In “Tomorrow, When The War Began” Australia gets invaded by a coalition of the willing, er… I mean a coalition of countries that want to get their hands on our resources. In other words, Australia becomes “Iraq III : The Irony.” The countries are Asian, but then what else would they be in this part of the world – Europeans? No, that movie’s already been done…
There are two things that make this movie stand out. The first, and the most remarkable thing about this film, is that someone actually had the nerve to defy the PC brigade by making a movie in which Australia is invaded by a bunch of Asians! Takes guts to do that in a world in which you can be accused of being racist for not liking Chow Mein. Funnily enough, we are never told precisely which Asian countries are involved. The impression one gets, though, is that it isn’t the major Asian countries like Indonesia, Japan or China. This was probably done so we don’t piss off any of the region’s major players, something which could lead to them invading us.
The second thing that distinguishes this film is that it is one of the few Australian movies that doesn’t suck – don’t let things like The Road Warrior and Moulin Rouge fool you, most Australian movies are conceived, written and directed in way deliberately calculated to put you to sleep. This is done so that government operatives can come into the cinema while everyone is sleeping and raid their pockets – it is, in effect, a form of indirect tax.
If you’re after complex plot, you won’t get it. Teens living in a small town in Aus go for an annoying weekend in the woods – annoying to me, not to them – and when they go back to town they find the place has been invaded by a bunch of people willing to work for ridiculously small wages. Unhappy at the fact that their parents have been locked up and some of their pets killed, the teens become a guerilla strike force led mostly by a Greek boy who I expected at some point to shout “This. Is. N.S.W!” No such luck, though.
The characters in this movie are actually likable, despite being teenagers. It’s good to see that not everyone writing movies is under the impression that every teenager on the planet is an obnoxious boofhead of some sort. The acting is adequate and some of the girls are very pretty, especially Phoebe Tonkin, who plays a blonde ditz from the city. She’s the one in the photo, though she isn’t the main character. Beauty privilege, folks, it’s a real thing. Don’t call the police on me – as often happens in movies these teens are played by a bunch of twenty year olds. There’s a fair amount of action, if you like that kind of thing, including a pretty cool scene in which the kids use a gas tanker to blow up a bridge of importance to the yellow peril. There are also a couple of romantic subplots which kind of get in the way, but I doubt most people will mind that. And there are a couple of amusing bits, courtesy of the blonde ditz and an especially fun bit in which one of the girls tells another that the novel of My Brilliant Career is better than the movie, to which the second girl responds that the book usually is better than the movie. This is amusing because they are themselves characters in a movie based on a book. Hey, it’s not genius, but it’s cute enough.
If there is one thing wrong with this movie it is the obligatory soundtrack full of songs that don’t really belong there but which will ( the companies involved hope ) help to sell CDs. The music wasn’t to my taste at all, and for god’s sake will someone shut Missy Higgins the fuck up already? When she first popped up on the music channels I thought she had a pleasant enough voice, but after years of hearing her everywhere I go I am starting to wish she would get laryngitis.
The ending gives the impression that there will be a sequel – apparently there are several novels out there – but even though the movie was very popular in Aus, the Europeans and the Brits didn’t care for it and I am pretty sure it wasn’t even released in Asia! The thing cost 27 million and grossed less than 20 million, so it doesn’t look as if this is going to develop into a franchise. Pity, because I would have liked to know how things turn out for the characters but I’m too lazy to read the books…