Tomorrow, When the War Began

(

Judge Dredd Megazine, Rebellion)

Tomorrow, When the War Began is a “Young Adult” film which knows that the target audience is too young to remember the film that’s being recycled. That film is Red Dawn, the 1984 John Milius epic featuring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, in which America is invaded by Commies and highschool boys fight back. In Red Dawn, the invasion happened in the first minutes, with the memorable image of dozens of parachutists landing in a field next to an American school and opening fire. In Tomorrow, we get half an hour of vaguely Stand By Me-ish preamble as a band of teenagers head out to a remote valley, where they see a fleet of aircraft heading inland. On their return, they find their small town occupied by Asiatic invaders.

There are a few on-screen deaths, several pulled punches and no bloodbaths, reflecting the younger target audience. Red Dawn’s militarism is toned down in favour of a more conventional adventure story, with more interest in the teens’ loss of innocence than in making the invasion plausible. (The story is set in the present day, whereas a more credible film might have had Japan invading Australia – a real historical possibility – during World War II.) There are stupid moments and a climax that’s uncomfortably like a Children’s Film Foundation version of The Bridge over the River Kwai, but Tomorrow is sporadically interesting if you don’t expect Red Dawn. Another Red Dawn, in fact, is currently awaiting release, though the signs aren’t good.

(c) 2018 Rebellion A/S. Reprinted with permission.