The World According to Renee

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Tomorrow When the War Began

This was a much loved book when I was in high school, and ever since 1996, they’ve been planning a movie. Now, finally, it’s here!

Seven teenagers take a trip into Hell, a little-known camping place amongst rough terrain. It’s a week away together before school starts, a chance to unwind before the seriousness of their final year begins. Have a few laughs, some silly summer romances, all the two minute noodles you can eat. One night, they are woken by jets flying overhead and when they come back to their houses, no one is home. The dogs are dead, the phones and electricity have been cut. Soon they find all their houses the same. A war has begun, their country has been invaded.

During the first twenty minutes, I thought it was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. It was cliched, juvenile and silly. The characters weren’t as I imagined and a lot was left out. Then, the war began and it quickly turned into a very good movie. Even though I’ve read all the books and know what eventuates with each character, I was still biting my nails waiting to see what happened next. Wisely, the romance was largely omitted in favour of more explosions, which kept the movie’s momentum from falling into its own version of Hell. The cast really have nothing to offer although Deniz Akdeniz is a standout and will definitely go a long way.

Unfortunately, this brings me to the reasons I didn’t particularly love this film. For some reason, everyone sounded like they have the clipped accent of the English, not the rural Australia they live in. They are completely unbelievable as country dwellers and the first scenes of Ellie (Caitlin Stasey) doing every day farm activities was laughable. It was as if young Sydneysiders were appearing in an episode of The Simple Life. The explosions, although plentiful, were clearly enhanced by pyrotechnics and CGI. This in itself isn’t a huge issue but added to the unbelievable atmosphere plaguing the film.

The cinematography was outstanding, but then again, I am a little biased considering the scenes in and round Hell were shot in my hometown of the Blue Mountains. In fact, Hell itself is in bushland near my mum’s house and I have been there many times on my bushwalks. Still, it was exciting to see it used. The bay and bridge integral to the plot were, alas, computer generated and at times isn’t as seamless as it should be. Even though I know there is no water visible from the area, there is still moments when the characters aren’t blending with the background- a sure sign of green screen CGI. The transition between innocent teenagers to guerillas is as bumpy as it should be considering the circumstances they find themselves in. Yet the cast managed this with some humour, which was refreshing and never out of place.

All in all, if you loved the books, you’ll enjoy the film adaptation. It’s not perfect and incorporates modern speech and technology not available 17 years ago when the novel was written, so perhaps the purists will not love it so much…

3/5 popcorns

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September 5, 2010 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment