Action Movie Fanatix Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow When the War Began banner

Where Were You When Everything Changed?

Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Phoebe Tonkin, Chris Pang, Ashleigh Cummings

Director: Stuart Beattie

2010  |  103 Minutes  |  Rated R

“All we could say for sure was that, for now, we were free.  But we had done nothing to earn our freedom, well, not yet anyway.” – Ellie

Tomorrow, When the War Began is Australia’s version of Red Dawn.  That is probably a simplistic view of it but I am a simple kind of man.

Seven teenagers return home from a backpacking trip to find that their country has been invaded.  Together they use guerilla tactics and their knowledge of their home country to evade capture and start the resistance against the foreign invaders.

This really could have gone down a bad Twilight, Hunger Games sorta path.  It isn’t often that we get movies about teenagers getting killed – violently – anymore.  I am not saying this like I long for the days where teenagers are getting massacred but if a film maker creates a movie with teenagers in the thick of it then prove it.  Don’t shy away from people getting hurt just because their character isn’t eighteen yet.

Instead of going the tween girl friendly, PG-13 route, Tomorrow, When the War Began takes the road less traveled and makes us believe that any character could be expendable.

Tomorrow, When the War Began has a very memorable early scene.  When the teens are mostly sleeping out in the middle of nowhere, Ellie sees a large squadron of planes flying overhead.  In some ways it is very reminiscent (again) of Red Dawn but the very cool difference is that the teens don’t have any immediate danger.  It isn’t until they get back to town that they fully grasp what has happened.

The character roster is made up of young, charming, diverse and likable characters.  That is not an easy compliment coming from an old guy who generally seems to like “kids these days.”  The guys aren’t annoyingly cocky and the girls are realistically attractive.  These aren’t 30-somethings pretending to be young.  And to top it off their performances are spot on.

Tomorrow, When the War Began is also a wonderful showcase of how truly beautiful Australia’s landscape is.  I don’t remember seeing any movie before that featured Australia’s jungles.

Just like Red Dawn, the plan for the group is to hit and run, to use guerrilla tactics.  The result are some really exciting scenes.  TWTWB does things in a little bigger style and with a lot more explosions.  I have heard that this was one of the largest budget Australian movies ever made and it definitely shows.

Now, I know I have made a lot of comparisons between Tomorrow, When the War Began and Red Dawn.  I think the comparisons are very fair and honestly don’t know how someone could sit down and watch TWTWB and not come to the same conclusion.  But, I am not someone who complains about how Hollywood doesn’t have any new ideas and how action movies are all the same.  The people that make those statements are the same ones who will be going gaga over another Les Miserables movie in ten years.  The fact of the matter is Tomorrow, When the War Began takes some ideas from Red Dawn, brings in some new ideas and then delivers a product that is fun, heartfelt and quite beautifully shot.

From what I understand, Tomorrow, When the War Began is a long series of novels.  I hope that the series of movies continues on for at least 1-2 more movies.  There is a lot more story to tell and they could use those movies to further differentiate themselves from Red Dawn.  I would definitely recommend Tomorrow, When the War Began as long as you can pull your head out of “This is just like Red Dawn” mode.

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