TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN.
I took myself off to see the new Australian film “Tomorrow When The War Began” yesterday.
While I am very pleased it is doing very well at the Australian box office (for the Australian film industry sake only), I was very disappointed in the film.
Based on the acclaimed and popular book by John Marsden. It tells the tale of a group of teenagers who go off on a camping trip to a remote location, and on their return find that their town and lives have been taken over by an unnamed military force. The unthinkable has happened, Australia is at war. Forced to fend for themselves they take on the invaders, and quickly learn to become adults. On the page, I can imagine it would ignite the imagination of it’s teenage audience. And obviously from the box office results it has done so in it’s cinematic form.
But for me it doesn’t work. I had to keep reminding myself that it is a movie for teenagers, I have seen other films made for that demographic that I don’t question, but it was always on my mind that the film was not made for me. I also understand that to make a film commercial, one should take some notes from the American formula (cardboard cutout characters & not too confrontational). So I decided to try and let go and not do the American/Australian comparison – still the film did not work. Why?
I am going to lay my cards on the table – it is badly written & directed – clunky, with some average acting, dialogue that made me cringe, and editing that baffled me. A music score that is very strange, and some patchy cinematography.
Perhaps I should put in point form some of my distractions.
1. Why is the very pretty blonde girl worried she will not find a boyfriend cos she doesn’t have the looks? – and why later on, she mentions that another character had kissed her – when did that happen? – I dont recall having to pee and leaving the cinema.- maybe a cut scene. I won’t mention the scene where the kissing revelation occurs, you have to see it for yourself. It seems so easy to escape the pursuing enemy.
2. Why are there only a handful of the enemy chasing them at a time anyway? and where are the backups? There seems very little sense of danger and no suspense because of this.
3. Why a few days after the invasion are there still burnt out cars on fire, and how come the police car lights are still flashing? – must be a very good car battery.
4. Why was the explosion of the ride-on lawnmower so damn big for such a little tank of fuel? All the explosions are very OTT, guess the boys love them.
5. Why are there so many badly acted and cliche ridden speeches? The one from the stoner boy character is appalling. Perhaps on page they work, but seem very clunky on screen.
6. Speaking of the stoner boy – I though his bedroom setting very out of place. Why would a 17 yr old boy, who lives in a country town, in a house with his conservative parents, decorate his room in the retro 70’s style? If he was a 30 yr old living in the inner city then I might accept this cliche’.
7. How come we were spared the skinning of the rabbit scene? If there ever was one of course. To see the rabbit beautifully mounted on it’s rotisserie on the campfire made me tut-tut. The whole campfire setting was very pretty, yet it was called “hell” by everyone. More grit would have made sense.
Ok, I will stop this nit picking. It is obvious that I was not engaged in the film at all, therefore all these questions arose. I have an aversion to films full of so many cliche’s.
I do understand the need to try and make more commercial films to compete with the American market, I just wish they could be better made than this particular one. Maybe they will improve with the sequel which will undoubtably be on our screens soon. There are more books in the series – Australia’s own “Twilight” like saga maybe?
Let’s hope that tomorrow is a better day when the war continues.