Directed by: Stuart Beattie
Written by:Stuart Beattie
Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Phoebe Tonkin, Chris Pang
Released: September 2, 2010
Grade: B+

I always make time to see a new Australian movie but there are many people who think differently.  You’ve only got to look at our box-office figures to see that Aussies would rather watch a big blockbuster from the United States than a locally made drama.

Animal Kingdom has been one of our big “success” stories this year.  Thanks to exceptional reviews and strong word of mouth, it made almost $5m at the box-office over a 10 week period.  To put that into perspective, Toy Story 3, Twilight: New Moon and Inception all made more than that in just their first weekend.

Writer-director Stuart Beattie has taken a gamble with Tomorrow When The War Began.  It’s Australian-made but he’s disguised it as a Hollywood action movie.  In the trailer, you’ll see big explosions, chase sequences and a variety of accents.  On the poster, you’ll see a giant fireball and fighter planes in the air.  I’m sure this will help market the film internationally but the big question is – can it be sold to Australian audiences?

This is his first time in the director’s chair but this style of movie is nothing new to Stuart Beattie.  He’s a notable screenwriter and his credits include Collateral, Australia and the three Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.  He has taken the widely read novel from John Marsden and tried to great something just as suspenseful on the big screen.

I think he’s done a good job.  The dialogue is cheesy but I was impressed by the tension that builds throughout the film.  The story centres on a group of teenagers from a small community who go camping for the weekend.  When they return, they discover their town has been invaded by a foreign army.  All the citizens have been locked up in a makeshift prison which is closely guarded by many men with many guns.

As the gravity of the situation sinks in, these teenagers are forced to make an important decision.  Should they hide and hope that help arrives?  Or should they use their knowledge of the area and try to fight back?  The answer to this question understandably creates conflict within the group.  This is an incredibly scary situation.  What are they going to do?

Tomorrow When The War Began is clearly targeted at a younger audience.  The novel was first published in 1993 and has been read by numerous high-school students as part of the curriculum.  I’m sure many will be keen to revive their interest in the story through this movie version.  The attractive cast, including ex-Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey and ex-Home & Away star Lincoln Lewis, should also result in more bums on seats.

Will this be the first in a long running series?  I hope so.  It will all depend on the support this film receives from the Australian public over the next few weeks.  I’ll be watching the box-office figures with a close eye.

You can read my interview with star Caitlin Stasey by clicking here.