorial debut. Despite the ham and cheese in the writing, the broader screenplay is emotionally satisfying.

Whilst the acting is not of the highest calibre, I would say it was on par with other large franchise films with a young, teen cast (specifically Harry Potter and Twi). The actor who plays Lee is the weakest link here. Although he has the visual presence for the role, his delivery is consistently wooden. Caitlyn Stacey was a standout for me. She displays genuine emotion, genuine intensity and fear. I would have preferred if she spoke like less of a 'toff', and ripped into that bogan Aussie accent, but she brings a solid and believable strength.

As well as capturing the essence of the novel, the action sequences have been stunningly realised. The visuals have a polished look and feel, on par with films with a much higher budget (this had only $20AUD million) thus I believe it would stand up well in an international market. By any standards, the action is exhilarating and has been directed with clarity. Although I wouldn't have minded a bit more grit to the imagery, the cinematography is exceptional and captures the Australian landscapes beautifully. The soundtrack and score was nicely chosen, and the balance of humour and darker tones was effective.

Whilst not being the major box office success some would have liked, The Dead of the Night has been green lit, so thankfully there is more to come in this promising franchise. Despite some awkwardness, there is an energy in the characters and action that permeates Tomorrow When the War Began, making it an entirely gripping experience. For me, this was resonant action that sweeps you up and takes you on an exhilarating and emotionally fulfilling ride.

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