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Tomorrow When the War Began


Stars: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd Wood, Phoebe Tonkin, Lincoln Lewis, Ashleigh Cummings, Chris Pang, Deniz Akdeniz, Andy Ryan, Colin Friels

Director: Stuart Beattie

This fairly enjoyable junior-league actioner from Australia looks as if it were based on a comic strip, though in fact its source is the first in a series of novels by John Marsden.

'There's only one way to do this,' says Ellie (Stasey), addressing a camcorder, ' and that's to go back to where it began.' Well, that's original, and the dialogue itself doesn't get much better. 'What's the worst that could possibly happen?' ask seven teens of their parents, as they go off on a camping expedition to Hell, an uncharted wilderness in the back of beyond.

Actually, Hell turns out to be more like an unspoiled paradise but, as the campers sleep fitfully, hundreds of planes drone overhead. Getting back to their home town, they find a full-scale invasion by 'the coalition' (no, not that one), a federation of Far East countries who have decided that Oz's wide open spaces are just the place for their own surplus populations.

All native Aussies, save a few pockets of resistance, have been rounded up or killed; dissenters are shot on the spot.

Narrowly escaping capture, the kids, led by Ellie, toughen up fast and start thinking about guerilla warfare, leading to the film's action setpiece - an assault on a vital suspension bridge.

Action scenes are tense, noisy and explosive, but the film is a bit too imitative of Hollywood blockbusters for its own good; particularly in the teen warriors' rather self-conscious final hilltop pose, and portentous narration. Nor should we ask where they get their black fighting gear from, or how the girls keep up their supply of eyeshadow. Ridiculous as it is, though, the film carries a surge of excitement about its taut and explosive action scenes, directed with a real sense of urgency.

David Quinlan

Australia 2010. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by Kodak.
103 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 02 Apr 2011